from THOKOZILE DUBE in Victoria Falls
VICTORIA FALLS – DOMESTIC tourists increasingly attracted to the majestic Zambezi River after rising water levels are making up for the lowering number of international travelers to the region in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The tourists are drawn from the six countries covered by the 2 574 kilometre-long river, namely Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“Seeing the Victoria Falls bursting with water, while at the same time watching the smoke that thunders form rainbow from the sky always brings joy to us indigenous VaTonga people,” said Thembeka Chuma from Binga, Zimbabwe.
The Victoria Falls is the main tourist attraction in the Zambezi, the longest east-flowing river in Africa and the largest pouring into the Indian Ocean.
Mogakolodi Ditsele from Botswana, who visited with friends from their Molepolole hometown, said it was her first time at Victoria Falls.
It has proven to be love at first sight.
“I have always heard about Victoria Falls’ popularity but at last, I have seen this natural wonder by my eyes. This is a heaven on earth,” said Ditsele, charmed by the world’s largest sheet of falling water, which stands as one of the seven natural wonders of the planet.
Other visitors participated in the adrenaline-rushing 111-metre bungee jump, one of the highest leaps in the world, at the Victoria Falls Bridge linking Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Other activities included white-water rafting, helicopter flights, river cruises, houseboat, fishing, swimming and viewing of semi-aquatic and aquatic reptiles along the Zambezi river.
While a majority of the tourists were from the above-mentioned countries, there were other sightseers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, mainly from Lesotho, Namibia, Tanzania and South Africa.
Statistics released by the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) – which oversees water levels on the Zambezi and the Kariba Dam – indicate that the flow in the Zambezi River at Chavuma in the northwestern Zambia shot up by 73 cubic metres per second earlier this month, showing intense run-off on the Zambezi headwaters.
Kariba Dam, the largest man-made reservoir in the world, and its imposing bridge are other world-famous attractions along the Zambezi.
“Throughout the first week of February, the Zambezi River flow at Victoria Falls has continued to rise quite steadily above last year’s flows during the same period by 25 percent,” ZRA stated in a statement.
Recently, white-water rafting activities on the Zambezi had to be moved further downstream due to increased water levels on the mighty river.
The water levels of the Zambezi normally peak between March and August, owing to rainfall on the upper stretches of the river.
Travel restrictions imposed by authorities, following the outbreak of the COVID-19, have seen a decrease in international tourists to the Zambezi region.
The outbreak has claimed 6 500 lives worldwide since it was first reported in China at the end of 2019.
– CAJ News