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The Smoke That Thunders

February 26, 2011

The Smoke That Thunders (Mosi-oTunya) is the indigenous name for the magnificent Victoria Falls on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe in southern Africa ~ a fitting name for this thunderous waterfall, the spray of which can rise to a height of over 400 metres (1,300 ft) (sometimes twice as high) and which is visible from up to 50 km (30 miles) away.  The Falls are arguably the biggest in the world – not the highest or widest – however by area (1,708 metres (5,604 ft) wide x 108 metres (354 ft) high) they form the largest sheet of falling water in the world.  They are considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

All this, only 2300 km (1420 miles) from my home in East London, South africa.  Add to this that one of our favourite activities, our forest forays, are almost always about waterfall hunting, and that my darling brother and sister in-law live in Lusaka, only 470km (292 miles) from Victoria Falls,  I absolutely have to experience The Smoke That Thunders!

Before it thunders, the mighty Zambezi River flows languidly over a vast, flat plateau; suddenly plummeting in a single vertical drop into a transverse chasm carved into a fracture in the basalt rock, making the Victoria Falls unique in the fact that they can be viewed face on, from across the gorge.  Over time the Falls have receded upstream carving through a succession of seven gorges in a zig-zag pattern.  The river is dotted with tree-covered islands which increase in number as the river spreads, approaching the falls.  On the crest, Boaruka (Cataract) Island near the western bank, and Livingstone Island near the middle, divide the curtain of water into separate streams.

There are two distinct seasons:  very wet, when the river is in flood and “you can barely see your hand let alone the falls. The spray is so thick it rains upwards… Through gaps in the mist you’ll snatch glimpses of a wall of water thundering down with a terrifying roar. It’s an amazing feeling if a little low on close-up visuals.” (Namibia Tours & Safaris) and dry, when the volume of water is dramatically reduced and visibility is increased.  I’m opting for less water, more walking and site-seeing and the opportunity to swim in Devil’s Pool, a natural pool on the lip of the falls (video).

I am so excited!  Especially more so, since my boyfriend Jean has made the decision to accompany me.  Yay!!! 😀

Now for some pics.  What can I say, I think I’m one of those more is more people when it comes to pics.  So there’re a lot.  I collaged them into a kind of vision board.

Google map of Victoria Falls.

Isn’t our world extraordinary?! 🙂

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