Thunder and Fury of Victoria Falls

Dr Livingstone statue at entrance to park

This was a day of contrasts, with a quite walk along the banks of the Zambezi River to the thunder and immense fury of Victoria Falls, which has 900,000 litres of water pour over the top of the Falls, each second. Fortunate to have seen Niagara Falls and Victoria Falls within 9 months, we can comfortably state that Niagara was amazing, but Victoria Falls are simply in a different league, especially at high water.Although we took 2 days to complete this journey, I am writing it in a single post. We started today’s adventure with a short 15 minute walk, mostly along the banks of the mighty Zambezi River, to the entrance gate to the Falls National Park. The contrast within the mile between our room and the Falls is unbelievable. Level with our room, although running fairly quickly, the river is wide and smooth.

View down the Zambezi River from the Royal Livingston

View down the Zambezi River from the Royal Livingston

The smooth Zambezi River from level with our room, but just look at those plumes of spray.

Looking up the Zambezi River from Royal Livingstone Hotel

Looking up the Zambezi River from Royal Livingstone Hotel

Looking up the Zambezi River, which is rather smooth considering the high rate of flow.

Judi taking a break on one of the many benches and swings

Judi taking a break on one of the many benches and swings

On reaching the end of the Royal Livingstone property we headed along the inland path around the adjacent hotel, the Zambezi Sun. Approaching the entrance to the Victoria Falls Park we passed the resident zebras, happily grazing on the grounds, as they have no local predators.

Zebras mother and child grazing

Zebras mother and child grazing

On entering the Falls National Park, we quickly realised that we weren’t prepared for the fury and spray from the Falls, so we admitted defeat and headed back to room.

Next morning, armed with plastic ponchos, as our rain jackets were too warm for the heat, we returned to the park entrance. Just inside the entrance we saw the statue of Dr Livingstone.

Dr Livingstone statue at entrance to park

Dr Livingstone statue at entrance to park

Dr. David Livingstone was a Scottish protestant medical missionary and African explorer, who is believed to have been the first European to view the Falls on 16th November 1855. He named the Falls after the reigning British Monarch, Queen Victoria. The indigenous name is Mosi-oa-Tunya, or “The Smoke that Thunders” and in 2013 the Government of Zimbabwe announced they intend to change the name to the indigenous one from Victoria Falls.

Victoria Falls and Zambezi River

Victoria Falls and Zambezi River – public domain

The Falls are not the widest or highest, but they are huge, and generally accepted as being overall the largest waterfalls in the World. With a width of 5,600 feet and height of 350 feet it is almost double the height and width of the horseshoe falls at Niagara. For height and width it is only rivalled by the Iguazu Falls in Brazil and Argentina.

Victoria Falls - public domain

Victoria Falls – public domain

The first viewing platform provided a great view of the top of the Falls on the Zambia side and the river. From this position you could hear the thunderous noise from the Falls, but did not experience the spray, although we did see some people returning that were soaked to the skin. The next few photographs were taken at the first viewing platform.

Judi with Victoria Falls in background

Judi with Victoria Falls in background

Andy with Victoria Falls in background

Andy with Victoria Falls in background

Victoria Falls and immense spray

Victoria Falls and immense spray

Although taken with a very fast shutter, this shot of the Falls through the trees has that blurry appearance caused by the spray.

Top of the Falls on Zambia side

Top of the Falls on Zambia side

Top of the Falls with higher ISO to permit really fast shutter speed to freeze the water and aperture set for lots of depth of field.

Zambia side of Victoria Falls

Zambia side of Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls with a slower shutter speed.

Prior to leaving the first viewing platform we donned the ponchos, as from this point the spray from the Falls varies from a light spray to torrential downpour.

Judi with the poncho

Judi with the poncho

Heading down to the other viewing platforms we took the option that provided a view of the International Bridge and river gorge.

Lower Zambezi River and bridge connecting Zambia and Zimbabwe

Lower Zambezi River and bridge connecting Zambia and Zimbabwe

From this point we descended some rather steep and narrow stairs, with the spray increasing in intensity from a light spray consistent with Niagara to heavy rain. Thinking the heavens had opened, I looked up, but it was still clear blue sky with not a cloud in sight. The camera was safely under the poncho staying reasonably dry and it stayed there. Unfortunately, with the heavy rain experienced I just couldn’t get the camera out, and if I did the photo would only show the heavy fog from the spray. You couldn’t even see the water flowing over the Falls.

We decided to cross the bridge over the gorge towards Devil’s Point, which is the furthest point towards the middle of the Falls on the Zambia side. Once we reached the bridge, the heavy rain turned to the equivalent of a torrential winter storm. With the thunderous noise, wind blowing from the Falls across the bridge and up the gorge, and the huge volume of water, the conditions were just unbelievable. The ponchos helped, but we still got soaked. From the bridge it was almost like being in a dense fog, as we could not see the water coming over the Falls through the spray.

Once we crossed the bridge we continued along the path parallel to the Falls. The spray reduced slightly, but still not to a level that I could get the camera out for a photograph. At the end, we took the path leading away from the Falls, and at the tree line the spray almost abated. I took a chance and got a couple of quick photographs and a film.

Victoria Falls partially obscured by spray

Victoria Falls partially obscured by spray

This is the path we took leading away from the Falls, taking some photographs in the shelter of the tree line.

Victoria Falls panorama

Victoria Falls panorama

Panorama resulting from stitching 4 photos together.

Victoria Falls from back at the tree line

Victoria Falls from back at the tree line

This really was the only good view of the Falls once we departed the first viewing platform.

By this time, even with the ponchos, we were completely soaked to the skin and our shoes were water logged. In fact when we got back to the room we could still wring water out of our socks.

Tried to upload one of the films of the Falls to Youtube so I could embed a link, but the delightful Google doesn’t like our current location. Guess I won’t be uploading video until we return to Canada.

2 thoughts on “Thunder and Fury of Victoria Falls

    • You are so right, as similar to Niagara, no photograph or video can even prepare you for the sheer power of these Falls. During low water you get better photos but don’t experience the power of the Falls.

      Liked by 1 person

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