Photo Sphere story: The smoke that thunders

Posted on September 4th, 2014 in Spotlight on Parks by Administrator

As part of our blog series on African protected areas, we will bring you at least one new “Photo Sphere” story every week. Photo Spheres are 360º panoramic images (think Street View) that can be shared on Google Maps, or with the Views community. Through theStreet View partner programme, more and more remote places are making their way onto Google Street View. Where this is not (yet) the case, Photo Spheres allow the world an immersive view many of Africa’s protected areas.  You can see a selection of Photo Spheres taken in Africa’s protected areas on our interactive story map.

Although it is neither the highest, nor the widest, the Victoria Falls is the largest sheet of falling water in the world. Little wonder, then, that its local name, “Mosi-oa-Tunya” (also the name of the National park on the Zambian side of the border) means “the smoke that thunders”. This photo sphere was taken from one of the 16 spectacular viewpoints on the Zimbabwean side of the border, in Victoria Falls National Park. A mist of droplets from the falls creates a nearly permanent rainbow, which greets thousands of locals and international tourists every year.

Revenue from tourists (who also visit for adventure activities) provides a sustainable income for the parks and contributes substantially to the economies of the nearby towns of Victoria Falls and Livingstone, but the parks are not without threats. A few years ago, instability in Zimbabwe threatened the Falls’ tourism economy, and in the last decade or so wildlife crime has forced game reserves surrounding the parks to put up fences, which impedes the natural movement of mammals.

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