The River Zambezi crashes some 120 metres in a spectacular drop into a massive rift in the rock, before turning sharp right to flow under the majestic Victoria Falls bridge.
The Falls look rather less spectacular at present – a combination of the dry season (at the time of writing its raining heavily as the wet season approaches), coupled with the fact that the Zambian authorities have diverted the river to feed its hydro-electric facility.
The resultant falls – on the Zambian side (right side of the picture)– are limited to a few cascades, exposing the rock face which would normally be hidden behind a vast curtain of roaring water and the distinctive plume of ‘smoke’.
Looking towards the Zimbabwean side of the falls, the plume of ‘smoke’ is very distinctive forming a vast cloud of spray high above the falls.
The Falls will revert to normal as the wet season approaches, but Livingstone would certainly have been less impressed had he seen them today!
The River Zambezi, marks the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The name Zambezi is reputed to be derived from Gwembe Tonga “Nsambeyi” where it is safe to bathe i.e. no crocodiles.
The Victoria Falls bridge spans the Zambezi gorge, providing a transport link between the countries. Commissioned by the British South African Company (BSAC), the bridge was a vital part of Sir Cecil Rhode’s unfulfilled dream of building a railway from ‘Cape to Cairo’.
The BSAC was a British government sanctioned company, given the role of managing the whole of Western and Northern Rhodesia (modern day Zambia). Given a Royal Charter in 1899 (modeled on the British East India Company), Rhodes hoped that the company would promote the colonisation of and economic exploitation of south central Africa, as part of the “Scramble for Africa”.
The bridge which was completed in 1905 (after Rhodes’ death), now serves as a route for the transport of minerals and other goods from the heartland of Zambia to all parts of the world, in particular China.
The Chinese are big investors in Zambia – and many other countries in Africa.
On the road from Lusaka to Livingstone, we passed dozens of lorries laden with copper ingots from the Copperbelt in Western Zambia, enroute to Maputo for onward shipment to China…the exploitation of Africa continues to this day.
The irony certainly wouldn’t have been missed by Rhodes!