Thursday, March 24, 2016: Victoria Falls (Mosi-oa-Tunya)

When asked about the most exciting item on the itinerary prior to our departure to Zimbabwe, most of us expressed our eagerness to visit the majestic Victoria Falls (Mosi-oa-Tunya).  It shouldn’t be surprising then that when we woke up on Thursday, our group was elated to finally be heading to the Victoria Falls National Park.

Upon arrival at the falls, our professional tour guide provided us each with heavy raincoats to protect us from the spray of the falls, which felt like a slight drizzle from the main gate about 530 feet from the falls. After a brief discussion by some dioramas, we began our walk down a forested path to our first view point, which was down a flight of seventy three steps adjacent to the deafening roar and spray from the Devil’s Cataract. Because we visited during the rainy season the Zambezi river was in full flow, thundering over the rapids and unleashing clouds of spray that easily penetrated all raincoats and ponchos! The experience made it clear why the Tonga name, Mosi-oa-Tunya (meaning smoke that thunders), was the most suitable one for the falls.

Our next stop took us to a statue of David Livingstone, the famed English missionary who named the falls after Queen Victoria of England after being the first European to see the falls in 1855. The next six viewpoints offered us different, drenched viewing angles of Devil’s Cataract as we walked through the Victoria Falls Rainforest towards the Main Falls.  As we walked through the rainforest and incessant spray, picture taking slowed as we became conscious of our wet belongings and cameras. Through all this our guide Abia pointed out interesting flora and bird life.  At Armchair Falls and the Eastern Cataract, the intense spray limited our ability to approach the falls..  At the end of the mile trail the spray diminished and we were able to see the Victoria Falls Railway Bridge that links Zimbabwe with Zambia. Built during the colonial period, this bridge not only links two countries, but serves as an attraction for bungee jumpers from around the world. Although Victoria Falls is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall this world has to offer, it is still considered the largest waterfall due to the fact that it produces the world’s largest sheet of falling water, measuring at 5604 feet wide by 354 feet high.

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A Victoria Falls cataract in full flow.

With a short amount of time before our departure back to Harare, our group decided to spend some time at one of the craft markets to do some souvenir shopping.  The sellers at this market were not craftsmen and were a lot more aggressive for sales than the artists at the market in Chitungwiza, Harare. The items for sale at this market were almost identical from shop to shop.  Nevertheless, several of us were able to rise to the occasion and bargain our way to some great deals.  Almost too soon after it was time to catch our flight back to Harare.

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