It is a mighty river. It is a wonder. It is spectacular and makes the natural beauty of Africa alluring. The Zambezi River supports a thriving eco-system and it is a major booster to many economies that it acts as a backbone to. Below are some of the fascinating facts about the mighty Zambezi River:
1. The fourth longest river in Africa
Coming after the Nile, Congo and Niger rivers, the Zambezi is the fourth longest river in Africa. It gas a length of approximately 2 700 kilometres and a total catchment area basically covering 1 390 000km². The source of the river is believed to be in a black marsh in the renowned Miombo mountains. It ends in a delta in the Indian Ocean.
2. It flows through six countries
In meandering its way to the Indian Ocean, the Zambezi River flows through a grand total of six countries. These include Zambia, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. It is much abundant in Zambia and least in Botswana. Fascinatingly, the river forms the borders of Zambia and Namibia, Zambia and Botswana, and Zambia and Zimbabwe. The hydroelectric plant at Kariba serves both Zambia and Zimbabwe while the one at Caborra Bassa serves Mozambique and South Africa.
3. It is home to the Victoria Falls
One of the seven wonders of the world and a World Heritage Site, the famous Victoria Falls are found in the Zambezi River. The Victoria Falls is a hive of major tourist activities that include white-water rafting, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, bungee jumping, and many other activities.
4. It has surprisingly few bridges
With its massive length, the Zambezi River has few bridges. Notable crossings include the Otto Beit Bridge at Chirundu in Zimbabwe, the historic Victoria Falls Bridge, the Katima Mulilo Bridge between Namibia and Sesheke in Zambia, and the Tete Suspension Bridge in Mozambique.
5. The River of Life
The Zambezi is a hub of activity to the communities that live along its banks. They refer it as “the river of life” because of the instrumental role it plays in their lives. They use the river for domestic chores, farming and also fishing activities. Eseentially, it is a giver of life. Without it, life would cease to hold any meaning.
6. The longest east flowing river in Africa
Starting on the north-western side of Zambia and ending in the eastern side in the Indian Ocean, the Zambezi river is thus the longest east-flowing river.
7. Protected by the Nyami Nyami
Described as having the head of a fish and the body of a snake, the Nyami Nyami is the guardian and God of the Zambezi River Valley, and one of the most important deities of the Tsonga people. the Nyami Nyami and his wife are said to the God and Goddess of the underworld and they reside in the Kariba gorge.During the floods that took place when the dam wall was being built, the people attributed the disaster to the wrath of the Nyami Nyami.
8. It contains Grade V and VI rapids
The Zambezi River is home to arguably the world’s best and most thrilling one-day white water rafting. Just below the Victoria Falls, 24 fearsome rapids have been formed in a stretch of river that winds its ways through the Batoka Gorge. The rapid range from Grade III to Grade V – the highest commercial grading possible. Battle your way through rapids such as The Devil’s Toilet Bowl, The Gnashing Jaws of Death, Morning Glory, Oblivion, and The Ugly Stepsisters.
9. Home to the Bull shark
The river is well-known for its Bull sharks that swim upstream from the Indian Ocean to the Zambezi river and are commonly referred to as the “Zambezi sharks.” It is a spectacular view for both the locals and tourists since sharks are associated with oceans and hardly with rivers.
10. Used to flow through the Makgadikgadi pans
Now the largest salt pans in Africa, Over two million years ago, the Upper Zambezi used to flow through the Makgadikgadi pans in Botswana. However, as a result of tectonic uplift, a vast lake was formed, and the river shifted eastwards.
Header image credit - African Curators