White Water Rafting Victoria Falls: the Mighty Zambezi
Running the white-water rapids on the Zambezi from Victoria Falls to Lake Kariba.
The Zambezi is a high volume river, which means that a massive quantity of water passes through the constricting gorge, particularly at high water times of year. This week-long descent from Victoria Falls to Lake Kariba can only be done in Sept and Oct each year.
Also check-out the dates of the full moon – nothing is more romantic than seeing the falls by the light of the silvery moon!
Transfer to the expedition base and check in. The remainder of the day is yours to relax or explore. The Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, is close by, so today is a good opportunity to go and see them. The 2km long waterfall drops 100 feet down into a narrow gorge creating some of the most exciting white water you can find. For your early evening entertainment we have organized a sunset cruise on the upper section of the Zambezi, a chance to watch the African sun set behind the ancient Baobab trees and a little wildlife spotting as hopefully we will get glimpses of elephants and buffalo on the banks and pods of hippos relaxing in the water. Later in the evening we will have a pre-departure meeting in order to give you a run-down of your next 8 days. Sleep tight, for the Mighty Zambezi awaits …
Not Included: Breakfast, lunch and supper.
Above: put-in at Morning Glory.
We meet for breakfast at the rather leisurely time of 9 am. With all valuables locked up safely in the hotel and all dry bags (which will be provided) packed for the days ahead, it is now time to put on your water wings and head to the base of the Falls.
The Batoka Gorge provides a magnificent backdrop for our comprehensive safety briefing before we don our high float life jackets and practice our paddling techniques in the warm waters of the river. We will run through all the necessary paddle strokes and explain what will happen if you suddenly
decide to “go for a swim”. If the water level allows, we’ll take you up to the “Boiling Pot”, right beneath Victoria Falls, where we’ll have lunch in the most amazing place in the world!
Our epic river journey begins with “Morning Glory”, a real eye opener, before one of the biggest commercially run rapids in the world, “Stairway to Heaven”. This is a day of unparalleled fun with rapids such as “Gulliver’s Travels” and “Midnight Diner” which features one of the biggest waves you will see on a river. This is expedition rafting at its best and consequently some rapids we are not able to run in a raft, but our kayakers will delight you as they take on the likes of “Commercial Suicide”, a great spot for photos. We will transfer the rafts around this rapid before heading on down to our fitting finale, “The Gnashing Jaws of Death”. A secluded, sandy beach is our camp for the night where your guides will create a feast upon which you can celebrate your first day on the river. It is now time to relax, watch the sun disappear behind the basalt cliffs and to enjoy our first night under the stars.
Included: All meals.
After a hearty breakfast, we load all our equipment into the rafts and the fun continues. Our morning’s entertainment begins with “Creamy White Buttocks” and “The Mother”. Our guides will explain how they got their names, if you don’t manage to work it out for yourselves! The highlight today is probably one of the most famous commercially run rapids and one of the most thrilling of rides, Number 18, also called “Oblivion”. It isn’t the first wave that gets you, nor the second, but the third rather HUGE crashing wave that normally has all the photographers poised, ready to capture your big moment. We strike camp on a gorgeous expanse of sand a little further downstream and prepare dinner whilst admiring the fish eagles gracefully soaring overhead. Dusk falls as we sip our G & T’s and look forward to the next day with, yes, can you believe it, even more outstanding white water.
Our first rapid, “Morning Shower” ensures we are awake with an invigorating burst of refreshing white water. The river begins to widen today but the rapids remain exciting; look out for “Open Season”! A huge adrenaline rush is a sure way to stimulate your appetites and help you polish off the fresh salads we have prepared for lunch. The afternoon includes “Chamamba” and an outstanding ride through “Upper Moemba”. We camp at another glorious beach for the night, within sight of the magnificent Lower Moemba Falls where we can sit back and enjoy the beauty of this majestic section of the river whilst sipping our sundowners and recounting the day’s events.
This morning we portage the rafts around the Lower Moemba Falls and drift downstream for an hour. We will pass the proposed site for the joint Zambia/Zimbabwe power project which threatens the entire section that we have been rafting down the previous three days – food for thought. At Chabango Falls (another of our expedition portages!) we will be restocked with ice and fresh meat and fruit. After the portage we re-launch the boats into the water and take on the amazing “Ghostrider”. A huge adrenaline rush, this is the longest of all the rapids on our journey. The river mellows out substantially from here and we entertain ourselves looking for the crocs sunning themselves on the beaches. We camp in the evening at a rapid called “Asleep at the Wheel”.
Layover Day! A magical 24 hours of African style relaxation on a huge, remote beach, where your biggest decision might be whether to have a second serving at lunch! Usually there are pancakes at the relaxed hour of 10 am and then it is time to do whatever you like. Whether it is a game of volleyball, reading your favourite book or trying to put your last few days into words with a letter home. The adjacent rapid also provides us with a safe pool of still water in which you can relax and cool off under the midday sun. You will be amazed at just how great it feels to have to do nothing!
Resuming our casual float, we pass the time viewing game often from quite close range, perfect for some superb photo opportunities. Baboon and mountain goats are often seen coming down to the water’s edge. And there is a vast array of birdlife in Zambia, rich in colour and song. With your guide doing most of the work with his oars, we can take time out to relax with a floating lunch – definitely a touch of the good life. We will pass by some African villages today, our first sights of civilisation since leaving the falls, and maybe stop off to see if they have any freshly caught fish we can purchase. Our camp this evening is along what is locally known as crocodile alley so we recommend not going down to the river after dark as some of these crocs measure up to 6 metres! We strongly discourage any attempts at crocodile wrestling no matter how many handbags they would make.
Included: All meals on Days 3 – 7
An early start and a gentle float downstream as the sun gently rises overhead. What a fantastic way to finish our river trip as we arrive at our take out point at the Matetsi River mouth. Ice cold drinks await us, and a scrumptious riverside lunch. After such a brilliant trip, there is no better way to finish than with a spectacular 40 minute helicopter flight back along the river and through the Batoka Gorge, getting a bird’s eye view of all the rapids you have just been down, before arriving at Taita Falcon Lodge on the Upper Zambezi River. It has been a while since you have had a shower: don’t be surprised if you don’t recognize each other – after 7 days of getting used to unshaven faces and unkempt hair it is quite a shock to see how well people scrub up! We will spend the night at this stunning lodge with its breathtaking views over the river and enjoy a celebratory night.
Included: All meals
Time to cruise around town and do that last minute retail therapy before boarding your flight back home…
Full name: Republic of Zambia
- Population: 10.4 million
- Area: 752,600 sq km
- People: 98% African, 1% Asian, 1% European
- Language: Bemba, English and approx 70 other indigenous languages
- Religion: 50-75% Christian, 50-75% indigenous beliefs, many follow both.
- Government: Republic
- Major industries: copper mining and processing, construction, textiles, fertilizers, foodstuffs and beverages
- Time Zone: GMT +2
- Electricity: 230V, 50Hz
Fitness and Safety
Safety is our foremost consideration at all times whether on or off the river. All our guides are chosen for their extensive international experience. They each have at least 10 years running rivers around the globe. All have first aid qualifications of the highest standard including at least one medic on each trip. And we carry an extensive First Aid kit and Satellite Telephone with us at all times. They are considered professionals in their field and dedicate their lives to sharing these wonderful river trips with others.
There are no special requirements for the Zambezi River, except a sense of adventure! The Zambezi is a large volume river and a huge amount of fun. We recommend that you exercise regularly: running, walking or swimming, at least a month or two before the trip, in order to maximize your fun on this amazing river. The minimum age for this trip is 16 years.
Did you know?
Northern Rhodesia gained independence in 1964 when it was renamed Zambia. In 1855 David Livingstone went down the Zambezi River and discovered Victoria Falls. Victoria Falls are 2km wide and the Zambezi River drops 100m into the gorge. It is considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Zambia has one of the highest diversities of birdlife in the world with over 743 species recorded to date. The national bird of Zambia is the Fish Eagle. The Staple dish in Zambia is a stiff porridge called nshima commonly made from maize or sorghum. You won’t get served this on your raft trip!