We planned the trip so that we would finish at Victoria Falls. And brownie points with it being Valentine's Day! It's difficult to say that we left the best for last but we were pretty certain that it would be a good way to end our trip. As one of the 7 natural wonders of the world, it is something all of us have seen on the TV. I have always dreamed of being here and then sailing down the Zambezi.

I have seen the Niagara Falls and while they are stunning, the Canadians have managed to destroy the area with dull tall hotels and ubiquitous neon signs. I hoped that this was not the case at Victoria.

We were told by the pilot that we could see the Falls as we came in to land. The semi circle of smoke is in fact water spray. The airport has purposely been built several kilometers from the Falls so as not to ruin the vibe with aircraft noise. Good start.

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We were collected by a pleasant lady and driven the relatively short distance to the Falls where we were met by our guide, Lovemore. Africans have two names on the whole, one English and one native. We have met many such people; Clever, Goodman, Livewell, Happy, Fortunate, Blessing, Patience, Pretty, Wonderful. And indeed these names and the people to which they are connected have all been wonderful.

Lovemore is a guide at Mpala Jena which shall be our home for the next 3 nights. Before that though, we are going straight to the Falls for a tour. We can hear them before we see them, though first we pass a commemorative statue to the great adventurer Dr. David Livingstone (1813 to 1873).

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As you know, Livingstone, a Scottish missionary and explorer is famous for his African exploration and humanitarian work during the 19th century. He was renowned for his efforts to abolish the African slave trade. Livingstone traversed vast expanses of uncharted territory, mapping regions and documenting natural wonders. According to Lovemore, he walked more of Africa than any other human being. His expeditions, including the discovery (first by a non African) of the Victoria Falls (which he named after Queen Victoria), contributed greatly to European knowledge of Africa's geography. Livingstone's dedication to Christian missions led to the establishment of numerous missions and trading posts, facilitating interaction between European traders and African communities. His commitment to humanitarian causes earned him international acclaim.

Livingstone died on 1 May 1873 at the age of 60 in Chief Chitambo's village at Chipundu, in present-day Zambia, from malaria and internal bleeding due to dysentery. Most unpleasant don't you think. Led by his loyal attendants Chuma and Susi, his expedition arranged funeral ceremonies. They removed his heart & lungs and buried them under a tree near the spot where he died. His body was then returned to the UK, I understand.

On we moved toward the wonders themselves. And wow, what a sight that greeted us. By the way, the locals call the falls Mosi-oa-Tunya meaning “smoke that thunders.”

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"Victoria Falls has a rich geological history spanning millions of years and is situated on the Zambezi River between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Though it may not be the widest or the highest, Victoria Falls is classified as the largest because of its combined width of 1,708 metres and height of 108 metres, surpassing the aforementioned Niagara and also the Iguacu Falls (South America). Victoria Falls comprises five different 'smaller' waterfalls. One is in Zambia and four are in Zimbabwe." Visiting them from the Zimbabwe side, we have a wonderful view of the Falls with Zambia on the other side.

"Around 180 million years ago, during the breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana, the African plate began to separate from the South American plate. This tectonic activity led to the uplifting of the African plateau, creating a vast elevated region where Victoria Falls now stands.

Approximately five to two million years ago, the Zambezi River began carving its path across this plateau. The river's flow encountered alternating layers of hard basalt and softer sandstone, a geological formation known as the Batoka Gorge. Over time, the relentless force of water eroded the softer rock layers, gradually creating a series of waterfalls, including Victoria Falls.

The geological significance of Victoria Falls extends beyond its formation. The surrounding landscape, with its diverse flora and fauna, reflects the intricate relationship between geology, climate, and biodiversity. This geological masterpiece stands as a reminder of the Earth's dynamic processes and its ability to carve breathtaking landscapes over vast stretches of time."

And what of the future?

"Victoria Falls will likely entail continued erosion, albeit at a slower rate. The Zambezi River will persist in carving through the underlying rock layers, gradually deepening the chasm downstream of the falls. Over time, this erosion may result in further retreat of the falls upstream. However, the process will unfold over geological timescales, ensuring that Victoria Falls will remain a stunning natural wonder for generations to come." But don't leave it too late to visit!

The Falls are every bit as breathtaking as I have always imagined them to be. In fact they are huge which accounts for the 15 look out points along our way. I could have sat and watched them all day, so mesmerising are they. It was worth the 52 years that I have waited to see them in all of their glory. And not a neon sign or hotel in sight.

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Along the path we came across 2 vervet monkeys grooming. They could care less as to our presence.

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Though we are not rushed, it is time to move on to Mpala Jena which is 25km away. And how about this, we are to arrive by boat. We met the Captain (Wellington, a young chap from Zambia) at a dock down the road, transferred our luggage onto the small vessel and set off on the mighty Zambezi. It is difficult to describe it but I felt more in Africa now than at any point in the trip. To me, the Zambezi is Africa. We travelled 40 minutes looking at all the incredible sights. We had to traverse two rapids;

and we saw hippos. Oh wow!

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And then we arrived at our destination, greeted by the entire staff at the lodge.

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It is now time to relax for a while and enjoy the few days before we head home. No more safaris needed now but we certainly plan to enjoy a couple of sunset cruises.

This is where heaven is located!!

This featured blog entry was written by NeedhamSA2024 from the blog South Africa 2024.
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By NeedhamSA2024

Posted Sun, Feb 18, 2024 | Zimbabwe | Comments