Victoria Falls (Mosi-oa-Tunya)

A Visit to Africa’s tourist capital

My first glimpse of the majestic Victoria Falls was from the airplane as I touched down at Livingstone airport in Zambia. The stories I had read and heard about this UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of  the Seven Wonders of the Natural World got me all giddy and excited in anticipation of what would be a most memorable experience for me.

After checking in into the Zambezi Sun Hotel in livingstone, which is located on the green banks of the Zambezi River and is only a few minutes walk away to Victoria Falls, i took a glance at my wristwatch and saw it was 6pm already, had a shower, fell into the bed and slept off immediately as i was exhausted from all the traveling i had done in addition to the delays i had at the Livingstone airport upon my arrival.

I woke up around 11pm and started preparing for my trip to the falls the next day. I was so caught up in the excitement of my visit to Victoria Falls that I almost forgot I hadn’t had anything to eat all day bar a quick snack I had in-flight.

A view of the Falls from the Zambian border. Photo

I headed to the hotel’s restaurant and ran through their menu. I was keen on sampling some native cuisine so I ordered for “Chikanda”, a meat-like delicacy prepared using wild orchids, which are dried and pounded with a thick mixture of groundnuts and chili alongside some “Nshima”, a widely consumed dish in Zambia made from maize and serves as the country’s main staple food.

I retired back to my room and had a few minutes on my laptop before I eventually went back to sleep. Woke up the next day feeling refreshed and ready for my visit to see the Falls. The journey from my hotel to the falls lasted about 10 minutes by foot. 

As you walk along, you will be immersed in the sprays and mists of the Falls. You will also encounter the Rainforest that fringes the Victoria Falls while taking-in the sight and sounds of the great River Zambezi as it makes its way down basalt gorges.

The strength with which the water falls is tremendous, and coupled with the heat, causes the evaporation of what looks like a gigantic wall of smoke several meters up in the air (during the rainy season). It was this enormous plume of mist that I could clearly see from the plane on my arrival. It’s no wonder the locals call it ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ , the smoke that thunders. 

Victoria Falls is the biggest curtain of falling water in the world

In all honesty, nothing prepared me for the spectacular sight of Victoria Falls. Striking doesn’t even begin to describe them. It was like nothing I’d seen before and it beggared belief. Drenched from head to toe in the Zambezi water, I fell in love with this wonder of nature.

After spending two days taking in the sights of the Falls from my current location, I decided it was time to head over to Zimbabwe and see what it would look like from that side of paradise. 

Victoria Falls forms the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia and to cross into Zimbabwe from where I was, I would need to use the Victoria Falls Bridge. Of course one would still need a visa to cross into Zimbabwe and that is issued on arrival as long as the visa that brought you into Zambia is a tourist visa. 

Aerial view of Victoria Falls

Viewing the falls from the bridge was also another thrilling experience. I couldn’t spend much time on the bridge though as one has to constantly be on the move due to the amount of human traffic crossing the bridge in both directions, added to the fact the bridge isn’t exactly the widest.

Arriving in Zimbabwe, I stayed in a lovely old colonial-styled hotel where Zebras strolled along the pool and gazelles pranced about in the compound.

Viewing Victoria Falls from Zambia was an amazing experience and will forever live in my memory, but Zimbabwe was breathtaking. The huge body of water at the foot of the Falls creates a constant rainbow and in some instances, two. 

Another aerial view of the falls

As history has it, for centuries local African tribes around the region approached the falls in sacred reverence. In truth, Victoria Falls is so uncanny; so unlike anything else that the reverence in which the locals approach it makes perfect sense.

Victoria Falls is one of the world’s most incredible natural wonders. Locals call this raging expanse of water “Mosi-oa-Tunya,” or “The Smoke That Thunders.” Cascading over the edge of 1.7 kilometers of craggy gorge and plunging 100 meters to the rocks below, the waterfall gives off such a huge volume of mist that the plumes are visible for miles in every direction. The noise of Victoria Falls can be heard from a distance of 40 km and see the mist from a distance of 50 km away. In 1855, Scottish missionary and explorer, David Livingstone was the first European to see the waterfall. He named it Victoria Falls after Queen Victoria who was the Queen of Great Britain at the time.

The view of Victoria Falls from the Victoria Falls Bridge.

While they are neither the tallest (Angel Falls in Denmark) nor the widest falls (Khone Phapheng Falls in Laos) in the world, the falls are classified as the largest in the world due to the sheer amount of water that flows through the edge per minute. Roughly 625 million liters of water flows over the edge per minute making it the biggest curtain of falling water in the world.

The number of tourists like me who visited Victoria Falls was overwhelming. Tourists from all over the world visit the site annually to witness this breath-taking natural wonder. According to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority over 1.8 million people came to Zimbabwe in 2018 just to visit the site which has been dubbed Africa’s tourist capital.

Victoria Falls is more than enough to merit a trip all the way to Zambia and Zimbabwe. Everything about my trip to see this UNESCO World Heritage Site was exhilarating and left me with immense joy and sorrow in equal measure. Joy because Africa is undoubtedly beautiful, rich and blessed. Sorrow because despite the resources and talent that abounds on the continent we still haven’t been able to harness our riches, resources and culture for the benefit and upliftment of everyone.

The experience of my visit to Victoria Falls will live long in my memory.

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