Taking the Zambezi option
Hemingway would have approved of a luxury lodge just upstream from the magnificent Victoria Falls – and so will you, writes Jenny Stevens
IT’S known as Mosi Oa Tunya, ‘‘ the smoke that thunders’’, and as we gingerly inched across the sliver of salvation that is the Knife Edge Bridge, it was a far more accurate description than explorer David Livingstone’s genteel choice, Victoria Falls.
This water wasn’t falling – it was thundering over the edge into the 100m chasm to our right with a deafening roar. The churning cauldron below was invisible, lost in the sheet of water flung upwards by the force of the drop.
Knife Edge Bridge links slippery basalt outcrops facing the falls and is the last stop on what is essentially a Kodak trail from the Zambian-side entry gate.
At the end of the dry season in November, when the water levels are low and the Zambezi splits into narrow waterfalls across the 1.7km width of the chasm, the bridge would be a good camera stop, but not now. Not when late rains have swollen the mighty river until it is bursting its banks and roaring over the edge of the fissure in the largest single sheet of falling water in the world.
This is when the spray can rise 300m and be seen up to 50km away as a white cloud hovering over the river. Up close, rainbows and moonbows dance in the spray as light is refracted in the mist rising from the base.
Even Livingstone, the first European to see the falls in 1855, was inspired to write: ‘‘ Scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.’’
Today, they are gazed upon by thousands who come in rain jackets and ponchos to see this modern wonder of the natural world from either the Zambian or the Zimbabwean side, or both. Is one better than the other? At the moment politics is speaking louder than beauty and many are choosing Zambia until the situation in Zimbabwe improves.