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On the edge: Devil’s Pool isn’t for faint of heart

BBC host jumps into relatively safe pool with hidden barrier that allows him to swim to the edge of Victoria Falls without going over

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Photo of Victoria Falls by Charles Haynes/Flickr

The host of a BBC special exploring the continent of Africa did what appeared to be something dangerous and reckless when checking out Victoria Falls. He jumped into a pool above the 328-foot waterfall and swam right up to its edge. Professor Iain Stewart declared, “The ultimate way of experiencing the falls involves getting your feet wet,” and then jumped in fully clothed. Watch his daring swim:

“This is the way to see Victoria Falls,” Stewart said. “Oh my God.”

What he jumped into was something called Devil’s Pool, located near the edge of the falls on Livingstone Island on the Zambian side of the Zambezi River. There, when the river flow is at a certain level, generally between September and December, a rock barrier forms at the edge of the waterfall and an eddy with minimal current is created.

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At the edge of Devil’s Pool. Photo from Charles Haynes/Flickr.

The fact you can’t see the rock barrier makes it appear more terrifying than it is.

A U.K. travel writer, who jumped into the pool above the waterfall, once wrote about the experience: “The current takes hold immediately, carrying me towards the edge. But before I can be dragged to a watery grave, I’m stopped by a natural rock wall just beneath the surface. As well as saving my life it allows me to peer over the edge and down into a deafening explosion of rainbow-colored spray. A truly incredible sight.”

The view is remarkable, as you can see in the BBC “Rise of the Continents” video clip above. But it’s not totally risk-free. Reportedly, there have been occasional deaths when people have slipped over the rock barrier, so there is definitely a fear factor.

Just the photos look scary, photos that at first glance bring to mind Photoshop.

Photos of swimmers precariously perched at the edge of the waterfall looked so hazardous that fact-check organization Snopes even stepped up to give the photos and the story about the “radical tourist” industry at Devil’s Pool a “true” status.

The radical swim is definitely not for the faint of heart, or those with acrophobia.

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Photo by Rob McDonald/Wikimedia Commons

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Photos directly above and below by Sarah Depper/Flickr

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