Zimbabwe’s biggest tourist attraction, Victoria Falls, is roaring again, but it will be a while before anyone can enjoy the thunderous sound of water splashing down its 107m gorge.
At over 1 700m wide, Victoria Falls – which lies on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia – is the largest waterfall in the world. Its spray can rise to a height of over 400m and can be seen from a distance of 50km when its at peak. But recently, reports were circulating that the waterfall was running dry.
This was after its water levels had slowed to a relative trickle as drought ravaged the southern African region.
Now, the Zambezi River’s water levels have risen again – significantly above the long-term average, and the highest in 20 years, according to the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA).
Africa my home. Victoria Falls back to life. Nature reigning supreme. “No one dare challenge when I say I am An African” Africa will survive. ?????????? pic.twitter.com/XtC6JfFt8S
But while the whole 1 737m-wide gorge is now covered with water, no one will get to enjoy the spectacle, as Zimbabwe is under total lockdown and travel restrictions that were introduced to combat the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
After videos of the roaring waters started circulating on social media, a senior official in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government was quick to warn that no one was allowed into the world heritage site.
“The Victoria Falls gates have been closed in line with #LockdownZim. The locals who were visiting were also observed not to be maintaining #SocialDistancing,” tweeted secretary for Information and Publicity Nick Mangwana.
— Nick Mangwana (@nickmangwana) March 31, 2020
The same measures have also been taken from the Zambian side, with National Heritage and Conservation Commission Regional Director Oliver Kandyata giving a directive on Wednesday that the Victoria Falls should be closed indefinitely with immediate effect.
In a letter addressed to the Livingstone Tourism Association (LTA), Kandyata said the decision to close the site had been “necessitated by the issue of the Covid-19 so that the public strictly adheres to the Ministry of Health guidelines with regards to the control of the disease”.