Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls

 

Shabnam Lall

 

The African continent has spectacular landscapes and wildlife that cannot be overlooked therefore whenever we think of Africa we think of wild animals and Safari. However, this wonderful continent has much more to offer than Safari animals. One of the most spectacular sights in Africa is Victoria Falls located on the Zambezi River and is one of the biggest tourist attractions of the continent.  This is the only waterfall on planet earth with a length of more than a kilometer and a height of more than hundred meters.

It is the fourth largest river in Africa and the largest waterfall in the entire world. Its noise can be heard from a distance of 40 kilometers. However, the spray and mist rising from the fall reaches a height of 400 meters and can be seen from a distance of 50 kilometers.  This specular sight of mist rising from the waterfall surprised the ancient African tribes and no wonder they named it Mosi-o – Tunyia “The smoke that thunders.”

This astonishing wonder was first discovered by David Livingston a famous Scottish missionary who named it Victoria Falls after Queen Victoria’ s name.  Livingstone explored this magnificent sight in 1855 whilst exploring Africa from South to North. Initially Livingstone was not fascinated with what he had discovered as he merely considered it a hurdle.  However, he later admired the scenic beauty of this wonderful waterfall in one of his letters. Livingstone wrote that no one in England could even imagine the beauty of this scene.

The Ancient African tribes were initially in awe of this beautiful sight hence they preferred staying away from it.  Initially only two British soldiers were willing to accompany Livingstone to the waterfall as there were afraid of this sight owing to myths and fables. In 1905 Victoria Falls began emerging as a popular tourist attraction after a railway to Bulawayo was built.  Victoria Falls witnessed a declined in the number of tourists in the 1960’s owing to the Guerrilla struggle in Zimbabwe. However, this African tourist attraction again became popular by the end of 1990’s as 300000 visited it every year. Today Victoria Falls is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where visitors can even walk in some parts of the waterfall during the dry season as the Zambezi River drops strikingly.  Victoria Falls is one of the most astonishing sights in the African Continent which is definitely worth visiting.

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