Thread Tools
Old 04-10-2013, 07:46 AM
Suspended
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 18,476
Has Anyone Ever Fallen Off Victoria Falls? (Devil's Pool)

Tourists hiking to Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe ) are invited to cool off by swimming in the so-called "Devil's Pool)-this is a rock pool that is right at the edge of the falls. Supposedly, it is quite safe, and there is a ledge of about 2 foot width, from the drop. The videos you see on YouTube show the people quite relaxed..but I don't know-has anyone been swept over the falls?
I doubt anyone wold survive this-it is quite a drop. (Several times worse than Niagara.
Old 04-10-2013, 07:49 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2001
Location: England
Posts: 57,231
According to the Wikipedia article, "Occasional deaths have been reported when people have slipped over the rock barrier"
Old 04-10-2013, 07:52 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: America's Wing
Posts: 27,595
It also is not safe when the waters are high. If you miscalculate, there could be a torrent going over those ledges and you could be swept over rather than stop.
Old 04-10-2013, 09:45 AM
Guest
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 197
* Nitpick - access to that pool is via Zambia, not Zimbabwe.

As far as I recall, there have been deaths from slipping on wet rocks from the Zimbabwean side.
Old 04-10-2013, 09:46 AM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Paris
Posts: 16,837
So, it's "quite safe", only "occasional deaths", assuming that you don't "miscalculate".

Hmm...writing off the Devil's pool from my "to do" list



Also.....there has been someone who was the first to say "It's really hot today. Don't you think that spot right over the falls would be a nice place to cool off?"
Old 04-10-2013, 11:10 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Suburbs of Detroit, MI
Posts: 9,859
Quote:
Originally Posted by clairobscur View Post
Also.....there has been someone who was the first to say "It's really hot today. Don't you think that spot right over the falls would be a nice place to cool off?"
Now that you mention it, I've always wondered about the mindset of the people who discover this sort of thing.

I figure, it takes a special combination of bravery, stupidity, and suicidal tendencies.
Old 04-10-2013, 12:50 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Portlandia
Posts: 39,304
Quote:
Originally Posted by Diceman View Post
Now that you mention it, I've always wondered about the mindset of the people who discover this sort of thing.

I figure, it takes a special combination of bravery, stupidity, and suicidal tendencies.
During the dry season, the falls can nearly cease to exist. A dip in the pool at that time of year is pretty safe. When the river is in full flood, different story.

As a side note, should anyone get the chance to visit Victoria Falls, do NOT pass up the opportunity; and take the sunset cruise on the Zambezi River. There is also rafting in the gorge, but I don't think there is any portion of it that is below a category four rapid.

Last edited by Chefguy; 04-10-2013 at 12:51 PM.
Old 04-10-2013, 02:14 PM
Guest
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Hampshire, England
Posts: 13,368
Quote:
Originally Posted by clairobscur View Post
So, it's "quite safe", only "occasional deaths", assuming that you don't "miscalculate".

Hmm...writing off the Devil's pool from my "to do" list



Also.....there has been someone who was the first to say "It's really hot today. Don't you think that spot right over the falls would be a nice place to cool off?"
Once you were in the pool it would be extremely hard to "slip" over the ledge in anything like a normal flow - you'd have to actively try to climb over it. Getting into it in the first place might be a different matter. Do people swim to it or get there by boat?

Even so, as a father, the second picture down on this page gives me the serious willies.

I visited Victoria Falls in 2001 and am slightly annoyed that I didn't know about that pool. I must have been stood right by it, but I don't think it had been "discovered" as a tourist attraction back then. Does anyone know when the first references to it appeared?


From the Zambian bank, you can stand right on the edge of the river, almost literally within touching distance of the precipice. The river above the falls is deceptively wide, shallow and peaceful. Just 50ft or so upstream of the falls I remember being able to dip my feet in a shallow sandy beach-like bit at the edge of the water, and in no way felt unsafe.

What did give me pause was the way the local kids would swim from that shore across to the little islands in the stream, showing off. Yes, the river is peaceful, but it is still pretty fast flowing, and the kids would strike out at an angle upstream so they'd be carried down and reach the island they were aiming at. I thought at the time that a miscalculation would be fatal, but perhaps the kids knew there was a ledge there and were only swimming above the "Devil's Pool"? Certainly if they did, they didn't go and sit in it.

Last edited by Colophon; 04-10-2013 at 02:17 PM.
Old 04-10-2013, 02:28 PM
Guest
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Hampshire, England
Posts: 13,368
Answering my own question (sort of).... from here:
Quote:
A boat picks you up from the Sun International Hotel and takes you to the island where they give you a brief tour, and then walk you over the rocks to the pool. You strip down to your bathing-suits, then jump into the cold water, and swim first upstream, then down in a path to reach the area where the Pool is. There is a safety line if someone should get caught in the current and taken towards the falls, but honestly this was not an issue as, besides the idea of jumping into the Zambezi being a bit scary, it is not difficult to fight the current here. You then one by one jump into the Devil's Pool and float towards the rock wall that acts as a barrier preventing you from going over.
Note the post under that one:
Quote:
Last September [i.e. 2009] one tourist slipped while in the devil's pools and his official tour guide (with a well known overland company) slipped over the falls trying to save the tourist. The tourist was saved and, sadly, the zim guide died.
This is not actually correct. A tour guide did die trying to rescue a tourist who fell in the river, but it was not at the Devil's Pool. See the update and comments here.

Last edited by Colophon; 04-10-2013 at 02:28 PM.
Old 04-10-2013, 04:43 PM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Hoboken
Posts: 1,211
I'd be curious how long that pool has been safe for that activity, and how long it is expected to be safe into the future. At some point that barrier wall is going to degrade and fall down.
Old 04-10-2013, 05:58 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: SF Bay Area, California
Posts: 12,785
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcgato View Post
At some point that barrier wall is going to degrade and fall down.
And the thing is you're never going to be sure exactly when that would be and it could break off suddenly and in a substantial way. Sure the odds are absurdly low it would happen when you are there and in the dry season. But I have got enough issue with sheer heights as it is - you'd have to put a gun on me to get me into that pool.
Old 04-10-2013, 11:44 PM
BANNED
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: NY USA
Posts: 7,635
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tamerlane View Post
And the thing is you're never going to be sure exactly when that would be and it could break off suddenly and in a substantial way. Sure the odds are absurdly low it would happen when you are there and in the dry season. But I have got enough issue with sheer heights as it is - you'd have to put a gun on me to get me into that pool.
I agree. I've always had a deep-seated fear of waterfalls. They're just so, I don't know, instant death right in front of you. Sort of like being in a railroad tunnel and seeing an oncoming train's light headed toward you, you see it coming and there's nothing you can do. I get the heeby-jeebies just watching those YouTube videos of people swimming in Victoria's Devil's Pool. Plus, rock is rock, it's not reinforced steel. I don't care if it's two feet thick, if that wall were ever to give way, and it could, everybody in the pool at the time would be instantly & unstoppably swept to their deaths. No thanks...
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:07 PM.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: [email protected]

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: [email protected].

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017
Best Topics: roomates.com review world publishing bible baby toga skinny legs male penguin pushing sardine ramen pokey jail twc guardian lifestyle poly tranquilizers for cats oil for sandwiches soames and irene how long does canned chicken noodle soup last how long do wasps live without food skunky smell in house what to do when you miss a vein does ibuprofen work for toothaches can i plug in a sata drive while the computer is on according to texas law are entitled to the full use of a lane french bread vs white bread kiss by the book at what point are celsius and fahrenheit the same difference between russian and ukrainian does mold die when it dries out chicken in a bisquit why are animals scared of humans