The Zambezi River with its world class waterfall, the unique gorges it has cut and the associated adventure safaris. The Zambezi covers the largest part of Zambia from the northwest through southern to the southeastern Zambia.Found on its course is one of Africa’s largest man-made lake. Lake Kariba is 280 kms long and 40kms at its widest. Alone this river says a lot about Zambia, Africa’s best kept secret.…And Zambia as the hub of African travel, adventure and wildlife.
The Wild Zambezi River
One river that deserves mentioning is the Zambezi River after which the country is named. From its source near Kaleni Hills in the northwestern corner of the country the Zambezi cuts a large inverted “S” shape as it flows through its course a total of 3,450 kms before discharging into the Indian Ocean. Its entrance at the ocean is dramatic for it ends in many river channels called a delta.The Zambezi passes through changing landscapes and environment. From the rapids in the notrhwest through the wide river and the site of the “Likumbi Lya Mize” ceremony of the Luvale people.
It then passes through the Zambezi floodplain where the Ku-omboka ceremony of the Lozi people takes place. Later the river traverses a hilly area and becomes wide and tranquil. Suddenly the river breaks into the world’s most spectacular waterfall.
This is the mystic and awe-inspiring Victoria Falls.Before the waterfall the Zambezi passes through a point near Kazungula where four countries meet; Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Nowhere else do countries converge on one point in a manner such as this.Down stream of the waterfall the Zambezi collects into a lake at Kariba Dam.
Down stream it is joined firstly by the Kafue, Zambia’s second largest river and secondly by the Luangwa River at a confluence where three countries meet: Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. …And before its mouth at the Indian Ocean the Zambezi River forms the second and larger lake at Cobara-Basa Dam in Mozambique.The Beautiful Victoria Falls
Now the Victoria Falls is something worth talking about. Its awesome, beautiful and a world heritage site. The Toka-Leya people of Chief Mukuni who have always lived there have built many shrines for their deities and ceremonies.
Because of the continuous thunder from the largest curtain of falling water and the accompanying mist that plumes from the bottom of the gorge they have called the waterfall “Mosi-Oa-Tunya” meaning the “smoke that thunders”. But I like the other name. “Shungu wa Mutitima.”.Little wonder Dr David Lingstone the famous Scottish missionary doctor and explorer could not resist to write in his dairy, “…scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.” Because the beauty is awesome.
Dr Livingstone was the first European to see the waterfall on November 16, 1855. He named it after Queen Victoria.At the bottom of the falls are red Kalahari sands. Opposite the waterfall it rains 24 hours a day 7 days a week (24/7). This mist rain nurtures a small rainforest.
And two rain bows too. One is seen during the day and the second occurs at night on a full moon. These are the popular solar and lunar rainbows of Victoria Falls …but then that’s another story!.Adventure Centre and the Safaris
After the Victoria Falls the Zambezi River passes through nine gorges it has cut down 122 metres deep. The nine gorges are in fact former waterfalls at different stages of the development and migration of the falls up stream.
This migration covers the past 150 million years!.Now the gorges are a spectacular sight. They also form part of the area where adrenaline pumping adventures take place – whitewater rafting over 22 rapids, bungi jumping through 122 metres, gorge swinging, abseiling, river boarding, jet boating, etc. It is for this reason that Livingstone town near the Victoria Falls is now recognized as the Southern Africa Adventure Centre.
If you have a daredevil spirit take to the air in a microlight flight. Fly over the Victoria Falls, watch animals in the nearby Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park…and get really close to the cascading water of the world’s largest curtain of falling water. But if you would rather like mundane pastime then you might want to enjoy the “Flight of Angels.” Hire a helicopter or indeed a rigid wing airplane. Even this choice will be your life’s memorable experience.Where to Stay
The banks of the Zambezi River are dotted with many lodges and camping sites.
A visit to the Zambezi Waterfront might be what you want. More interesting though is the theme designs of most lodges. They have a strong African architectural style.
The Sun International resort is the latest inclusion and is built closest to the Victoria Falls. The resort is a combo of two hotels: one, the Zambezi Sun is a three star hotel only minutes from the Victoria Falls and the other the Royal Livingstone is a five star royal opulence.The red walls of the Zambezi Sun depict decorative symbols of prehistoric times. The colour of these African drawings is similar to the Kalahari sands found at the bottom of the falls.
But the luxury of the Royal Livingstone is all very different. The ever present butlers and staff wear uniforms reminiscent of the dress of Dr Livingstone at the time he discovered the waterfalls one and half centuries ago. He named the waterfalls in honour of Victoria, then queen of England.
Next to the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park is another new hotel. Chrismar Hotel has just been completed near the 60 sq km national game park. It’s as if the hotels and lodges are ‘popping’ up everyday!.In Lusaka the capital city of Zambia you’ll find other exciting hotels and lodges; the 5 star Taj Pamodzi, the 5 star Hotel Intercontinental, Holiday Inn and other fine hotels.The private game lodges are all within fifty kms. Popular ones are the Lilayi Lodge, the Protea Safari Lodge, and Chaminuka.
But Siavonga at Lake Kariba has exciting lakeshore lodges. It’s only a two-hour drive from Lusaka. My advice…you’ll enjoy the hospitality of Zambia!.
How to Get to Zambia
The choice is wide. You can choose to arrive by air and land at any of the four international airports that have full custom and immigration facilities. Mfuwe International Airport is on the boundary with the Zambian premier game reserve, the South Laungwa National Park. Another is at Ndola on the Copperbelt of Zambia.
And yet another is the Lusaka International Airport 22 kms from the capital city of Zambia. But Livingstone International Airport is special. Only 8 kms from the Victoria Falls whose first sighting you get from the air on approach to landing.And then you may choose to arrive by road from any of the eight neighbouring countries but mainly from Bostwana, Namibia, Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
Get on a plane or car and come to Zambia …And you’ll leave without ever forgetting Zambia safari!.----------------------------------------..Enestle Zimba a geologist for over twenty years manages Zambia African Safari (ZAS) part time. Enestle promotes safaris and tourism in Zambia.and conservation is his greatest passion.
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By: Enestle Zimba