Somewhere along the mighty Zambezi river is believed to live a river god Nyaminyami. The Tonga and the Lozi people who inhabit southern Zambia and northern Zimbabwe have tales of how the mighty powers of Nyaminyami have influenced their lives. Myth has it that in times of drought Nyaminyami would expose parts of himself to the people who would cut pieces of meat from him. The word “nyama” is vernacular for meat and it is believed to be where the name Nyaminyami came from.
Nyaminyami has a mermaid-like wife Kitapo who it is believed was separated from him by the construction of the mighty Kariba dam in 1956. Nyaminyami was angered so bad by this disrespect that in 1957 he summoned all his powers, caused an unprecedented cyclone which dumped millions of gallons of water into the mighty river. The dam wall collapsed.
These are some of the mythical stories that are told of river gods that live in one of the scenic rivers of the world – The Mighty Zambezi River.
The trail of beauty and lush vegetation
Up on the North West end of the beautiful country of Zambia near Ikelenge rises a beast that meanders through six countries bringing with it life, food and beauty that is unimaginable.
The river flows out of Zambia into Angola before reentering Zambia again near Chavuma. The river becomes a border between Zambia and Namibia along the Caprivi. Flowing eastwards to a mouthful confluence with the rich Chobe River near Kazungula where Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia meet. This is where the fun begins!
Zambezi National Park
This plush of green runs from the tip of Zimbabwe massaging the banks of the mighty Zambezi for about 50 kilometers before terminating into the thunderous roar of the magnificent Victorial Falls. Beautiful Mopani and Mahogany trees line the banks with occasional alluvial soil patches interrupting them as if to add a punctuation mark.
This park boasts of four of the Big Five – lions, elephants, buffalo and occasional sightings of the leopards. There are picnic sites that visitors can use and also fishing sites along the banks of the river
The Majestic Victoria Falls
The world comes to a standstill at Victoria Falls. Mosi-oa-tunya ” The Smoke That Thunders” as it is known by the locals is a magnificent interjection on the Zambezi river which opens up into a massive 1,7 kilometers spectacle of falling water that forms a power curtain whose force lets out an ear-shattering noise that can be heard miles away. The 355 ft plunge releases a mist and sprays whose intersection with the sun produces a diurnal rainbow spectacle – a major attraction.
The splashes are responsible for the evergreen forests around the falls which melt on both side into Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia and Victoria Falls National Park in Zimbabwe.
The waterfalls are the biggest in the world. There is a modern airport with a number of international arrivals. Accommodation and tasty cuisines are available in both Victoria Falls town and in Livingstone town in Zambia.
Kariba is a humongous dam with a total surface area of 5 400 square kilometers making it the largest man-made reservoir in the entire world. Again its belly sits on the base of the mighty Zambezi providing a really spectacular sanctuary of both fish and wildlife.
Outdoor enthusiasts are usually attracted to Game viewing, Birdwatching and Fishing activities. Game viewing can be done by boat, vehicle and on foot. Some of the biggest tiger fish are found in this dam.
Accommodation is available in boat houses, safari lodges and in the town of Kariba. Around the dam you can visit the striking Matusadona hills
Mana Pools National Park
In the local Shona language mana means four, referring to the four large and permanent oxbow lakes that were formed when the Zambezi river burrowed a different course over time. These have produced an abundant water supply that has attracted some of the best wildlife in the region.
Mana pools park is highly isolated from the rest of the world with most of vegetation still pristine and untouched. Its limited accessibility makes it a prime target for game viewers.
Getting there generally involves getting on a light aircraft onto the dirty airstrip in the park. It is difficult to get there during the rainy season making safaris generally restricted to April until November.
Mozambique to Indian Ocean
Zambezi splits through Lower Zambezi National park on one side and Chewore Safari on the other side. At the confluence with Luangwa river a border for Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique forms. This is at the tail of Africa’s fourth largest man-made dam the Cahora Bassa.
Downstream into Mozambique the river loses of its luster as erratic flows of water due to the many upstream water reservoirs has greatly affected the ecosystem. Despite all this Zambezi river remains a great destination for adrenaline junkies, wildlife lovers, safari enthusiasts and even those who just want to experience a different world. Try it maybe one day you may come face to face with Nyaminyami.