One of the best known trees in Zimbabwe is a massive baobab, Adasonia digitata, that is found just off Zambezi Drive in Victoria Falls. With an enormous circumference of 18 metres, and standing 20 metres high, the tree is visited by thousands of visitors.
Photo: “Shongwe” The Rich Hertiage of Livingstone and Victoria Falls by Rob Burrett & Clare Mateke
Old photographs of the Big Tree show suprisingly little change in its overall shape and size – this could mean that the tree is no longer growing and reached maturity. It is suggested that based on its size, the tree could be around 1000 to 1,500 years old – simply incredible! The Big Tree is sometimes incorrectly called “Livingstone’s Tree”. David Livingstone, who discovered the Victoria Falls in 1855, did carve his name onto a Baobab tree on Garden island above the Falls. The Big Tree is protected by Museums and National Monuments of Zimbabwe who erected a fence around the tree to protect it from name-carvers vandalising it.
The tree lies in an area rich with history – local Mukuni tribes conducted religoius ancestral rituals by the Big Tree, and it was also a favourite spot of European travellers to camp there, in pre-colonial days. The well-known artist, Thomas Baines, included the Big Tree in his paintings of the Falls in 1863 – as seen below, in its smaller days. It is not the tree in the foreground, but the baobab on the other side of the Victoria Falls.
We recommend visiting the Big Tree with a qualified tour guide as there are wild animals in the area. An interesting option is visiting it on a segway tour – the Ilala Lodge Hotel team have tried and tested it! Please get in touch with our Tours Desk at Ilala Lodge Hotel, who can book this activity for you…in addition of course to one of our more relaxing crusies.