Friday & Saturday, July 17-18

This weekend, I played tourist at Victoria Falls. I have little to explain and a lot of pictures. You have been warned.

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Today, I realized in a visual epiphany that rainbows are actually arcs of a circle. Yes, I have seen a three hundred and sixty degree rainbow.

 

 

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Looking down the falls from the Zambian side.

 

 

Victoria Falls are on the Zambezi River, which forms the border between Zambia to the north and Zimbabwe to the south. The Falls themselves are a United Nations Heritage site, spanning the two countries with national parks on both sides. (The headland visible above is in Zimbabwe, the picture taken from Zambia.)

 

 

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David Livingstone, intrepid explorer. The Scottish missionary is the first European known to have set eyes on the Falls; both his wife’s name and his own are still greatly respected in the areas he explored. The family of Mary Livingstone nee Moffat, the daughter of missionaries herself, is still politically and philanthropically active in southern Africa.

 

 

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Zach, intrepid explorer and adventuring/tourist companion.

 

 

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The Victoria Falls Bridge, spanning the river just below the Boiling Pot. The bridge was constructed at the turn of the 20th century by Cecil Rhodes (of Rhodes Scholarship fame) as part of his dream to connect the Cape of Good Hope to Cairo by rail.

 

Victoria Falls fall perpendicular to the flow of the river. The bedrock is basalt, formed some 150 million years ago. As the lava cooled, it cracked, creating regularly spaced faults which were then filled in with deposits from the Karoo and Kalahari. When the Zambezi began to flow through the area following geologic upheaval 5 million years ago, it rapidly cleared the deposits covering the faults and began to erode the basalt blocks below. The fault lines have gradually eroded in that time, moving from one crack to the next; currently the Falls is at its 8th location. The eroded faults create a massive gorge downstream of the Falls. Basalt as a very hard rock does not erode readily, coming away in blocks rather than smooth grains. This results in the chunky appearance of the Falls and downstream gorge despite erosion.

 

 

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The Falls create so much water vapor that the ecosystem within a hundred yards of the water is classified as a rainforest. Move beyond that and you are again in the arid landscape of the surrounding country.

 

Our final stop on the two-day Grand Tour of Victoria Falls was the Victoria Falls Hotel, overlooking the Bridge and Gorge from the Zimbabwean side. It was beautiful (and the food was amazing), but I have never been anyplace that feels so colonial.

 

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Altogether, it was a good weekend.

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