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Nature's Beauty

The Wondrous Victoria Falls: The Smoke That Thunders

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Victoria Falls was declared by UNESCO as the largest sheet of falling water on Earth. Over a breadth of 1,708 meters (5,604 feet), up to 500 million liters of water descend from a height between 61 and 98 meters (200 and 822 feet) over a time span of just one minute. The sheer force of the continuous flow of water acting upon the hard basalt rock over several million years has eroded eight distinct gorges which present spectacular formations.

Upstream, just preceding the falls, riverine islands are scattered across the expanse. There, a lulling of the quickening waters gives the illusion that calmness prevails almost right to the threshold of the precipitous drop. The Barotse, or Kalolo Lozi, once exclusively occupied the Zambezi floodplains and respectfully named the falls Mosi-au-Tunya, or “Smoke that Thunders,” due to the plume of misty rain created. This mist can be seen at a distance of about 50 kilometers (31 miles) during the wet season.

Long before the arrival of Europeans, the falls were a central part of spirituality for the First Nation people of Toka Leya. The surrounding rainforest landscape of Victoria Falls are also home to an array of protected flora and fauna species found within the boundaries of the 3,779-hectare Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia, the 2,340-hectare Victoria Falls National Park, and the 741-hectare riverine strip of the Zambezi National Park, both in Zimbabwe.

Despite the best efforts of park management throughout Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia and the Victoria Falls and Zambezi National Parks in Zimbabwe, the effects of ongoing climate change are having a noticeable impact. Recently, a persistent drought upstream brought Victoria Falls to an unrecognizable trickle in December of 2019, extinguishing the vital misty plume of water and dangerously threatening the existence of the usually lush and vibrant rainforest ecosystem. All information concerning the scientific evidence of climate change and its solution is in Supreme Master Ching Hai’s Book, “From Crisis to Peace.” Free for download at:

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