Vic Falls: The theatre of tourism

by Sunday News Online | Sunday, Feb 12, 2017 | 819 views

In the deep waters of the Zambezi River, a spitting distance upstream the Victoria Falls, hippos flop together, male rivalry heating up in bloody territorial conquest. The vanquished male is forced to lurk hapless on Kandaha Island until it gathers sufficient confidence to mount yet another challenge. An array of scars on its fragile skin, give testimony to the dangerous perennial fights.

This is routine, as the fight for family ascendency always reaches fever pitch towards the mating season.

Somewhere on the banks, a crocodile — that huge monster of a reptile — smashes through the thick riverine undergrowth, like a turbo-charged engine towards the water, splashing into the river in sudden sluggishness, before disappearing into the raging waters.

At 4pm an array of high-powered boats huff, puff, and hobble at the instigation of the water waves, much to the delight of the tourists, while canoes ward off the deadly waters.

The boats range from those carrying eight passengers to the double decks carrying up to 120.

Here, tourists have the highest chance of seeing the crocodiles and the hippos at close range.

That huge hippo yawn — some 180 degree jaw opening —- is almost the preserve of the Zambezi River. It is magical and a rare spectacle.

But it should be known that the hippo is the most lethal water mammal and getting too close to it raises its adrenaline. The sunset cruise, which is a must, gives away the silhouette ghost of sunset, where acres and acres of camera space have been gobbled in pictures to ad to ephemeral memories.

Meanwhile, the Zambezi River continues carrying heaven’s vomit to the Indian Ocean, unperturbed by the events. Then there is the dinner cruise, on the water of the mighty Zambezi, Africa’s fourth largest river, after the Congo, Nile and Niger.

The Victoria Falls, the inexplicable geomorphological splendour is located almost half the length of the river and here, nature’s exhaustless generosity slashes mother earth into falls where millions of gallons of water plunge about 700 metres into an abyss of a plunge pool aptly named, the boiling pot.

Another spitting distance from the falls, is the Big Tree, the 1 500-year old baobab tree under which colonial expansionist and explorer David Livingstone spent his first night, a day before he was led by locals, Sussi and Chuma to the falls.

Legend has it that the Big Tree, which was later to hog Zimbabwe’s currency — the 10 cent coin, was the epicentre of the BaTonga, BaNambya and BaToka’s rainmaking ceremonies and traditional beer drinking binges.

Livingstone slept under the Big Tree specifically to defy the local spirits since he was a missionary but while there he heard a roaring sound, which murdered his sleep for a while.

Later the sound of gushing water lulled him to sleep. In the morning he asked the two locals and was told that the sound of the Mosi-oa Tunya, the smoke that thunders.

When Livingtsone finally got there, he named the falls after Victoria, the Queen of England, effectively marketing it to the western community.

Past the falls, as the Heaven’s vomit flows in through the Devils Cataract, the Danger Falls, its roaring sound which is accompanied by the melodious sound of birds makes perfect music for the wildlife in the wetland.

The ever-cascading rain drops from the rain forest are an endorsement of the spirits of the land of BaNambya, the BaTonga and BaToka.

Here, there are rapids, where helmeted, safety-jacket wearing water devils, do play in the frothing water.

You will be able to go to the boiling point and view the falls from underneath, a privilege which many visitors to the falls do not enjoy.

You are also able to see those doing gorge swing, bungee jumping and gliding.

Here again, the water moves at its fastest, at times going at 200km per hour, turning and twisting between stones and plunge pools and narrow gorges.

In terms of international natural cataracts and rapids are graded to number six.
Zambezi just below the Victoria Falls is rated up to five. This is called commercial suicide. You do it at the risk of your life. The Zambezi has 24 cataracts.
While down the river surfing or rafting, there is a buzz of the helicopters, flying above the falls, aptly named the Flight of the Angels!
There are two helicopter companies each in Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The flight above the falls is a must. There, you feel what angels on their flight to Heaven, felt when they flew past.
Honestly they must have stopped and gazed.

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