I can’t imagine what David Livingstone must have felt when he came across what he called Victoria for the first time. The rushing water, thundering sound and incredible rain from a clear sky must have been almost too much to bear.
On a recent trip sponsored by Zambezi Airlines and Three Cities’ David Livingstone Lodge, I was able to experience the wonder of Mosi-oa-Tunya (the smoke that thunders) for the first time.
Our group started the trip in anticipation of the tour. While many of the group had been to the falls before, few had experienced them from the Zambian side. As a complete newbie, I had no idea what to expect. The night before the David Livingstone Lodge staff had kindly left bright orange Zambezi Airlines rain ponchos on our beds for the excursion. I didn’t really believe that I’d need it – that a few drops of water wouldn’t hurt me. I mean how much could there be?
I soon discovered my stupidity! The water of the falls plunges 108 metres, at great velocity, into the gorge below, spewing spray from 400 metres to a kilometre into the air. And what comes up must come down. And down it comes on in bucket loads. As I crossed Knife Edge Bridge or stood in the viewing areas on the cliffs opposite the falls, I felt compelled to spread out my arms, lift my face to the falling water and giggle like a child. My mind was still confused about rain falling from cloudless skies, but my body rejoiced.
Paul Nangana, our guide from David Livingstone Lodge, has a wealth of knowledge about the falls, although he didn’t overload us with facts and gave us time to wander the curling paths at our own pace. The falls are about the sensory experience and while the statistics are impressive, the sights, sounds and smells tell a much better story. I could have spent all day at the falls, simply standing and listening to the roar of the water and being refreshed by the droplets. But it was time to go.
The rest of the weekend was glorious – we drank in the Zambezi sunset on a river cruise, enjoyed delicious food and fantastic company, but the thundering smoke was unforgettable.