Mosi-oa-Tunya (The Smoke that Thunders)
I thought I would start off my first post in Travel by paying tribute to the motherland and introducing you guys to my home country, Zambia. I believe that once in your life, you ought to have one of those experiences that leave you utterly amazed that words fail you. For me, this happened when I traveled to Livingstone, a small town in the Southern Province of Zambia, to see the Victoria Falls. It is known to be 'the greatest curtain of falling water in the world.'
The silent streets of Livingstone slowly resurrect to life at the break of dawn, as tourists and locals starting filling up the streets around 8 AM. My family and I have been here for less than 24 hours and we are already in love with this small town of about 1.6 million people. Sitting in the back of the van, the force of the wind is amplified in this chilly July weather. We drive for miles on tarmac, with shrubs and overgrown golden grass in sight; from a distance, we can see smoky columns of water spray from the falls that look like fog, rising high above the long stretched forests. Fifteen minutes later, we reach our first destination, The Mosi oa Tunya National Park, which is located along the shores of the Upper Zambezi River.
We slowly enter the gates of Mosi oa Tunya National Park and our tour guide and driver goes on and on about the history of the park and stops here and there to point out important monumental spots. The rocky ride abruptly comes to a halt each time we spot an animal; five monkeys, old and young, sit impatiently in the chilly sun while scratching their backs. A mother giraffe affectionately kisses her baby giraffe, a group of zebras stroll in one straight line and two aging elephants lazily pick up leaves with their trunks.
Snacks are unpacked and set on a table, along the shores of the placid Zambezi River. We sit and have steaming black tea, vigilant of the animals a few feet away. They usually come to the river to quench their thirst. The river, like a slithering snake, moves quietly and leisurely for endless miles over dark sheets of basalt and sandstone. It is surrounded by small islands, enveloped by dark green foliage. Like an athlete, it warms up slowly then picks up the pace, starting to sprint then boom!!
The river transforms into a ferocious, massive beast, known as the Victoria Falls; before we even pass through the ticket booth to enter the falls, we can hear it roaring from afar. Past the gates, street vendors swamp tourists with hand-made sculptures, traditional African clothing, bracelets, etc., and charge prices that are highly inflated.
We finally get close to falls and WOW!! I can’t stop saying OH MY GOD! What a site to behold that words actually fail me. The water from the falls gracefulls falls with such great force, depth and majesty. I have never felt so small while surrounded by this splendor; I was overwhelmed and overcome with wonder and amazement. The water falls like gigantic white drapes, gracefully yet violently cascading down over 100 meters deep into the depths of the gorge. In a steady rhythm, it flows and it roars.
The scariest part of the trip was viewing the falls across a narrow foot path known as the knife edge bridge, which is wet from the mist of the falls that pour down like heavy torrents of rain. From the bridge by the basalt cliffs, we could see the depth of the falls, which is 108 meters deep. The sun glows and the rainbow hovers over the falls like a crown.
The bridge has a special vantage point where visitors can view the Main Falls, Eastern Cataract and the Boiling pot, where the river heads down the Batoka Gorge. Terrified of the depth and violence below, my little brother holds my hand; I silently tell myself ‘don’t look down!’ But I do. If anyone was to fall from this bridge, there’s no surviving it.
We watch the falls from there and I take a million pictures. Thereafter, we pass through the mist-covered forests full of pine trees and then walk up the long concrete steps until we embark on where we started off, by the entrance were we can still hear the falls roaring in all its grandeur. It was time to head back to Lusaka!
The gallery below includes pictures from Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park, The Zambezi River and The Victoria Falls:
For more information and pictures of the falls, including cities in Zambia, where to stay and what to do, visit the link here.
Zambia has four other major waterfalls (Kalambo, Kundalila, Lumangwe, and Ngonye) and nine smaller ones. Some people take flights over the falls or go swimming in the rock pools right below the falls. I’m not doing any of that stuff :-).
Until next time, stay blessed!