Victoria Falls ~ Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, “The smoke that thunders”!

Saturday January 31st – Victoria Falls ~ from both the Zimbabwe and Zambia sides

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls – from Zambia side

Victoria Falls is located on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia. Fed by the Zambezi River, it is statistically the largest waterfall in the world.

“This recognition comes from combining the height and width together to create the largest single sheet of flowing water.” ~

It is one mile wide (1.7 km) and 360 feet high (108 meters). It is also called Mosi-oa-Tunya which means “smoke that thunders”. As a comparison, Victoria Falls is roughly twice the height of North America’s Niagara Falls and well over twice the width of its Horseshoe Falls. Iguazu Falls, on the border of Argentina and Brazil, comes in at a close second in overall volume.

Considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, it is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Protected by two national parks, we started our tour on the Zimbabwe side.

Most of our group at the entrance to Victoria Falls

Most of our group at the entrance to Victoria Falls – we are still dry here!

Immediately upon our arrival we were offered bright yellow rain coats to rent. I believe they were $5 each. Tim only had a twenty and the vender had no change, but promised to watch for us when we returned the jackets and give us our change then.

And boy-o-boy did they come in handy. The closer we got to the falls, the climate sucked us in and the name “rainforest” became more than a reality.

It poured! I envisioned Noah fast at work preparing for the next great flood.

The falls seemed to create its own climate zone. If we stepped a dozen yards back, the rains eased up and even stopped in places.

Trying to shelter our cameras, and not drown, our pictures from this side of the falls are a bit sketchy, but we did get Gus out to let him enjoy the views.

Gus got a little protection from Tim's raincoat

Gus got a little protection from Tim’s raincoat

Water droplets on the flowers

Water droplets on the flowers

I loved that we had plenty of time to enjoy the moment, the views, and the experience. I did not feel rushed, and having come so far to see this natural wonder, we simply soaked (no pun intended) it in. We even had a chance to grab a snack before meeting up with our group again.

A little pick me up, coffee and local liquor.

A little pick me up, coffee and local liquor.

Zimbabwe uses the US dollar for their currency. Since they do not print them, the bills are ratty, dirty and torn. They do however mint a coin of their own. The locals do not like to use it, and normally round the bill up to the nearest dollar and give only paper change. This is what the 25 cent coin looks like.

As we walked toward the kiosk to return our rain jackets, the vendor waved to us. He did indeed remember us and handed Tim his $10 change. Local musicians danced, drummed and sang for us as we once again loaded onto our bus.

It was time to go through border crossing formalities once again and cross over into Zambia.

The crossing went smoothly. The malaria warning sign stood out for me as we passed by.

Malaria warning sign

Malaria warning sign

Many in both of our groups were taking malaria pills. I took all the precautions when I traveled to Kenya and Tanzania 40 years ago, but this time Tim and I chose to not take the pills because of common side effects. Tim did visit a safari specialist and got two mosquito sprays that we used religiously. One was for our clothing and the other for our skin.

We also did not get any shots other than our Hep A and B. So no Yellow Fever or Typhoid shots.

The Yellow Fever vaccine is not required for this itinerary. Ebola was not an issue for us either as it is not in any of the countries we were visiting. In fact we are much closer to Texas, (which had an Ebola case) than we were to any of the infected areas on the African continent!

Zambia Side

Welcome sign on the Zambia side of the falls

Welcome sign on the Zambia side of the falls

The weather seemed dryer on this side. Perhaps the direction the wind blows vs. the alignment of the falls? Who knows, but we opted not to rent a rain jacket on this side.

Boy was that a mistake!

Looking down from the center of this bridge

Looking down from the center of this bridge gave me the trill of a lifetime!

This was my favorite place on the entire walk. Standing in the middle of this bridge, looking down I noticed a beautiful, brilliant double rainbow. Rainbows have such a special meaning to me and my family, and every time I see one, I say “hello” to my mother who passed away two years ago.

But this was no “ordinary” double rainbow…

As I slowly turned and continued to look under the bridge, I realized that the rainbow made a complete circle. I have never, ever witnessed something this amazing. I did not even know it was possible, or if it even exists anywhere else on the planet.

Just a part of the rainbow circle, as I looked down from the bridge

Just a part of the rainbow circle, as I looked down from the bridge

Pure Magic!

I enjoyed seeing the falls from both sides, but the Zambia side was my favorite. If you have the chance to get here to see it for yourself, please don’t miss checking out the Zambia side and the magical rainbow bridge.

Wanting a little something, near the exit to the park, we stopped and purchased two chocolate Magnum ice cream bars. Brian was in the process of wrangling everyone back toward the bus, so we quickly headed that direction.

How quickly Tesse’s words of warning came back to me, (do not have any food on you when near baboons) as we were suddenly in the sights of about 20 adult and juvenile baboons – and Tim and I are eating ice cream!

They came aggressively in our direction. As we shooed them, and made angry noises at them, they continued to approach us. Tim tossed what was left of his ice cream toward them, trying to divert them. About a dozen baboons swarmed the offering.


Have you seen how big their teeth are? – Photo courtesy of

Stubbornly, I was not about to give up my treat so easily.

And they continued to get closer… (Have you ever seen what BIG teeth they have?)

Finally I hollered loudly at them, and one of the guards near the exit, saw our dilemma and chased them off with a large stick.

Whew, close call, but boy was that ice cream tasty.

Several members of our group had booked optional activities that included a helicopter flight over the falls and bungee jumping from the bridge.

Could you bungie jump from this bridge?

Victoria Falls Bridge – Could you bungee jump from this bridge?

We walked out to the middle of this bridge and looked down for another wonderful view.

View from Victoria Falls Bridge

View from Victoria Falls Bridge

Our day was not over as we had a special dinner planned at the world-famous Boma where we would be celebrating Ben’s birthday. I decided to do a separate post to describe our unique evening.

Gratitude Moment: Today I am especially grateful for having witnessed one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, but even more for the thrill of seeing a rainbow make a complete circle under the bridge. I did not even realize this was possible. My heart was so full.

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our latest adventure. We hope you will join us!
This entry was posted in Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Victoria Falls ~ Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, “The smoke that thunders”!

  1. John Love says:

    Your blogs really are a way for us more border locked people to enjoy the world. Pictures are great, the writing is very good, thank you for all the time you spend allowing us to travel with you!


  2. Mike Alesko says:

    With the photos alone being incredible, i can only imagine being there! What did it feel like from an emotional and sensory standpoint, Joanne? Also, what others of the 7 Wonders have you seen?


    • Hi Mike, of the 7 natural wonders, the only other one we have seen is the Grand Canyon. Seeing Victoria Falls was a special moment and one I will not forget. Initially, I was more focused on trying to keep my camera dry. After getting soaked to the skin, we simply walked and tried to take it in. The second part of the day from the Zambia side was by far my favorite. Seeing the rainbows, especially the full circle under the bridge still evokes strong emotion for me.


  3. Tiny says:

    Great photos! My favorite observation point was the bridge…there was an old, much smaller and not so sturdy one before the current bridge was built. And yes, getting soaked was an experience too 🙂


  4. Wow! What an incredible experience! Amazing Pictures!


  5. adventlife says:

    Thanks for sharing those pictures!


  6. mytiturk says:

    Travel is a wonderful privilege. I enjoy every part of it: the journey, for me, includes preparation, action, reflection before and after, and sharing throughout. The experience is seamless.


  7. A great adventure. I used to live in Zim and the Falls were a special treat every visit. So pleased you got to see them too 🙂


  8. I have fond memories of Zambia and Victoria Falls (visited in 2008). Great blog. We aspire to be doing what you’re doing in the not too distant future. Thanks for visiting my blog.


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