- First Impressions of Victoria Falls-
David Livingstone's First Impression of Victoria Falls ( Mosi-oa- Tunya )
To my mind the Victoria Falls of the Zambesi are one of the most imposing
phenomena of the world Let the reader then imagine himself to have taken a position upon a spot facing a rugged dark brown rocky wall about 200 yards away, rising 400 feet above its base, which is out of sight. Over the top of this are dashing the waters of the Zambesi. About 100 yards from the western bank he sees several islands adorned with tropical vegetation in rich abundance; further on towards the eastern shore and close to the edge of the abyss his eye will light upon nearly thirty bare brown crags that divide the rushing stream into as many different channels. 
The majesty of the Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe To the left again, between the bright green islands and the western shore, he will observe that the great wall of rock is considerably lower, allowing a ponderous volume of water to rush impetuously as it were into a corner, whence it is precipitated in a broad sheet into the gulf below; beyond this and the next cascade he will see another pordon of the surface of the rock, and as he carries his eye along he will be struck with admiration at the jutting peaks that stand out in vivid contrast to the angry foam that seethes between them.
The countless jets and streams assume all colours and all forms; some are bright and gleaming, some dark and sombre; but as they plunge impetuously into the depth below they make up a spectacle that cannot fail to excite a sensation of mingled astonishment and delight. . . . Nor does the magnificence of the view end with the prospect of the giant waterfall itself. Let us raise our eyes towards the blue horizon; another glorious spectacle awaits us. Stretching far away in the distance are the numerous islands with which the river-bed is studded, the gorgeous verdure of their fan-palms and saro-palms standing out in striking contrast to the subdued azure of the hills behind. All around them, furnishing a deep blue bordering, lies the expanse of the mighty stream that moves so placidly and silently that at first it might seem to be without movement at all; but gradually as it proceeds it acquires a sensible increase in velocity, till checked by the rocky ridge that impedes its flow, it gathers up its force to take its mighty plunge into the deep abyss. . . .
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Nor less striking is the effect when we turn towards the chasm or rocky trough that receives the rolling flood. The rock on which we stand is rich with varied vegetation. . . . In a large measure this peculiar vegetation owes its existence to the perpetual fall of spray from the cataract; from every separate cascade clouds of vapor incessantly ascend to such a height that they may be seen for fifty miles away; at one moment they are so dense that they completely block out the view of anything beyond; another moment and a gust of wind will waft them all aside, and leave nothing more than a thin transparent veil; as the density of this increases or diminishes, the islands that lie upon the farther side will seem alternately to recede or advance like visions in a fairy scene. . . .
The incessant roar that rises from the mighty trough below fills the air for miles around with a rolling as of thunder; . . . the seething waters before us crash against the crags; we find the ground beneath our feet tremble as though there were some convulsion in a subterranean cave be¬neath. . . no infernal crater in which the elements were all at strife could produce a more thrilling throb of nature! Truly it is a scene in which a man may well become aware of his own insignificance!
Source and copyright: HOLUB, E., Seven Years in South Africa, London, 1881.
Related documents:
virtual tour of Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe)
David Livingstone's first impression of the Victoria Falls
Chapman's first impression of the Victoria Falls
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