- Victoria Falls
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- Travel and Tourism
- A Tour of the Falls
This is the best white-water rafting on the planet, guaranteed! Rafting the mighty rapids of the Zambezi usually runs between mid February and the end of June when the river runs high, with a variety of half and full day trips depending on the seasonal water level. This is a high volume, pool-drop river with little exposed rock in the rapids and in the pools below the rapids. Variations include river-boarding, multi-day rafting trips and the Jetboat (Zambia).
White Water Rafting on the Zambezi River below the Victoria Falls has been widely acclaimed as the best commercially operated white-water rafting in the world. Several companies offer various half-day to full day rafting options depending on the time of year. Note there is often a closed-season when rafting does not operate.
Below the Falls the full flow of the Zambezi is concentrated between the solid basalt walls of the Batoka Gorge. From wide and shallow, the river is transformed into a deep, narrow and powerful turbulent torrent, its energies released in a series of monster rapids separated by calm stretches.
The series of over twenty rapids, stretched over some 25 kilometres, are classed by international standards as between grades 3 and 5 (Grade 6 being too big to run commercially), although they vary greatly in their size and power during the year depending on the height of the river, which in turn is dependent on seasonal rains.
Rafting is split into high-water and low-water seasons, operating different stretches of the river. 'Low water' occurs when the river is at its lowest levels between July and mid-February. This is regarded as the best time to raft the Zambezi, the exposed rapids at their full force.
White-water rafting day trips are generally operated between rapids 1 and 19 covering a distance of some 25km. 'High water' follows after the rains in Angola and Zambia have swelled the river, from February to July. The river level rises, drowning the rapids of the upper section in whirlpools, and rafting shifts downstream, running from rapid 11 (the Overland Truck-eater) to 23, covering a distance of approximately 15km. At times of very high water the rafting stretch can shift to between rapids 15 and 24, and in extreme years the river closes for a short period in April and May when excessively high water levels can washout the rapids.
White Water Rafting on the Zambezi River has been classified by the British Canoe Union as Grade 5 – “ extremely difficult, long and violent rapids, steep gradients, big drops and pressure areas”.
The staggered rapids provide breaks between the adrenalin, giving you the opportunity to take breath and enjoy the beauty of the gorge, perhaps spotting a black eagle soaring high overhead. You'll also stop for a snack and refreshments along the way, and at the end of the day you get the opportunity to stretch your legs as you climb back out of the gorge (which deepens as you go downstream!), before refreshments and catching your transfer back to town.
Guests should be reasonably fit for this activity, as the walk into and out of the gorge is quite steep (there are stairs and steps down) as well as the white water rafting activity itself, and that's before you consider a bit of swimming - which isn't always optional!
Your safety whilst rafting is of course the highest priority of the guides, and rafts are supported by safety kayakers ready to assist swimmers, and literally millions of people have safely rafted the river in the twenty years that rafting has been commercially operated on the Zambezi.
During rafting season we often show the daily rafting film in the early evening at Shoestrings - a great opportunity to see what you are letting yourself in for if you are not too sure!
After the wildest one-day white-water run in the world, continue on down the Zambezi River on a two-day (two night) or five-day (four night) trips.
All equipment is taken on the rafts and camp is set on remote sandy beaches only accessible by raft. The river varies from long peaceful stretches to renowned and wild Grade 5 rapids such as 'Ghostrider', 'Chimamba' and the Moemba Falls.
Surf the waves and swim the rapids - for those who feel that the thrill of trying to stay in a raft is not enough for them, this is definitely the way to go. Running the rapids of the Zambezi River on a boogie-board and making the Grade 5 rapids work for you is an adventure not to be missed.
You'll need to be a good swimmer and confident in the water. Not all the rapids are runnable on a board so the day is combined with a rafting trip between the best surfing rapids.
The Zambezi is famous among surfers as the only river in the world with a perfect barrelling wave - a magical feature which appears for a short time each year.
Board, wetsuit, safety helmet and flippers provided. Low season only - the availability of this activity is dependent on river levels.
Yet another way for those thrill seekers to try and beat the mighty Zambezi. You'll need to have some kayaking experience, or travelling in tandem with someone with experience, and your skills will be tested in a local swimming pool so that the guides are happy with your ability before tackling the rapids.
All equipment provided. Low season only - the availability of this activity is dependent on river levels.
High-speeds, the sheer rock faces of the gorge whizzing past millimetres away from your face in a blur, this is an activity for those who love living life at a very fast pace. The high-powered Zambezi Jetboat specially imported from New Zealand offers you a unique way to run the rapids. Includes drive through a traditional village on your drive out to the gorge, and you get to enter and exit the gorge by cable-car, avoiding a laborious trek.
We're a 'one-stop-shop' offering you one contact point for your accommodation and activity bookings in Victoria Falls, and as an online operation we keep our costs as low as possible. But we still believe in quality customer service, high standards, and - most of all - tourism with a positive benefit.
Book through us and help increase our voice to lobby tourism operators to take their environmental responsibilities seriously - you get the same products, at the same prices, whilst directly supporting our local community and conservation good causes.