The Zambezi River, which Victoria Falls marks the half way point of, is one of the best whitewater rafting experiences in the world. Unfortunately for me, the best time to raft the river is during the dry season – September – November, depending on when the rains came.At this time of year, they just opened the river for the season in late June, so we were one of the first to hit the water. This rafting trip is not for the weak or the timid. They say that the Zambezi is one of the best rivers to raft, with fun rapid names like the “washing machine” and “terminator”.
Just getting to down to the river is feat in and of itself, with a straight down walk into the gorge. At this time of year, we started at rapid 14, which meant that the trail wasn’t the one that is used year road. It would not have met any safety standards. Basically you had to do squats the entire way down the gravely cliff-like path, close to what I would call rock climbing.
The water at this time of year was pretty high, which meant some massive waves, but not as impressive of rapids, per se. The cool part was that the river is very deep, and you could therefore easily swim several of the rapids while hanging on to the safety rope of the raft.
During the dry season, the rapids are so intense that there are several that are nearly impossible not to capsize. Our guide said that if you sent four to five boats through, you would be lucky if the lot didn’t come up swimming. Luckily there aren’t rocks as hazards, but the water is strong enough to suck you down for a bit.
During the dry season you can go for overnight trips. They sounded nice in ways, and not in other ways. There are fabulous white sand beaches along some sections of the bank, which according to our guide, can sleep up to 100 people. The rafting part sounds great, but I’d rather do it privately as it was at this time of year, seeing only one other boat at put in.
Along the way, we stopped off on the Zambia side of the river on a fabulous white sand beach. Country number 56, yahoo!