Sunday, April 21, 2013

Victoria Falls: The Power of Nature

Though it wasn't intended, my recent trip throughout the land of Zim proved to be a lesson all about Mother Nature's relationship with the rawest, most beautiful continent in the world... 

Victoria Falls, "Mosi-oa-tunya", or Vic Falls as it's lovingly called in our country, is nothing if not powerful.  As I opened our car door for the first time, over a mile from the falls, the smell of fresh misty river water hit me in the face.  Our dry six hour car ride from Matopos led us past cracked fields shaded with baobab trees to the world's "largest sheet of falling water" in the world.

Vic Falls is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world.  But it is claimed to be the largest, based on its width of 5,604 ft and drop of 354 ft.  Numbers, shmumbers.  They really mean nothing until you stand at its side and feel the rumbling magnitude of the falls' force with nothing but some weeds between you and a plummeting cliff.

Awesome. Intense. Gorgeous. And so so wet.

The Zim national park across from the falls offers 16 different views of the curtain of water that roars between the border of Zim and Zambia. The waterfall runs parallel, first to the park's dry bush, then wet rainforest, vegetation that overlooks the Zambezi River's gorge of rapids.  Ponchos outside the park are rentable for a few dollars.  The first day we scoffed at ponchos as we entered, boiling from a hot trek, and laughed as we exited a mushy soaked mess.  The second day, older and wiser, we walked through the hot afternoon sunshine to enter the park and laughed again at the ponchos, but this time only because we had extra clothes zipped into plastic bags for our post-waterfall exit.

I am sheepish to admit I looked forward to Mosi-oa-tunya ("The Smoke that Thunders") the least of all our stops on the trip.  Like our visit to Niagara just nine short months earlier, before experiencing it I thought it would be good for about fifteen minutes of looking before I yawned and turned away with a, "What's next?"  And, worse yet, before visiting I had nightmares in which I watched my three year old slip off the side of the waterfall, falling to the crocodile-infested gorge below while I jumped in after him.  (Dysfunctional dream interpretation anyone?) We had also been warned that just after rainy season our hopes of actually seeing the falls through the mist were slim, and that the touristy town of Vic Falls would be the most expensive leg of our adventure.

So you can't blame me if I was less than excited when I had just begrudgingly left the incredible hills of Motopos. But oh how wrong I was.  Check off another World Heritage Site on our list; this is one place we never wanted to leave.

 Crocodile on a bed of linguine... something textured between chicken and fish- delicious!!

Wild animals run all over throughout the town as a calm collection of baboons, vervet monkeys, warthogs, and occasional elephants.  Charming.


The dry bush just a mere hundred yards before the dripping, muddy rainforest (below).

So many angles, some wetter than others, but all gorgeous!

Rainbows everywhere!!

Here friend Abbie stands in front of one of the islands that sits in the middle of the waterfall

Soaking soaking wet and so much fun!

The last view in the national park is the Victoria Falls Bridge, which connects Zambia and Zim.

 Down a dusty road from the national park is "The Big Tree," a 1000-1500 year old baobab tree with an 18 meter girth. We stand in front of it (below) and wish we could touch it.