One of the greatest attractions in Africa is the Victoria Falls, on the Zambezi River. Visiting the falls was the finale to our Africa safari adventure.
Victoria Falls Hotel
Before talking about Victoria Falls, I’d like to first mention our hotel, The Victoria Falls Hotel. The hotel is an experience in itself. It’s an insightful memento to the British colonial days. You must stay at least two nights to enjoy the hotel and all it has to offer including high tea on the terraces and gin and tonics on the veranda. Also, allow time to slowly browse the corridors of the hotel and take in the artefacts, photos and words documenting its long history.
The hotel was built by the British in 1904, close to the falls, to accommodate the workers on the Cape-to-Cairo railway project. Today, the property still belongs to the National Railways of Zimbabwe. However, it has a shared 50/50 operational partnership with African Sun and Meikles Africa.
The hotel serves as a reminder of the distinguished and elegant era it was born. It has earned its status as the epitome of grand luxury travel and is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World.
The Victoria Falls
The Victoria Fall is on the Zambezi River, the fourth largest river in Africa. The river also defines the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The waterfall is the longest in the world, over a kilometre.
The deafening noise can be heard 40 kilometres away, while the spray and mist rise to a height of over 400 meters. It’s no wonder the local tribes used to call the waterfall Mosi-o-Tunya “The smoke that thunders”.
Scottish missionary and famous explorer of Africa, David Livingstone (1813-1873) named the falls after Queen Victoria. In 1857 he wrote, no one in England could even imagine the beauty of this scene.
We started the walking tour of the falls, with our guide. There are nine viewing platforms along the wide frontage of the falls. The water level varies throughout the year peaking in April, at the end of the rainy season. We were there in mid – June so the water flow was still high, providing dense mist. In October and November, when the water flow is less, there is less mist and better viewing, however, the sheer volume of water is a fraction of its peak, making it less dramatic.
Our guide strongly encouraged us to take a helicopter. Having said yes, it was organised in the blink of an eye and he happily made a little commission. With time precious, we were collected immediately after our walk and taken a short distance to the helipad. A sea of helicopters were coming and going, providing an excellent aerial view of the mighty falls.
Until relatively recently, the waterfalls were rarely visited. It wasn’t until 1905 when a railway to Bulawayo was constructed, approximately 380 kilometres from the falls, visitors started to flock. Today, over a million people visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site each year.
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