Victoria Falls is a beautiful place.
As a travel writer there is a tendency to get so overwhelmed by a destination that I forget to state the obvious (The Victoria Falls is one such place; after all, the falls in their raging glory tend to defy description).
Or maybe I’m just retreating into simplicity after failing to find the proper adjective for describing the falls.
The falls have been variously called magical, alluring, awe-inspiring, stunning, thrilling, glorious, and splendid, just to mention a few; yet somehow words fail to capture the essence of nature’s master-piece.
. . . but yes, they are simply beautiful.
Victoria Falls or Mosi-oa-Tunya (Tonga language) literally the “Smoke that Thunders” — is a waterfall on the Zambezi River that straddles the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia.
So the big question on the mind of many an international tourist when they decide to visit the falls is: Which side — Zambia or Zimbabwe? The answer is an undemanding one: Zimbabwe.
I’m not just saying this because I’m Zimbabwean.
Seen from the Zimbabwean side, the Victoria Falls provides over 1,7km of prime waterfall viewing, neatly paved rainforest walks and stunning viewpoints, whose restrictive fencing and barricades are kept to an aesthetic minimum (the latter should also serve as a warning!).
As you approach the falls, even before you have sighted them their thunderous explosion seem to call out to you. Cool dew descends on your skin, taking away any fright you might have.
The very first view of the falls, of slow-moving waters, is perfect preparation for the iridescent white curtains of immense force to come.
You only need to see it for yourself.
Victoria Falls, with its width of 1 708 metres and height of 108 metres results in the world’s largest sheet of falling water making it the largest waterfall in the world. Not the highest or the widest, but certainly the largest!
I was again on the ground in Victoria Falls town recently and just couldn’t help being taken away by the absolute awe of the falls’ cataclysmic beauty. It really doesn’t matter how many times you have seen these mighty falls, every fresh sighting is as good as your first as her ethereal magnificence never disappoints.
Little wonder the early natives venerated the falls as a highly sacred and spiritual place, naming it Mosi-oa-Tunya.
Little wonder too David Livingstone — the missionary and explorer believed to have been the first European to view Victoria Falls on November 16, 1855 — thought it “so wonderful must be gazed upon by angels in their flight”.
It is the beauty that is Victoria Falls.
But it’s more than the falls themselves. Victoria Falls Town itself is the quintessential resort town, what with the diversity of wildlife that you can see in the Victoria Falls and Zambezi National Park: elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, vervet monkeys, baboons and a variety of antelope. Lion and leopard are only occasionally seen.
If you are lucky (or not) you might encounter some of these animals anywhere around town.
The Zambezi River, above the falls, contains large populations of hippopotamus and crocodile. Elephants also cross the river in the dry season at particular crossing points.
The Victoria Falls area is dominated by Mopane woodland savannah, with smaller areas of Miombo and Rhodesian Teak woodland and scrubland savannah.
The rain forest
Riverine forests with palm trees line the banks and islands above the falls themselves. The most notable aspect of the area’s vegetation though is the rainforest nurtured by the spray from the falls, which has spawned plants rare for the area such as pod mahogany, ebony, ivory palm, wild date palm, and a number of creepers and lianas.
So, like many a place in Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls is great for birding. It is home to over 465 bird species, which can be seen throughout the year.
Area specials include *Rock Pratincole, Schalows Turaco, Taita Falcon, Bat Hawk, Western Banded Snake Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Dickinson’s Kestrel, African Finfoot, *Lesser Moorhen, *Allens Gallinule, *Lesser Jacana, Grey Headed Parrot, Coppery Tailed Coucal, Pels Fishing Owl, *Pennant Winged Nightjar, Half Collared Kingfisher, Collared Palm Thrush, Rosy Throated Longclaw, Northern Grey Headed Sparrow, *Broad Tailed Paradise Whydah, *Brown Firefinch, *Green Winged Pytilia (*denotes seasonal migrants or plumage).
With more than 50 activities to choose from, Victoria Falls is indeed a delicious resort destination.