Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe – a Return Visit

Some pictures and descriptions below of my trip to Victoria Falls during my return visit to what was, by this time, Zimbabwe. But first…

(If you’d like to jump straight to pictures of my Victoria Falls visit click here).

I explained how I grew up in Rhodesia (now called Zimbabwe) back here. It was a fantastic place to grow up.

Rhodesia was originally established when Cecil Rhodes was given a charter by Queen Victoria in 1889 to prospect for minerals north of the Limpopo River.

He negotiated mineral rights with the Ndebele King Lobengula, which resulted in the Moffat treaty and, in 1895, Rhodes took his Voortrekkers across the Limpopo into what is now Zimbabwe.

The charter was granted to the British South Africa Company, so the initial column that marched North was part of a commercial exploration, rather than a colonising power.

By 1918, though, the Voortrekkers had settled and a formalised system of administration had been set up.

This comprised a Legislative Council that acted as a check and balance on the British South Africa Company (BSAC), which effectively ruled the territory.

But in that year, the British Courts ruled that land within the area controlled by the BSAC, but which was not privately owned, belonged to the crown – a ‘land grab’ which triggered a powerful movement for self-government.

Self-government was eventually granted by charter in 1923, and was followed by an election in 1924 that established the first Southern Rhodesian government.

In the decades that followed Southern Rhodesia became part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland until that collapsed in 1963. On its collapse Southern Rhodesia became Rhodesia (still a British territory) and then, in 1965, declared itself independent from Britain.

There followed years of International trade sanctions (instigated by Britain as punishment for declaring independence), the first black Prime Minister (Bishop Abel Muzorewa in 1978) and, eventually, the Lancaster House agreement in 1979.

The Lancaster House agreement saw Rhodesia (by then called Zimbabwe-Rhodesia) committing to a general election that was to be held the next year and include candidates from the Patriotic Front (an alliance of ZANU and ZAPU) under a temporary British Governor (Nicholas Soames).

That election resulted in the accession to power of Robert Mugabe, who presided over unprecedented corruption, 24,000% inflation, the 100 Trillion Dollar banknote and the complete destruction of the economy.

Back in 1977, during the height of the bush war, it was clear that the country could not sustain the war effort for much longer.

At the time I was a secretary in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to two committees. They considered applications from businesses for allocations of foreign exchange to fund projects, and in that position I could see just how broke the country was.

So I took the decision to leave.

It was 22 years before I returned, which I did in December 1999 – my girl-friend at the time and I saw the new millennium in at Victoria Falls.

On that trip we covered a lot of territory, and the pictures below are from our time at Victoria Falls, from where we also took a short trip into Botswana to visit the Chobe Game Reserve (which I’ve written about here).

Victoria Falls

We had spent the previous few days at Kariba, which I’ll write about separately, and flew in to Victoria Falls (this picture is not one of mine, it comes from a Facebook group but I don’t know whose it is – if it’s yours please let me know so I can get your permission and provide the attribution!):

Victoria Falls from the air

The first European to discover Victoria Falls was David Livingstone. He named it after Queen Victoria, but it had already been named by the indigenous population as ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’, which means ‘the smoke that thunders’.

The power of the water going over the falls, especially at the height of a good rainy season, is immense. They can be heard from up to 40 kilometers away, and the spray that is thrown up can reach up to 400 meters high and creates a light rain.

In this part of Africa there are only two seasons: wet (summer) and dry (winter).

These next two pictures, which also are not mine (if they are yours please get in touch so I can get your permission and provide attribution) show how the water flow over the falls changes between the seasons:

Victoria Falls in the dry season:

Victoria Falls in the Dry Season

And in the wet season:

Victoria Falls in the Wet Season

This may look like it was a grey day, but it wasn’t – it was only the spray, and that season was not a good one for the rains:

The main falls at Victoria Falls

Of course, being Africa there’s a lot of wild life around. This Impala was just watching us as we wandered along the track through the rain forest by the falls:

Impala at Victoria Falls

Having spent the day wandering around the falls, and getting soaked in the process, there’s little to beat a sunset cruise on the Zambesi, above the falls.

This cruise takes about an hour and includes drinks and snacks (or, at least, did when we took it!). You get to see game along the river’s edge drinking in the cool of the evening, and an African sunset:

Sunset cruise on the Zambesi River

A great way to end the day!

Today, there are numerous attractions at Victoria Falls – white water rafting and bungee jumping are two popular ones, but there are others.

Like so many places, it’s become more and more commercialised.

Test your knowledge! Have fun with one of our travel quizzes – click here!

Have you been to Victoria Falls? Tell us about it in the comments!

Martin Malden

Martin Malden
The Expat Traveller

What do you think?

4 comments… add one
  • Paula Feb 16, 2020 @ 12:54

    This is a phenominal article. I love the pictures. It’s not every day I get to see pictures from an individual of Africa. Your story is quite unique. You were actually part of the government back in the day? Fascinating! Thanks for the background on the political structure in the area. Really great article. Thank you.

    • Martin Malden Feb 16, 2020 @ 13:04

      Hi Paula,

      Great – glad you enjoyed it!

      Yes – I was on a Rhodesian Government grant for my university time, and the quid pro quo was that I had to work for the government for the same number of academic years that they sponsored.

      So I went into the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, which, because of the trade sanctions, was considered a ‘frontline’ ministry. Interesting times!

      Cheers,

      Martin.

  • Matt Lin Feb 20, 2020 @ 22:44

    Hi Martin,
    I love this article about Victoria Falls, and your photos help us to visualize this place.

    I also like animals, so it will be great that I could eventually visit Victoria Waterfalls. May I know you go there with a tour guide or just by yourself with a map? It seems quite wild in this area.

    As for the Chobe Game Reserve in Botswana, I see more animals. Is the day trip taking half-day or a whole day to finish all sightseeing spots? I am very interested. 🙂

    Cheers,
    Matt

    • Martin Malden Feb 21, 2020 @ 8:08

      Hi Matt,

      I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      At Victoria Falls we did not have a guide – we just explored and sorted things out for ourselves.

      The trip to Chobe, which was a full day trip, we did have a guide.

      Cheers,

      Martin.

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