Discovering Victoria Falls

Travel Destinations — By on March 23, 2007 at 12:45 pm

Michael Joseph Gross loves waterfalls. So when he heard that a group was planning a short hiking expedition to Victoria Falls in honor of the 150th anniversary of its discovery by the Scottish explorer David Livingstone, he had to go. Later, he wrote about his experiences on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border in this travel article.

On the third day, we reached the falls.

“Creeping with awe to the verge,” Livingstone had looked down into the gorge, and when I left the group to do the same, all the homework I had done drained out of me. Knees burning on black basalt, one hand grabbing a clump of dead grass, the other clutching my grimy Tilley hat, I pressed my head over Livingstone Island’s edge.

I laughed because, I think, the falls seemed improbable, even absurd. There is a river – with rocks and boats and fishermen – plain, clear, slow-moving water – and then there is a crazed, frothing, broken, foaming force, gliding slowly through the misty air.

At this moment, it wasn’t difficult to imagine why, 150 years ago, Victoria Falls was the only sight that drove Livingstone to the sheer juvenile exuberance of carving his initials into a tree.

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