My Zambezi Valley
If the average person was asked about the Zambezi Valley, how many would actually have anything to say? From all the places I have been in the world, the Zambezi Valley stands out most in my mind. The mighty Zambezi River forms the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia as they lie on the maps in our libraries. Few people have been graced the opportunity to be in the presence of this majestic silver python as it carves away at the crust of our earth. There is no better way to experience this natural wonder than by organizing an expedition and venturing into the unknown wilderness of the “Dark Continent” for memories that will last you a lifetime. Unfortunately these days you have to do it through a Safari company that will charge you an arm and a leg for a week long tour, only skimming the surface and not taking you into the darkest of Africa of which you have read in so many adventure novels. Traveling is a very stimulating hobby, but Africa is part of me.
Darkness overcame all as Mother Earth turned her back on the center of our solar system. In the heart of Africa everything is sleeping, or so you are meant to think. The ruler of that kingdom is patrolling his territory in absolute silence. His bushy black mane casts a shadow in the pale moonlight. Eyes like those of an eagle penetrate the darkest shadows of the bush. The soft gray pads of his paws tread along the game path barely leaving any evidence of his presence. The great beast strides graciously along before disappearing into black night. He will soon find either a dense thicket or some tall Buffalo grass swaying back and forth on the rhythm of the early morning breeze where he can lay his giant body down and get some rest.
Stars begin to fade as a mysterious yellow glow takes their place in the East. The bush is coming to life. Birds are singing their songs of joy and hippos are snorting out of pure pleasure for a new day has come. This will be a day where the fight for survival
takes over like an uncontrollable urge, nevertheless, little is known as to who should be feared. Should it be the predators lurking around, wanting to fill their own stomachs, or will it be the natives searching for food in the land on which they have lived for thousands of years. Remember that this is done in an effort to rise above the ever present poverty. It is with a heavy heart that one is forced to judge who poaches for food and who poaches for pleasure and other earthly rewards. Taking life to feed your cubs, is just as important as taking life and feeding your starving children in a third world country where corruption determines survival.
I the distance a deafening roar overwhelms all the timid sounds produced by the creatures of the bush. As you approach this seemingly out of place low frequency humming sound, it transforms into a eardrum banging thunder. It makes you think the god of thunder has gone angry, very angry. Here the dry landscape is transformed into a tropical wonderland resembling that of an equatorial rain forest. Rising above this evergreen mass is what looks like a cloud of smoke the size of a small skyscraper. Upon further investigation one realizes that it is not smoke, but a very fine mist carried by the breeze to nourish the forest. Right there before you lies the almighty Victoria Falls. The mile wide river suddenly plunges down several hundred feet into a crack in the earth that it has been carving since the beginning of time. The Victoria Falls are remarkable. In many ways it defies description. So vast are these Falls that it is difficult to grasp their true grandeur and, for this reason, they are perhaps best see from the air – a privilege not granted to everyone.
Downstream from the great Victoria Falls is Lake Kariba. Kariba is a unique place with outstanding beauty. A great inland sea, nestled amongst the mountains, guarded by enormous reserves of game, and made beautiful and savage by sun and storm, earth and water, life and death. It is unforgettable on a dust-tasting, hazy-blue September day to watch the game treading its daily course to the edge of the lake?s vast waters, or in the
rainy season when the air is crystal clear and the images razor sharp, to watch the wet-skinned elephants slowly walking across the flood plains that are carpeted with a new green flush. Most of all, of Kariba you will remember the smells of Africa. The dust of the day, the moisture of the lake, and the smell of advancing rain. Or, perhaps ultimate experience, watching the red sun sliding into dusky blackness as the earth turns beneath it into night – the dead trees that fill the lake and the blue-black mountains that slope down to its wooded shore slowly merging with the blackness until they are gone.
The great Zambezi River that flows and plunges into the depths of the earth, only to emerge through a narrow canyon and then forming the spectacular Lake Kariba is one of the most breathtaking wonders in existence. It is only through great care that this treasure will be guarded for our children?s children to enjoy. Although not everybody will have the opportunity to visit this peace of heaven on earth, it is worth while to know that it exists. In all the years that I have spent time there, I cannot imagine the world without it.