What is the first thing that pops into your head when you think about Zimbabwe? A certain notorious nonagenarian and if you are a resident of Zimbabwe, power cuts aside,
Victoria Falls in all her beauty is often pretty high up the list.
Victoria Falls is an icon entwined with the image of Zimbabwe and for good reason. If you are looking for an example of the force of nature at its best, you will not find a better representation of gravity and volume on the African continent. In the right season, the water falls are MAGNIFICENT! Once you have walked the walk and taken the obligatory selfie with the famous falls, travellers tend to want to do stuff. So, onward to the associated activities. What is there to do in Victoria Falls for those who are young at heart and strong of constitution? Jump off the bridge and white water raft obviously. I tend to have a rather strong aversion to heights and although I love jumping off stuff just to prove to myself that I can, a paddle down the awesome Zambezi will always be the trump card for me. Well kids, put your helmets on, zip up your life-jackets, make sure you apply plenty of sun screen and paddle the shit out of the gorge. If the Batoka Gorge Hydroelectric Station is finally built as the governments both sides of the borders have agreed it will, then bye-bye rapids. The famous swells of white water rapids and their resulting screams of thrill seekers bobbing on the frothy waters will be a mere echo of bygone times. It simply will not be the same. The damming of the Zambezi 47km downstream of the Falls will cause the waters to rise and the rapids to lose their world class status. It will be like taking an idle, gentle drift on the Serpentine in Hyde Park, London; boring.
The proposed increase in water volume will likely see the loss of habitat for numerous bird species and wildlife found in the gorges. My father was an avid birder. He was particularly interested in birds of prey and would travel all over Zimbabwe and the African continent in pursuit of sightings. He would regularly take trips to Victoria Falls, to look for the endangered Taita Falcon that nest in the gorges below the Falls. Admittedly, the birds are not all that fond of the resulting noise from the paddling and sightseeing activities that go on on the river; however, with the damming of the Zambezi, the Taita Falcons (of which there is thought to be between 20-50 pairs left in Zimbabwe) may disappear altogether. That would be terribly sad.
For the sake of future thrill seekers, the families that depend on the gorge for income and all those creatures that call the gorges home, I hope we can find a better solution to power supply. If you would like to add your voice against the building of the Batoka Gorge Hydroelectric Station then you can e-mail Environmental Resource Management on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Imagine. Create. Explore.
*Some pictures from the first time I ever kayaked the gorge. It was way back in 2004, I was only 14 years old and luckily for me I had two very experienced kayakers Ross O’Donoghue and the late Graeme Anderson to show me the ropes. Two absolute legends!