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Devil's Pool at Victoria Falls

Posted: Friday, August 31, 2012
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  • Devil's Pool at Victoria Falls
  • Devil's Pool at Victoria Falls
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The Victoria Falls, also called Mosi-oa-Tunya ("the smoke that thunders") by those who live near the southern African phenomenon, are a waterfall span of 5,604 feet along the Zambezie river between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Though neither the highest nor the widest on earth, Victoria's falls are designated the largest based on combined height (354 feet) and width, which produce the most massive single sheet of falling water in the world.

The falls' evil twist manifests as a renowned, naturally-formed aquatic body near their edge called the Devil's Pool. From September to December, the Zambezie's flow typically reaches a level that allows a rock barrier to form a pool with little current. During these times, people hop in for a swim along what seems like the edge of existence. The Devil, as usual, shows up in the details: throughout the years, a few have lost sight of the rock barrier's height, and slipped over it to their death. That said, a moderate amount of mindfulness--and perhaps a temperate amount of alcohol--effects an enticing and exhilarating Devil's Pool experience all should walk away from intact.

The Devil's Pool enjoys a seat in the classroom of "radical tourism", with visitors seeking out its breathtaking heights, precarious barriers, and delicious 104-degree waters for the thrill of a lifetime.

Victoria Falls Makeup

Upstream from the falls, the Zambezi runs over a level sheet of basalt through a shallow valley. Tree-covered islands dot its course to the falls, with two, Boaruka Island (also called Cataract Island) near the western bank, and Livingstone Island near the middle, large enough to draw open Victoria's curtain of water even at full flood. At less than full speed ahead, some of the smaller islets also divide the sheath into separate parallel streams, named Devil's Cataract, Main Falls, Rainbow Falls, and the Eastern Cataract.

Victoria Falls Tourism

Though Victoria Falls still has more Zimbabwean and Zambian visitors than foreign tourists, its status as the very first destination ever to be visited on the reality show The Amazing Race has garnered it much more international recognition over the past decade. When visiting the big game parks and taking safaris in Zimbabwe and Zambia, a jaunt to Devil's Pool--and nearby Victoria Falls tourist town Livingstone (Zimbabwe)--is a relatively easy order to fill.

Hemingways provides tours, transfers, and 4x4 hire for falls excursions. Broader tours, inclusive of additional stops and excursions, are also available from Livingstone through companies such as Nomad African Travel.

Both Zimbabwe and Zambia permit tourists to make day trips from each side of the border, with visas obtainable at border posts. Costs run between $20 and $50.

Surrounding the falls are a few additional highlights of the area, including the Mukuni Victoria Falls Craft Village, where peddlers sell everything from intricate animal carvings in green malachite to tribal masks, walking sticks, and jewelry. Many vendors are willing both to sell and trade for their wares, so carrying foreign T-shirts, batteries, shoes, or other hard-to-come-by commodities in Africa will serve you well.

Also nearby is the Mosi O Tunya National Park, situated along the Zambezi for about 7-1/2 miles upriver. The park is home to several species of antelope, zebras, giraffes, and white rhinos--the latter the only white rhinos still found in Zambia due to rampant poaching. If a rhino sighting in Mosi O Tunya is on your must-do list, be sure to plan in advance, as only two groups of 8 people are permitted to track them by foot each day. Others may drive around the park for spectacular views and photos of the animals, most of whom are comfortable enough in their predator-free environment to meander within close range of human visitors.

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