Memories of Bulawayo and the Falls

Visiting the Victoria Falls

Photo by Jonny Lew on


On strip roads. Bulawayo to Wankie. On “the Falls Road” Mom driving. My great uncle from New Zealand with us. Half way house. Dusty. The car not going well near Wankie as we pass a notice warning about elephants. Exciting. Arriving in Wankie. The car needs fixing. Staying at the hotel in Wankie and waiting for a part to come for the car. Car fixed. On to the Falls. Seeing the spray from the falls – “the smoke that thunders”. Trying unsuccessfully to catch a tiger fish from the bank in the Zambezi just above the falls. Rod way too small. Then, back on the strips. Going home. But first have to cross an angry swollen river using a low bridge with no side rails. Mom will not drive over the bridge. She asks a chap who turned up in a truck, to drive our car across. He does. Home at last. What an African adventure for a nine year old.

The Smoke the Thunders

“The Smoke that Thunders” is a translation of what the local people call the Victoria Falls.

As the mighty Zambezi River in central Africa hurls itself into the deep abyss there is indeed the sound of thunder.

And the smoke? That is the spray going high into the sky like real smoke from a long line of fires. This “smoke” can be seen from miles away.

The spray coming down creates a 24/7 rain forest where you get drenched without a rain coat.

One of the wonders of the world? Of course! But I am biased. This magnificent display of nature’s power is in the land where I was born: Southern Rhodesia (since renamed Zimbabwe).

I first saw the smoke and heard the thunder when I was 9 years old in 1953.

I will never forget seeing it for the first time.

What a wonderful experience.What a wonderful country.