Posted by: wildsidezambia | November 17, 2010

Rainbows and Moonbows over the Falls: mystery of the pot of gold solved?


Rainbows over the Falls are exceptionally bright in colour

Victoria Falls from the Zambian side produces the most dazzling rainbows, one of nature’s exquisite phenomenon’s that occur in the opposite direction of the sun when the spray catches the reflection of the sun’s rays.

It is also one of the rare places in the world where once a month a moonbow, or lunar rainbow, occurs around full moon. This unique event is visible the day before, the day of and the day after the full moon, when the light of the moon is refracted through the mists that rise up from the base of Victoria Falls. The park remains open until late for these three days to allow visitors in Livingstone to witness this amazing mystical happening. It is an awesome sight and only occurs in few places elsewhere in the world (the Cumberland Falls in Kentucky; in Durham, North Carolina and Waimea on Hawaii’s Kauai Island).

A rare phenomenon: a moonbow at Victoria Falls

Because of its sheer height (107m high) and the massive volume of water the moonbow over Vic Falls is undoubtedly the most spectacular. The moonbows are best seen in the clear skies and high water levels between February and August when the spray is at its highest.

Ever since the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC) wrote about the rainbow, countless painters, poets, singers and writers have been inspired by the colourful and peaceful display of the intense colours that make up a rainbow.

Rainbows feature in many legends around the world. They are an important part of the culture of the Leya tribe of Livingstone, even reflecting in their tribal name, the Bene Mukuni Royal Rainbow Dynasty.

And as the famous saying goes: ‘there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow’. But no-one ever found this pot of gold.

Veteran micro light pilot Heiko Held who has flown over 16800 passengers over the Falls, has the answer: “Mesmerised by the beauty and splendour, some start crying, others singing! But all discover a fascinating fact: the rainbow is actually round!”

But most of us will never give up looking for that pot of gold. Although it could be a bit challenging in the wild waters below the Falls…

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