Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Smoke That Thunders

The locals call Victoria Falls “Mosi oa Tunya” – The Smoke that Thunders. It’s well named too because at peak flow in May/June the spray rise three hundred metres or more, and looks for all the world like a huge plum of white smoke. It can be seen from miles away and is pointed out by the airline pilots on their final approach to either Livingstone or Victoria Falls airport.

The Zambezi River plunges into a deep gorge and forms a spectacular demarcation between Zimbabwe and Zambia or for those of you old enough to remember – Southern and Northern Rhodesia. The falls are best seen from the Zimbabwe side, especially towards the end of the dry season in September/October when pretty much all you’ll see from Zambia is the dry gorge wall. In May and June there can be sooooo much water that you might as well be standing in a tropical thunderstorm. It is incredible, you would not get any wetter if you actually fell into the Zambezi. Fortunately you can hire wet weather gear at the entrance to Victoria Falls National Park and the tour operators will usually supply it free of charge, though it can be a bit smelly.

There’s heaps of stuff to do there apart from admiring the falls. You can take an elephant-back safari, walk through the bush with lion cubs or have a seriously fattening high tea at the historical Victoria Falls Hotel. Then for those of you who are of somewhat doubtful sanity there is bungee jumping from the Victoria Falls bridge, grade five white water rafting and ultra-light aircraft flights over the falls. Call me a chicken if you like but there’s no way you’ll get me into something that both looks and sounds like a lawn mower with wings. Anyway, if you like flying lawnmowers its there for you. Personally I prefer the more conventional “Flight of Angels” in a helicopter.

Then there’s canoeing, game drives, game walks, day drips to Chobe, the list goes on.
Sunset cruises on the Zambezi are a great way to spend a couple of lazy hours. You drift down the river on any one of a couple of dozen vessels of varying size, all the while being plied with finger food and beer or wine. You watch the sunset – invariably a stunning show in this part of the world, and you observe the elephants bathing in the shallows and the hippos wiggling their ears with just their heads protruding from the water. There are crocodiles here too – big ones, up to seven metres in length. It is estimated that there is one every ten metres in this part of the river.

Many of the lodges have other activities and cultural shows that you can attend too, and one of my favourites – The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge on the Zimbabwe side has vulture feeding every day at one ’o’ clock. The vultures know it too. At twelve thirty hundreds of them can be seen spiralling on the thermals near the lodge. Hundreds more can be seen perched in nearby trees – all looking at their watches and waiting for their lunch. Then at the appointed hour one of the lodge’s guides appears with a chopped up sheep carcass and all hell breaks loose in a flurry of beating wings and a thick cloud of dust. One word of advice – don’t get too close, or if you do at least take an umbrella if you get my drift.

3 nights in at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge from $AU620.00 per person twin share.Price Includes: 3 nights accommodation, all transfers; breakfast daily, sunset cruise, dinner at the Boma and dinner in the Mukuwa-Kuwa restaurant in Victoria Falls.

For more information call Peter Emery at 0449 689 447

No comments:

Post a Comment