VICTORIA FALLS, ZAMBIA/ZIMBABWE. A bridge crosses the Zambezi River right on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Heavy with traffic, the bridge is also used for bungee jumping as well as vantage point for visitors who want to experience the mighty Victoria Falls.
And there he goes: Bungee jumping at the Victoria Falls.
I’ve arrived at the attraction from the Zambezi side, and, after having flagged down a taxi to the border, finds myself standing at the bridge just as a young British guy is about to send himself off towards the roaring river far below.
My stomach almost turns at the sight.
Monkeys, that sometimes bite visitors, linger in the jungle at both sides of the road, where fully loaded trucks pass back and forth between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The actual Victoria Fall is viewed from its opposite side, with the falls throwing itself down in a narrow fault in the ground.
The Victoria Falls on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia can be reached from two directions, from Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean side features a town called Victoria Falls, in an attempt to attract tourists. The place is full of cheap fast food joints, some hotels and hawks trying to sell worthless Zimbabwean notes to tourists. The place is not very welcoming. You’ll be better off going to the Zambian side, where the city Livingstone, named after the famous explorer, features real restaurants, rows of good quality hostels and shops.
According to Wikipedia David Livingstone is believed to have been the first European to view Victoria Falls on 16 November 1855 from what is now known as Livingstone Island, one of two land masses in the middle of the river, immediately upstream from the falls on the Zambian side.
The numbers and size of the falls are immense. Here’s some facts to ponder, brought from Wikipedia:
The falls are formed as the full width of the river plummets in a single vertical drop into a transverse chasm 1708 metres (5604 ft) wide, carved by its waters along a fracture zone in the basalt plateau. The depth of the chasm, called the First Gorge, varies from 80 metres (260 ft) at its western end to 108 metres (354 ft) in the centre. The only outlet to the First Gorge is a 110 metres (360 ft) wide gap about two-thirds of the way across the width of the falls from the western end, through which the whole volume of the river pours into the Victoria Falls gorges.
The Victoria Falls. Photo: Erik Bergin/TravelingReporter.com
The setting of the falls is about as dramatic as they come. At the time of the Reporter’s visit, in March, the water level is high and the mighty falls send water steam high in the air, drops that fall as a steady summer’s rain wherever you go in the close vicinity of the falls. Rain coats can be rented for $1USD.
Entering the area through a park gate, where you pay a small fee, you can walk the opposite side of the falls on a narrow path for almost its full length, with the water roaring close by. This is not without dangers — make sure not to venture too close to the fault, as there are no safety barriers or fences. After all, this is Africa.
Also, don’t forget to bring your camera – with water protection. Even with a rain coat, you’ll get completely wet if your visit coincides with high tide.
When the falls are over and done with, there are still tons of things to do in the area. Check with your hostel staff, or ask other tourists you meet, for any of the following ideas:
• Safaris are of course big in southern Africa. Multiple outfits arrange safaris, both river safaris on the Zambezi as well as traditional 4X4 adventures in Zambia and Botswana. The Traveling Reporter can recommend the river safari, where you go by mini bus across the river, and then by boat to see hippos, alligators and elephants.
• Walk with lions.
For the daring, there are options around to walk with lions out in the free. At the time of our visit, in 2011, a program was in force in Zambia where lions were bred in large fenced areas until they were about 18 months, after which they were set free. Until then, tourists were brought to walk with the lions in the woods. This attraction, if it can be called that, is obviously not without dangers, but guides and keepers will accompany you.
• River cruise.
Why not round off your visit with a leisure cruise on the Zambezi
for drinks and food, as the sun sets over the African wastelands of Zambia.