World’s largest Curtain of Water – The Victoria Falls
While the whole world of social media laughed their asses off when Robert Mugabe fell – only a few people have a mere clue who that actually is and where Zimbabwe is located – I was on the ground to have a look at the mighty Victoria Falls of Zambezi River with my own eyes and not by the help of Google Earth & Co. Already 12 years ago I had the chance to see some of the largest waterfalls in the world that locals call Mosi-oa-Tunya or »the smoke that thunders«; that’s no surprise as when the falls are on full speed then you can’t hear yourself think and the cloud of spray can be seen from 30 kilometres distance.
At that place, that is also the direct border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, Africa’s fourth longest river, that is Zambezi, plunges some 110 metres deep into a basalt rock fissure being 50 metres wide and 1.7 kilometres long. In rainy season the river transports so much water towards Indian Ocean that the flow rate reaches the unimaginable mark of 10.000 m³/s, which is 10 million litres of water per second. At full throttle the Victoria Falls are the widest continuous curtain of water in the world.
If you really don’t have to cross into Zimbabwe, well, then leave it ;-) Mugabe Land is still quite specialised in dragging cash out of pockets; meaning car-wise, that you have to insure an already insured car additionally or the properly working indicator works only after a catalysing bribe has been made to the policeman viewing your car. Governmental as well as civil structures are very creative to make money. To avoid that lovely piece of crap I decided to do a day trip from Kasane in Botswana, that is 100km away from the falls.
In Kasane I meet Alan and Michelle, two South Africans living near Durban. We know us for a couple of minutes only but they already offer me a) a ride to Vic Falls and b) to stay in their house when I come to Durban. Great hospitality, isn’t it? At the Kazungula border I experience the opposite. Behind me is a German family that is quite puzzled about the immigration form. Back home they will surely have a big mouth that they’ve travelled Africa, but filling in a tiny simple immigration form isn’t their thing.
There’s no question that I help them. A small and nice conversation starts and since I don’t have transportation back to Botswana I ask politely and kind, the way my mother brought me up, if they could give me a lift. Instantly their mother snapped at me if (quotation) “[…] I am a bit round the bend?! We don’t take any stranger with us over the border in Africa. There are so many stories around!” Well, I have no idea what Rupert Murdoch press story that woman was thinking about, but in terms of solidarity such people have the best of potential to become nicer. How do we want to solve BIG problems like climate change with such disunited people?
Let’s get back to the falls that carry more water than statistically conceded. Well, all things called nature are everything but always the same. Even at a 30-40% performance the falls produce a tremendous spray that covers the opposite side of the escarpment letting a small local rain forest grow and a raincoat miss. It turns the rocky surface around Danger Point into a slide and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear from people having slipped and fallen into the gorge. Crocodile food, like locals call people getting to close to the gorge, however, the close view of the Devil’s Cataract and the main falls is highly hypnotising. It give a little impressions of what 10.000 m³, 10 million litres per second are able to do.
Logically at the main cataract the spray is strongest. Taking photos without little water drops on your lens? Simply forget it… :-) One litre of water also means the pressure of 1 kilogram. Many tourists get a first idea of that simple rule when they are faced with the elemental force of water during rafting, when they get kicked out of the raft and get pushed under water. Without life vest you’re doomed to die. That sleeveless little thing around your body keeps you away from 100% dead sure passing away by drowning.
I was so lucky with the weather as I had sunshine all the way. Meanwhile some clouds heavy with rain appeared though and it takes not much time until they unload. Within the blink of an eye we’re soaked to our bones. Now my Canon equipment has to prove what water-resistant really means. Not without bout of nerves I turn on my camera that dutifully says hello. I love my 1DX, I just love her. Reliably she captures the beautiful sun-induced rainbows that are name givers to the middle part of the Victoria Falls, the so called Rainbow Falls.
On the Zambian side, more specifically between the main cataract and the Rainbow Falls, you can see not a few half-naked tourists trying to enter the Devil’s Pool to get their selfie for money. At low water the water flow is so little that the pool provides an opportunity to have a bath right above the Victoria Falls’ escarpment. Due to significant corpulence some sunburn red-painted people float on the water like a puffy high seas buoy.
Due to the falls’ thundering you can’t really talk about tranquillity, but if every couple of minutes helicopter engine noise cuts the sound of the water then that is quite a proof of how the Zambezi falls developed commercially. 12 years ago the city of Victoria Falls was a gathering of dodgy shacks only, but now, in particular after Zimbabwe made officially friend with the US dollar, after a long lasting hard hyperinflation found an end, at least the city at the falls became a prospering town. One swallow does not make a summer, but “fallen Robert Mugabe” seems to be a bit cleverer than the internet do-gooders dare to show us. Nonetheless he’s a dictator whose non-bribed soldiers let me have a look into the barrels of their loaded rifles some 12 years ago.