Victoria Falls was one of the more anticipated stops on my trip. Along with the Grand Canyon and Great Barrier Reef to name a few, it is considered to be one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. Straddling the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, the area offers a wide array of activities and is sometimes referred to as “the Disney Land of Africa”.
Our plan for the first day was to go white water rafting on the Zambezi river, the 4th longest river in Africa. After having such a great experience rafting the Nile in Uganda the month before, I was eager to do it again. Joining me were Carly (Australia), Ashleigh (Australia), and Keegan (New Zealand). The area of the Zambezi which we would be rafting is located in a gorge, about a 300 meter depth. Climbing down in the hot sun was hard work, and we knew we would have to ascend it upon completion. The high cliff walls did provide stunning scenery however, as we made our way down the river. We rafted through a total of 19 rapids, with our boat capsizing only once. The time we did though resulted in complete chaos, with one second we were paddling furiously through the rapids, and the next minute I found myself in the water floating swiftly downstream. This current was definitely stronger than the Nile’s. After completion of the 19 rapids, it was time to ascend the gorge. Knowing that lunch and beers awaited us at the top, made the journey a little bit easier!
Overall, I would have to rank the Zambezi slightly ahead of the Nile in terms of my rafting experience. The Zambezi had 19 rapids as compared to the Nile’s 8, and as a result, there weren’t as many lulls between rapids. I did end up flipping more times on the Nile (3), versus the Zambezi (1), but the time I flipped in the Zambezi was definitely the most intense. A con for the Zambezi would be the hike down and out of the gorge, as it was a reasonably difficult trek.
The next day we were set to visit Devil’s Pool, which is a natural pool that overlooks one of the falls, and is only accessible during the low water season, usually between September-January. It is located on the Zambian side, where the waters cascade into the gorge. It provides stunning views, and you are the closest you can get to one of nature’s more beautiful sights. There is some danger involved however, as there have been a few deaths since it’s been open to visitors. To enter the pool, one must be accompanied by a guide for safety purposes, as they are familiar with the do’s and don’t of the area and can help aid you in case anything bad would happen. As it is a very popular spot, our time in the actual pool was very limited, but very memorable at the same time. To get to Devil’s Pool, we had to first take a small speedboat to Livingstone Island. From the island, we walked across a series of rocks to get to the pool overlooking the falls. In high water season, the area is completely flooded, and therefore inaccessible.
Once we reached the pool, the adrenaline kicked in! We had to swim across a small current which otherwise led over the falls. A bit scary! Once inside the pool, we were in a state of awe and excitement. We waved to the tourists viewing the falls from the Zimbabwean side and took a wide variety of photos, culminating in each of us taking our turn on the edge of the falls, and if we were brave enough, peering over the edge into the depths below! There were also some tiny fish in the water, which seemed to take pleasure in nipping at our feet and ankles. Pretty soon, our time in the pool was up, and we had to exit it, so others could enjoy the experience. I can sincerely say that I have never done anything like that before in my life.
After recovering from the excitement, a few of us went over to the Zimbabwe side to view the falls. The Zimbabwe side, while not the side of the actual falls, provide great panorama views, perfect for photo and viewing opportunities. The falls combined with the lush green vegetation, reminded me a bit of the fictional “Paradise Falls” in the movie “Up”. This is even low season for the falls. During the high water season from May-September, the white water teems over the falls endlessly. It was still a sight to behold, and we were even able to see a few rainbows from the sun’s reflecting rays.
Victoria Falls is a beautiful area, complete with a multitude of activities, a must see sight in Southern Africa.