In a spectacular explosion of froth and spray, the Zambezi River plunges abruptly into a crack in the earth, like spilled water disappearing between two paving stones. Hitting the rocky bottom of the gorge, the water kicks vertically upwards, as though the shock of the river's sudden disappearance has flipped the world upside down, making rain fall from the ground. This soft mist drenches everything deeply and completely, showering tiny pinpricks on the skin like blood rushing back into sleepy limbs. An endless sheet of frantic water over a half-mile wide and 350 feet high, Victoria Falls - locally known as Mosi-oa-Tunya ("The Smoke That Thunders") - is unquestionably the largest waterfall in the world. And arguably the most stunning.
We were seven days into our Namibia & Zimbabwe Safari Tour and each day just kept getting better. Our first sight of Victoria Falls has lodged itself permanently into my memory. I'd never seen so many prisms of light, arcs catching every drop that fell, circles of color cutting through the air below us as we peered over the edge into the pit of smoking fog that swirled and sprayed and spat back up. Grabbing hold of each other we laughed, sang and danced through dewy rainbows.
Of all the places I've traveled, there's something here that I haven't found elsewhere. It's almost as though the ground has a heartbeat, a hum that resonates from my heels to the top of my head.
Later we sat sipping cocktails on the edge of the river at Matetsi Victoria Falls lodge in Zimbabwe, thinking back over our week. With Backroads, we were able to get up close and personal with the local flora and fauna as we hiked through private game reserves and dirt villages, past fields of waving sunflowers and smiling children. In Namibia, we'd looked out over the central watering hole from the pool of our stunning hotel, Onguma the Fort, as elephants and wildebeest drank their own sundowner. We'd seen leopard, cheetah, giraffe, buffalo, lion and zebra, and hiked right up to the fire-red Sossusvlei Sand Dunes. The week so far had been utterly remarkable, and it wasn't over yet.
The sunset over the Zambezi was breathtaking, a slow-motion slam-dunk of blazing orange into the sizzling African landscape. As everything was washed in the ethereal light of pre-dusk, we were quietly and contentedly immersed in Africa.