Nature

on unnerving gorges

Creeping with awe to the verge, I peered down into a large rent which had been made from bank to bank of the broad Zambezi, and saw that a stream of a thousand yards broad leaped down a hundred feet and then became suddenly compressed into a space of fifteen to twenty yards.

-David Livingstone

Victoria Falls National Park, Zimbabwe

The muggy weather seems to sap the excitement away for a while, till one is finally able to hear the aqueous cacophony a little beyond the thin veil of thorny vegetation… a colonial ode in stone to the crusaders of the nineteenth century marks the beginning of the jagged arc that takes one across a lesson in depth…

’Tis amusing, seeing these immense congregations of water fuming and thundering in the most arid of land masses, one sans glaciers or the good tidings of the trade winds… where the sun has its song etched in every pore and the plumes of dust ironically feed tropical forests the size of their own barren expanse… geography is weird, and mixed with its fair share of geological eccentricities, becomes a rather enthralling proposition for the senses…

Victoria Falls National Park, Zimbabwe

It was the driest of facades of Victoria Falls that greeted us in a Zambian twilight when we first set sight about this geological œuvre d’art, the locals quick to point out that that was coming to an end, pointing to the stray fluffs of cloud dotting the horizon… but the plume of mist on the far end seemed to hold the crux of the matter… and it didn’t disappoint… 

Victoria Falls National Park, Zimbabwe

At times, it seems like the river has tripped over rather embarrassingly, and the treasures it holds suddenly spill over the gorge, clanking and cluttering… the Zambezi is one of the handful of large rivers that irrigate life upon the oldest and harshest of land masses… and somehow, all its pomp and show spread across miles is squeezed forcefully into the narrowest of gorges with the utter disdain that the rock has for the water that erodes it… a turnaround of sorts in the play of the elements… a bed of basalt spewed by a volcano slowly but steadily pecked at by sediments that the river cleaved and keeps cleaving, leaving chasms and abysses that draw deep breaths…

Victoria Falls National Park, Zimbabwe

More than a dozen viewing points dot the edge at the Victoria Falls National Park in Zimbabwe, all being traded frantically for selfies while the mist is still relenting… it becomes more of a raincoat clad affair when the falls are in full flow during the rains… the vista draped in curtains of water that can dictate terms to the horizon…

Victoria Falls National Park, Zimbabwe

But the falls are all about the mist… a mist so powerful that it breeds rainforests in its precincts… a mist that conjures up rainbows on a whim… a master of refractions trying their hand at translucence… a phenomenon that fogs and refreshes simultaneously… outcrops that are as fortified as they’re slithery… Mosi-oa-Tunya… the smoke that thunders… 

Victoria Falls National Park, Zimbabwe

It is an unusual feeling… a couple of seconds away from this microcosm of mist and the African sun is ever so ready to dehydrate… yet it remains strangely magnetic, this game of contradictions on a sunny afternoon…

musing and sauntering along Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe…

Author: Parth Joshi

Allured by the outdoors, the author is made up in parts of that quintessential lost soul wreathing under the pangs of biophilia in a desk job, a wannabe elegist mostly ending up in dungeons of poetasters and an optimist waiting for the senility of the modern world to fade away while sampling shoots and leaves. In saner times, he has a keen interest in areas pertaining to tourism, history, agriculture and climate change, especially with respect to historical interpretations, emerging technologies and future livelihoods. An avid trekker, runner, cyclist, birder and photographer, he is more often than not found gloating over anything hinterland, on foot or over computer monitors, and fantasizing solutions that can foster inclusive growth and sustainable livelihoods for communities at the grassroots.

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