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Livingstones best discovery
Victoria Falls National Park (Zimbabwe)
Member Name: Gwenick
Victoria Falls National Park (Zimbabwe)
Date: 18/06/01, updated on 18/06/01 (91 review reads)
Disadvantages: lack of decent toilets
Into the northwest of Zimbabwe runs the Zambezi River. This great river enters Zimbabwe from Zambia in an astounding manner. It crashes over one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world - Victoria Falls. David Livingstone was the first outsider to stumble across this incredible nature feature and reported it to the world in 1860, naming it after his Queen - Victoria.
However, the 'natives' had already given it a name - Mosi-oa-Tunya - meaning The Smoke that Thunders. This is a very apt name which they gave it as the roar of the falls can be heard from the town of Victoria Falls which is situated about 15mins walk away. The spray - or smoke as they described it - can be seen from miles away as the water falls 100m into a deep gorge.
The falls themselves are situated in their own National Park, protecting them from the destructive nature of some humans. Entry into the Park costs around $5 Zim for the Zimbabweans but $5 US (for children) or $10 US (for adults). These prices may well have risen since I visited in December 1999 as the Zimbabwean dollar has depreciated greatly since then.
On entering the Park there is a small hut containing a short history of the falls along with photos and maps of the area. It really is very small and probably won't take more than 15-20mins to look at everything. You then walk through a rain forest, this is an amazing area as it is all natural. This rain forest survives because of the spray from the falls and the high humidity in the surrounding areas. I'm sure that is one of the few natural rain forests to be found so far south of the Tropics.
Anyway, to get back to the Falls. After a short walk through the humid forest you get your first glimpse of the 2km long falls. The first part that you will probably see is called Devils Cataract. A short walk along through the Rain Forest will bring you to the main part of the falls. This is the section that you will see on your Tourist
Information Sheets and the like. At this point its probably quite a good idea to put away anything which you want to keep dry and if possible take out the umbrella. We got soaked and the rainy season had only just begun.
Further along the walk you leave the rain forest behind you, and the fences to stop you falling over, and approach Rainbow Falls. Peering over the edge of these falls you will see a rainbow, or at least part of one - again this depends on the time of year you visit. At the end of the walk, before you turn back to return to the exit, you can see the Boiling Pot. Here the water, which has fallen from the heights, turns an abrupt corner before continuing along to form the rapids where you can white water raft. You can also get a glimpse of the bridge that crosses the gorge in Zambia and from where - if you're mad enough - you can do a bungee jump.
The toilet facilities are very limited, we only saw one little block and they were quite dirty, with no toilet paper. However, there may well be more - we had to rush back from the far end of the falls as a huge storm blew over the Zambezi from Zambia.
If you want to buy souvenirs and food its best to wait until you get back to the town. There are street vendors outside the Park gates but they will charge you extortionate prices because they KNOW you're a tourist.
If you want to see the falls from a different angle there is the Flight of the Angels. This is a trip which sadly I didn't have time to go on, but apparently is spectacular. It's a flight over the falls in a small plane, I believe it takes around 30mins and is quite expensive.
If you're travelling in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia or even South Africa I strongly recommend including a trip to Victoria Falls. I promise you won't be disappointed.
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