Victoria Falls is known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, “The Smoke that Thunders,” because of the great cloud of mist that rises when the Zambezi River cascades over the falls at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe.
We visited Victoria Falls at the beginning of October during the dry season, which usually lasts from May to October. During those months, the Zambezi River slows, and much of the falls does not have water cascading over it. While this could seem disappointing, it actually makes possible a wonderful visit to the falls.
If you visit Victoria Falls during the dry season, you have an opportunity to swim to the edge at Devil’s Pool. You can take a boat to Livingstone Island, and from there, you walk near the top of the falls before jumping into the Zambezi. Then, you swim — or more accurately you are pushed by the current — to the fall’s edge. Then, a natural rock wall stops you from going over the top of the falls.
There, you can sit at the top of the falls, watch water rush past you as it goes over, and see rainbows formed by the mist. It is an amazing experience that is well worth the time, effort, and expense.
After we finished our swim in Devil’s Pool and were safely back on land, we visited the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. A helpful guide took us on a walking tour of the falls, and because of the lower water level, we walked literally up to the edge. We stretched out on our bellies and looked over the top of the falls. Like swimming in Devil’s Pool, it took my breath away!
So often we seek superlatives: the biggest, the best, the tallest, the greatest, the most. On my trip to Victoria Falls, I was reminded that something can we wonderful — even better — when it is not the biggest, the greatest, or the most. Had I visited Victoria Falls during the rainy season, much more water would have rushed over the falls. The spray would have been taller, and the roar louder. But, I would have missed the chance to swim in Devil’s Pool and found my heart thumping in the midst of the Smoke that Thunders.