Having seen the sunset over the Zambezi last night this morning we saw sunrise over the Victoria Falls. The local name for the Falls is Mosi-o-Tunya “The smoke that thunders” and it is a very apt name as the sheer force of the water drives a column of spray far into the air and drenching the edge of the Falls in a fine mist and at it’s peak from February to May the spray can be seen from 50 kilometres away. The Falls are in the National Park and there are very well laid out paths for the visitor to follow with 15 viewing points on the Zimbabwe side and a further four on the Zambian side with each giving a great vantage points to view the Falls. At the first viewing point there is a statue of David Livingstone who was the first European to cross Africa from south to north and came across the Falls in 1855 and he named them after Queen Victoria. There are a number of islands close to the falls on the Zambian side with the best known one being Livingstone Island and it is from here that you can walk out to the Devils Pools when the waters are low.
Victoria Falls are considered to be the largest falls in the world and they are an UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the seven natural wonders of the world. They are not the widest waterfall or the highest but with all dimensions taken into account, including almost the largest flow rate, they are considered to be the biggest curtain of falling water in the world. The Falls are so impressive and you realise the sheer power of water when you are standing in front of them and see the rushing water hitting rocks on the way down to the gorge and causing so much mist to rise into the air. It takes a couple of hours to wander from point one to the last point which overlooks the gorge and the Victoria Falls bridge and meander back to the information area but it is a gentle walk and we did not get very wet on this occasion. It was time for us to leave the Falls but not before a full rainbow appeared and for the first time ever I saw it run along the ground to where we were standing. Most impressive.
Our stay in Victoria Falls was coming to an end and we had an hours drive to the border to cross from Zimbabwe into Botswana at the border post of Kuzangula . This is the point where not only does the Chobe and Zambezi rivers meet but where four countries also meet, namely Namibia, Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. From Botswana you can cross into either Zambia or Zimbabwe but not into Namibia, that crossing is 56 kilometres further up the road in Botswana.
For the next two nights we are staying at a small lodge called the Chobe Bakwena Lodge in Kasane, a 10 minute drive from Kuzangula and it is situated overlooking the Chobe River. The lodge is small accommodating only 30 guests and the staff are so professional and nothing is a problem. All guests are offered two activities a day and on arrival we decided to do a boat cruise on this our first afternoon.
Sitting on a small boat cruising the Chobe River with elephants along the bank, buffalo on the island, hippos and crocodiles in the water with the sun setting in the background is really something special and I consider myself very privileged to be able to do this most years. We were very fortunate tonight as we witnessed a number of elephants swim over from the shore to the island where they proceeded to have a mud bath in a large hole on the island’s shoreline. The elephants were so funny, pushing and shoving each other to get a better position in the mud and then rolling over onto their backs and the funniest thing of all was watching them trying to get out of the bath. They would get their front legs up and over the sides but then fall back as they could not get enough momentum to get that rather large body up and over. The mud bath serves a couple of purposes for the elephants, it cools them down on a hot day, helps to get rid of skin pests and also acts like a skin moisturiser.
As the sun set our first night on the Chobe river came to an end and we returned to Bakwena for a lovely dinner on the deck overlooking the river. Another perfect day in Africa.