A Conversation for Wonderful Rivers
Trout Montague Started conversation May 21, 2003
Perhaps it's something to do with the fact that it shares a name with one of Zimbabwe's finest beverage products, but there's certainly something exotic in the name 'Zambezi' never failing to conjure up an image of croc-ridden Tarzan-esque African adventure. So it's not surprising that from where it rises in NW Zambia to its gargantuan Mocambiquan discharge into the Indian Ocean, that's pretty much what it has to offer.
From its Zambian source, at Mweni Lunga, near to the border with D.R. Congo, the river flows 2,574 km (1,544 miles) to the coast, paying visits to Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique along the way, draining in total some 1.57 million square kilometers of Africa. At one point, at the confluence with Botswana's Chobe River at Kazungula, four countries' borders (Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe) meet, tip to tip. And at every stop, the river is vibrant with the sights and sounds, colours and rhythms of Africa.
The jewel in the Zambezi crown is Victoria Falls, or 'Mosi-oa-Tunya' - 'the Smoke that Thunders', where plumes of white spray spew upwards towards the sky accompanying the awesome thunderous roar created by (at the height of the flood season) 546 million cubic metres of water plummeting each minute into the 100 metre deep gorge. Vic Falls is a World Heritage Site and quite understandably one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Immediately below the Falls is Batoka Gorge, where Teva-wearing raft-groupies can tackle what is internationally acclaimed as being the wildest whitewater rafting experience in the world. The 25km or so of rapids including, memorably, the infamous rapid no. 9, nicknamed "Commercial Suicide", are classified by the British Canoe Union as Grade 5 - "extremely difficult, long and violent rapids, steep gradients, big drops and pressure areas". "Commerical Suicide" itself is classified Grade 5/6, meaning that on a bad day, it's "Maximum difficulty, and involves serious risk to life".
Further downstream is the phenomenal Lake Kariba, at 42km wide and 290km long, an 'inland sea' created in 1959, when the Kariba Dam was completed at the head of the gorge. This is the site of the famed "Operation Noah" which set out, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, to rescue many of the thousands of animals stranded by the rising water. Fewer column inches it seems are given to the fifty thousand people, mostly of the Batonga tribe, who were displaced by the scheme.
Trout Montague Posted May 21, 2003
I'm going to need to add a bit about David Livingstone.
Trout Montague Posted Jun 17, 2003
Famous Zambezi People
Nyaminyami - River God
The name Kariba refers to a rock which once thrust out from the water at the entrance to the gorge, but which is now well-drowned below the water surface. This rock was regarded as the home of the great River god Nyaminyami, who caused anyone who ventured near to be sucked down for ever into the depths of the river.
Scottish missionary David Livingstone (1813-1873) made several epic journeys along the River Zambezi. He is generally accepted to have been the first European to have seen 'Mosi-oa-Tunya', naming the falls for his Queen and Empress, Posh.
Trout Montague Posted Jun 28, 2003
Grateful if the references to Malawi and Tanzania are removed. The Zabezi drains them, largely via the tributary Shire and Lake Malawi, but doesn't pass through them.
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