For those who enjoy an adrenaline rush, few things beat taking a swim in the Devil’s Pool. And despite it’s ominous name, the activity is extremely safe as long as you follow the instructions of your professional guide.
Devil’s Pool is located in the Zambezi River, on the edge of the Victoria Falls just a short swim from Livingstone Island.
Reached by a 5 minute motorboat ride from the Zambian side of the Falls, Livingstone Island is named after explorer Scottish explorer Dr David Livingstone. He was paddled in a dug out canoe through swift rapids towards the roar and rising cloud of mist suspended above a cliff over which the whole of the Zambezi River plunged. The Makololo paddlers skilfully landed him on what was then called ‘Goat Island’ right on the lip of the chasm. A few steps through the small rainforest and, on the 16th November 1855, he gazed upon one of the most spectacular sights in the world, which he named after his Queen as the Victoria Falls.
Today visitors are picked up in a twin engine boat with powerful motors and a skilled skipper re-traces Livingstone’s approach to the island to witness the very best view of the Falls there is. All visits to the island are during the ‘low water’ season, which usually begins in mid July and goes through to the end of January. High water visits are not possible as the island is continuously covered in the spray/downpour from the Falls.
When the river flow falls to a certain level, usually between September and December, a rock barrier forms an eddy with a minimal current, allowing adventurous swimmers to splash around in relative safety just centimeters from where the water cascades over the Falls.
It takes a rocky walk and a short swim in the Zambezi to reach the pool – then the fearless ones leap in and get pushed to the edge by the force of the river. The rock lip (known as the “Devil’s Armchair”) brings them to a halt as the waters of the Zambezi crash over the cliffs a few feet away. There are guides in attendance who are there to make sure you don’t go over the edge.
The view from the edge is totally exhilarating as you feel the force of the Zambezi flowing past you and crashing down over the precipice, a hundred meter drop.
During the high water period, over 500 million litres of water a minute cascade over the almost 2km wide falls, causing a deafening and spectacular explosion of spray which can be seen 50 kms away (this is why it is known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya or The Smoke that Thunders).
After the guides take your photograph, you swim back to the island for a well-earned breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea.
Take a look at this short YouTube clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldBBeJi6-Fs