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Victoria Falls thunders

by Staff reporter
01 Apr 2020 at 07:30hrs | Views
THE thunderous sound of the mighty Victoria Falls is back as the Zambezi River's water levels have significantly risen, giving hope of recovery in the tourism sector once the Covid-19 threat has been alleviated.

Authorities have said as of last Friday, water levels in the Zambezi River in Chavuma, Zambia, have gone up 523 percent compared to the same period last year, thereby increasing flows to the Falls.

The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) yesterday said water levels were trending above the long-term average, and the highest in 20 years.

Victoria Falls residents and players in the tourism industry are excited that the deafening sound of heavy volumes of water falling 107 metres down the gorge can be heard as far as the Victoria Falls International Airport which is 20km away.

The thundering sound is now a permanent phenomenon as it engulfs the quiet night in the suburbs while areas closer to town experience the rattling of windows. A news crew visited Victoria Falls National Park which houses the rainforest and waterfall yesterday and was welcomed by light showers at Points 1 and 2 near  the David Livingstone statue.

The showers, from where the natural wonder derives its name "The Smoke that Thunders", now characterise the attraction compared to a few months ago when people could tour without getting drenched.

The whole 1 737-metre wide gorge across the Devil's Pool is now covered with water while the showers get heavier from Point 3 with the magnificent rainbow that characterises the Falls now visible. When viewing from the Devil's Cataract, one can see the muddy water, a sign that levels are still rising.

The Main Falls, directly opposite Points 7 and 8 which face the Cataract Island where the king of the Lozi people who stayed in the area is believed to be buried, resemble heavy frontal rainfall as it is literally raining from the ground.

The news crew found it difficult to proceed beyond Point 9 as the showers which tourists enjoy, where they get drenched in rain, got heavier.

The water curtain is now wider with showers spreading as far as the Victoria Falls border and bridge and are expected to stretch to the central business district when the river reaches its peak in July. In a statement yesterday, ZRA chief executive officer Engineer Munyaradzi Munodawafa said water flows at Victoria Falls have significantly increased.

He said the Barotse Flood Plains in Zambia are now full and the flood waters have now begun to arrive and increase the flow at Victoria Falls.

"The Zambezi River flows monitored at Victoria Falls rose from 349 m3/s at the start of January 2020 to 3,890 m3/s recorded on 27th March 2020. Last year on the same date the recorded flow was 800 m3/s. The flows are now Fifty-four percent (54 percent) above the recorded long-term average flow of 2,522 m3/s for this station," said Eng Munodawafa.

He said the water allocated by ZRA for power generation has been maintained for the remainder of the 2020 period but the authority will continue to monitor the hydrological situation in the Kariba Catchment and water levels at Kariba Dam and keep the public accordingly informed.

Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) head of corporate affairs Mr Godfrey Koti said the increased water inflows in Victoria Falls, dismiss naysayers who were declaring that the magnificent Victoria Falls was drying up.

"People will appreciate that when we did a campaign about Victoria Falls not being dry, we knew what we were talking about. However, we are saying to the world we are closed for now because we have a major fight against this virus but when the world opens its doors to travel and tourism again, Zimbabwe has to be the place to be. People have to come and see Zimbabwe at its best. Right now, it's at its peak compared to the last 10 years," said Mr Koti.

Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe Victoria Falls chapter chairperson Arnald Musonza said the resort town would be a place to be after Covid-19 is contained. "The Falls are roaring at a time when we have a lockdown and that gives hope that like the Phoenix, we will rise from this situation. Nature has a way to make us reflect and introspect what is important.

"I implore the whole world that as we grieve and mourn our losses, God has given us this Natural Wonder with its therapeutic effect on our souls and I call on the whole world to look beyond the current challenges and plan their trip to see the Victoria Falls," said Mr Musonza.

Zimparks spokesperson Tinashe Farawo said: "As we have always said that we don't comment about water levels on the Zambezi as ours is to manage the heritage sites but this is our prime tourism destination and we take pride in that place. With the current developments where the falls are roaring, we are sure that once the coronavirus is over people will start coming again.

"It's now up to those charged with marketing the country like ZTA to use this facility to relaunch our tourism once this period is over."

Source - chronicle