The waterfall’s nascent popularity in the west is attributed to Scottish explorer David Livingstone. Circa the 18th century, he ventured out to witness for himself what the natives called Mosi-oa-Tunya — The Smoke that Thunders. What he saw he later described as “… scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight”. The explorer also likened the ferocious gush of water falling over the basalt cliff to snow.
Victoria Falls fringes the confluence of Zimbabwe and Zambia. Today, its entrance has all the trappings of a tourist destination: a cashier counter to pay the admission fees; turnstile that permits your ingress; and a souvenir shop. The footpath is divided into 17 sections while the waterfall itself five main segments: Devil’s Cataract; Main Falls; Horseshoe Falls; Rainbow Falls; and Eastern Cataract. The Eastern Cataract is located in Zambia.
Traversing the footpath is a very wet experience. As we reached the Main Falls, spray and mist pelted us like rain. Here, the torrent of water hits a peak flow rate of seven hundred thousand cubic metres per minute. Wind, generated from the sheer velocity of the water hitting the rocks embedded at the gorge’s base, causes mist to billow like smoke up to a height of over 400 metres. Drenched though we were, we welcomed the respite from the balmy Zimbabwean weather.