Watch: striking drone footage shows Victoria Falls experiencing highest flow in a decade

Four times more water is currently flowing over one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World than in April last year

While there are currently no tourists around to appreciate the spectacle, the Victoria Falls are experiencing their highest flows in a decade.

To share the sight with the world, Zimbabwean hospitality operator Africa Albida Tourism has released drone footage of the falls, which attracts about a million visitors a year.

“At a time when the world is in trouble, the Zambezi River and the Victoria Falls display immense beauty, rugged power and a glorious snub to the current negatives,” says Ross Kennedy, chief executive of Africa Albida Tourism.

The Victoria Falls display immense beauty, rugged power and a glorious snub to the current negatives

Data from the Zambezi River Authority shows that four times more water is currently flowing over the world’s largest waterfall than there was this time last year. On April 20, 3,922 cubic metres per second was recorded, compared to 1,007 cubic metres per second on the same day in 2019.

Elizabeth Karonga, public relations and communications manager for the Zambezi River Authority, says the high water levels are the result of a significant increase in both rainfall and run-off in the catchment area upstream from Victoria Falls.

The Zambezi River normally experiences two peaks or floods, which are more evident in the upper catchment area, upstream from Victoria Falls, and depending on their magnitude, their effects are translated downstream,” Karonga says.

Dry cliffs are seen following a prolonged drought at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, December 4, 2019. Picture taken December 4, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
In contrast, this is the Victoria Falls in December 2019 after a prolonged period of drought. Reuters

Expected to peak at the end of May, the flows at the Victoria Falls, also known in the local Sotho language Mosi-oa-Tunya, or "the smoke that thunders", have not been this high since 2010, when they were slightly higher.

Flows also peaked in 2009 and 1978, but the highest ever recorded were in 1958, when they reached 9,436 cubic metres per second.

“It has been quite some time since anyone witnessed the majesty and intensity of this level of water flowing over the Victoria Falls, with the last period of such floods being ten years ago," says Kennedy.

"What a sad and disappointing irony it is, that at this time that one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World is at its absolute finest, the world is in lockdown and very few, if any, will get to witness or experience this iconic destination in all its splendour.

"But, of course, nature being what it is, Victoria Falls will flood again and will be there to impress, enthral and excite many millions of tourists in the decades ahead. In the meantime, Africa Albida Tourism is pleased to share this magnificence with viewers across the world, via our drone footage.”

Updated: April 23, 2020 11:58 AM

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