It is hardly surprising that Victoria Falls has long been associated with mysticism and transcendence. David Livingstone recorded in his diary in 1865 that the ancient Batoka chiefs used Kazeruka and Boaruka Islands on the lip of the Falls as sacred places of worship.
“It is no wonder that under the cloudy columns, and near the brilliant rainbows, with the ceaseless roar of the cataract, with the perpetual flow, as if pouring forth from the hand of the Almighty, their souls should be filled with reverential awe,” he wrote. Even the most hardened men have been moved. The hunter Frederick Courtney Selous was awestruck, describing the Victoria Falls in 1881 as “the most transcendentally beautiful natural phenomena on this side of Paradise”.
The intensity of human response to the Victoria Falls is rooted mainly in their sheer scale. One is confronted by one’s own mortality. Death, after all, is a mere step away. Interestingly, very few people have decided to end their lives by leaping into the gorge.