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Into the abyss

Victoria Falls thunder with awesome power

Victoria Falls Victoria Falls

The Zambezi River's gentle roll through Africa is interrupted abruptly and spectacularly when the flat basalt basin that forms the river's bed suddenly gives way, dropping the placid river over a cliff into a 100-meter (328-foot) deep gash between The Victoria Falls and a matching cliff across the way.

The now-churning waters -- two kilometers (1 1/4 miles) wide at the point of the falls -- rumble and roar and tumble through a narrow exit into the Batoka Gorge on its way to the Mozambique Channel off eastern Africa. Scottish missionary David Livingstone tagged the awesome falls Victoria, for the British queen, when, in 1855, he became the first white man to see them.

But native Africans had known their power -- and the towering spray rising a thousand feet in the sky over the Zambezi plain -- for ages. They called the falls "Mosi oa Tunya" (The Smoke that Thunders).

The hotels, bridges and trails that have sprung up around the falls are insignificant compared to the raw power of the river's drop and its wild ride out of the abyss.

Lusaka, Zambia

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Related Stories:

  • Destinations: Victoria Falls - October 23, 1996
  • Destinations: Tongabezi Lodge - December 21, 1996
  • Related Sites:

  • Africa Travel Gateway: Victoria Falls
  • Africa Insites: Victoria Falls
  • U.S. Consular Information Sheet - Zambia, Zimbabwe
  • CDC Travelers' Health - Central Africa (Zambia), Southern Africa (Zimbabwe)

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