One of the most amazing natural phenomena included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites is located in South Africa on the Zambezi River. The name of this phenomenon, causing delight and admiration – Victoria Falls.
The feeling of admiration is caused not only by the cascade of water falling from a height of 120 meters, then divided into many separate jets, then converging into a single plume like a monolithic wall, but also the flow of boiling water through a narrow gorge, which is 13 times narrower than the Zambezi River falling from the rocks. A stream rushing down a width of 1,800 m, with a roar rushes into a narrow passage, whose width is only 140 m at the widest point of its vent. Further, the gorge of the gorge shrinks to 100 m and water rushes into this crevice noisily, spitting out with clouds of the smallest splashes that hang in the air and rise from blows hundreds of meters above the solid wall of a giant stream falling from a height. It is not the largest waterfall in the world in height, but in its grandeur it undoubtedly surpasses Niagara and Iguazu Falls .
Yes, not the highest, but the widest. Victoria is the only waterfall that has almost 2 km in length with a height of just over 100 m. But the most unique is the plume of water that the waterfall tilts down: it is so smooth that it seems as if instead of water from a rocky summit comes a clear transparent glass. Plume density: 1,804 million cubic feet per minute. Not a single waterfall of the world can boast of such a dense water plume!
In addition, crystal-diamond splashes rise above the Batoka Canyon, where a narrowing gorge is located, which receives a stream of water (up to 400 meters), and they are visible at a distance of 60 km on a clear day.
Off the west coast of Zimbabwe, the Zambezi jets are divided into three parts by several islands covered with lush tropical vegetation. The eastern part of the river, which belongs to the state of Zambia, is disturbed by a smooth current of the river about 30 large and small rocky islands.
Zambia and Zimbabwe “own” a waterfall on equal terms, the borders of these states lie along the calm shores of Zambezi.
The river freely carries its waters along the flat plain of Savannah to the Indian Ocean, starting its way in the black swamps and washing out its course among soft sandy rocks. Washing the islets with small trees and shrubs, the river is wide and lazy, until it reaches a rocky cliff, from where it plummets down with roar and noise. This is the watershed between the upper and middle Zambezi, the boundary of which is Victoria Falls.
Who discovered the Victoria Falls?
The Zambezi River got its geographical name thanks to the Scottish explorer and missionary David Livingston. It is difficult to say who he was more – a missionary or research scientist, but the fact remains: David Livingston was the first European who managed to go so far along the channel of this fourth-largest river in Africa, “carrying the Christian faith to black tongues”, and at the same time exploring those parts of the African continent where the white man’s foot has not stepped. And only he has the right to be called the discoverer of the Victoria Falls.
From the local Makololo tribe, which from time immemorial placed its simple dwellings near the waterfall on the river bank, Livingston learned that in the local dialect the name of the river sounds like Kzasambo-Weizi. He marked something like this on the map: “Zambezi”. So the river that feeds the Victoria Falls, received the official name on all maps.
Some streams of the cascade are so small that they do not have time to return to the stream and are scattered by thousands of thousands of diamond splashes right in the air, mixing with the rainbow haze that envelops the waterfall all the time. Livingston was simply overwhelmed. Probably, the impression of the Victoria Falls was intensified by a rainbow that the missionary scientist saw on the waterfall on a moonlit night. Few of the lucky ones were able to observe this phenomenon. This happens when high water levels in the Zambezi coincide with the full moon.
On the horizon a huge silvery-white moon is floating, illuminating, like a ghostly lantern, a silent forest, a smooth, sparkling white stars on the surface of the river and a bubbling waterfall. And over it all hangs a multicolor rainbow, arched like a bow bow, with one end resting on the black velvet of the sky, and drowning the other in myriads of water droplets.
And all this splendor is possible in just 3 days. It is impossible to guess, despite the fact that high water is kept in Zambia from January to July, but the night rainbow at the waterfall does not “indulge” at all with its frequent appearance.
The story of the waterfall
The scientist, who discovered for himself and for the rest of the world all the unique beauty of the clear water of the Zambezi River streaming down from the rocks on November 17, 1855, was simply stunned.
– It’s dust from the wings of the angels! He whispered. And he added, as a true Briton, – God save the queen! So this water cascade got its English name – Victoria Falls.
Later Livingston will write in his diaries: “This is the only English name I have ever given any part of the African continent. But, God sees, I could not do otherwise! ”
Emil Holub (a Czech historian-researcher) spent several years on the banks of the Zambezi, although it took him only a few weeks to compile a detailed map of the waterfall, so strongly attracted his power of this waterfall. “I eat his strength! – said Emil Golub, – And not in a position to tear his gaze from this power! ”As a result, having arrived at Victoria Falls in 1875, he published his detailed plan only in 1880.
The British artist Thomas Baines, who arrived in Africa, intrigued by stories about another miracle of nature, painted paintings, in which he tried to convey all the unique beauty and fascinating power of the Victoria Falls. These were the first images of Victoria Falls, which saw the inhabitants of Europe.
Meanwhile, the waterfall had its own, parochial names. Three whole:
- Soengo (Rainbow).
- Chongue-Wazy (Waterless).
- Mosi-oa-Tunya (Smoke that Rattles).
Today, the World Heritage List recognizes two equivalent names behind a waterfall: Victoria Falls and Mozi-oa-Tunya.
More interesting facts
The island, from which David Livingstone first had the opportunity to admire the greatness of the waterfall, today bears his name and is located in the very center of that part of the top of the canyon, which belongs to the country of Zambia. In Zambia, around Victoria Falls, a national park has been established, bearing a “national” name – “Thundering Smoke” (“Mozi-oa-Tunya”). On the country side of Zimbabwe there is exactly the same national park, but it bears the name “Victoria Falls” (“Victoria Falls”).
Of course, whole herds of zebras and antelopes roam the territories of these reserves, the long-necked animal giraffe walks, there are lions and rhinos, but the parks are not particularly proud of the fauna, but the flora – the Singing Forest, which is also called the Weeping.
A huge amount of the smallest drops of the waterfalls rises for many miles around, and the water dust irrigates the trees constantly growing in the forest and “tears” continuously flow from them. If you move a little further away from the abyss, in order to weaken the sound of water noise and listen, you can hear a ringing, twang sound like a buzz of a string — the forest “sings”. In fact, this sound is emitted by the same mist, constantly hanging above the green array.
What else is worth knowing?
Of course, the waterfall itself! In addition to its unique width, the ledges of the abyss, where the water falls, are also unique, so they are called “falls”.
Total falls 5:
- The eye of the devil . Often referred to as “Cataract” or “Devil’s Font”. Its name is this natural bowl, located about 70 meters from the upper edge of the abyss and about 20 square meters. m. area The narrow stone pool, formed as a result of a water fall, got its name from a small island in the neighborhood, where local pagan tribes used to offer human sacrifices. The Europeans who came after Livingstone called such a ministry to the black gods “devilish”, hence the name of the island and the cup. Despite the fact that now you can go down to the pool with the help of a guide (who knows exactly which descent is the safest), in order to admire the unreal view of falling water from a height of over 100 m, the Devil’s Bath still collects its heathen harvest, taking 2 3 people per year.
- The main waterfall . Of course, this is the most majestic and widest curtain of water, diving from a height with a speed of 700,000 cubic meters / min. In some parts of it, the water does not have time to reach the Batoka gorge and, caught in by mighty winds, it breaks in the air, forming thousands of thousands of small splashes, creating a dense fog. The height of the main waterfall is about 95 m.
- Horseshoe or Dry Falls . Height is 90-93 m. It is famous for the fact that it dries out from October to November, and even in ordinary time, the amount of water does not shine in the direct sense of this expression.
- Rainbow waterfall . The highest of all falls – 110 m! On a clear day, the rainbow mist of billions of hanging drops is visible for several tens of kilometers, and only here at the full moon you can see the moon rainbow.
- East threshold . This is the second highest drop – 101 m. The eastern threshold is completely on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls.
In order for Victoria Falls to be seen and to make a lot of great photos from different sides, several sites were taken. The most popular is the knife blade. It is located right on the bridge across the waterfall, from which you can see the Eastern threshold, the Boiling Cauldron, and the Eye of the Devil.
Pictures that remain in memory after visiting Victoria Falls are in no way inferior in brightness to the impressions received during a visit to this miracle of nature. And to make these pictures more severely bumped into memory, you can order a flight excursion from a bird’s-eye view on a helicopter or, conversely, rafting on a kayak or canoe.
In general, after the construction of the railway in 1905, the flow of tourists to the waterfall increased to 300 thousand people per year, however, since there is no political stability in African countries, this flow has not increased for the last 100 years.