Livingstone - Tour day 7 - Whitewater rafting down the Zambezi!
Livingstone Travel Blog› entry 10 of 25 › view all entries
It was a rare treat for us to know that we were going to sleep in the same place two nights in a row, and so didnâ€™t need to pack up our tent for once! We had decided as a group to do some white water rafting down the Zambezi today (thereâ€™s a phrase you donâ€™t get to say every day!) and after debating for a while whether to go for the half day or full day, we elected to go for a full day's worth. The other option I had pondered was the bungee jump from the bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe which looked just spectacular as we went under it, however rafting was well and truly worth a full day!
Brekky was provided by the rafting people at the Waterfront campsite, and was absolutely delicious. While chowing down we were amused by the indemnity form they provide which indicates that perhaps we should have our legal rep review it (sadly we didnâ€™t bring our legal rep with us to Zambia J)
A safety demo was then led by Simba (with very cool dreadlocks) and was entertainment in itself.
If the white-water rafting didn't seem imposing enough already just looking at the rapids, they then give the rapids nice, inviting names like "The Devil's Toilet Bowl" and "The Gnashing Jaws of Death" which just drops your confidence that little bit further :)
We had perfect numbers on the tour to fill our raft, and were very happy that Bennie could come along with us after the group lobbied on his behalf back at camp (I think usually if guides want to come they have to pay for their own spot, but we weren't having any of that!).
Fortunately Bennie had managed to acquire us the cool guide that led the safety demo, Simba, and he most definitely knew what he was doing. All day we were watching rafts flip and get caught up in rapids as we powered through on a perfect line. It was also very amusing how his dreadlocks stuck out the holes in the side of his helmet J
Now that's not to say it was easy :) We started out with a 10 minute lesson on how to paddle, which seemed a little disproportionate to what would be needed looking at the class 4 and 5 rapids ahead (that's basically as hard as rapids get we're told...and believe after going through them!) Essentially we were just learning how to co-ordinate our movements for â€˜forwardâ€™, â€˜backwardâ€™, â€˜leftâ€™, â€˜rightâ€™ and, of course, â€˜get downâ€™!
It was actually the first rapid of the day that caused us the most trouble, for this one you have to go across it, rather than with it, and our group struggled to get the right line.
We then proceeded to lose Bennie and Claire briefly as well, so that then left only 4 of us to get through!! Luckily we made itâ€¦justâ€¦and recovered Maddie and Pete from someone elseâ€™s boat, they described it being quite scary while they were under the boat/water, Pete lost his sunglasses to the Zambeziâ€¦I wonder how many other glasses are in there! During the that first rapid, Laura had dug herself in to the boat so tightly she had very sore bruises on her leg.
After that our little raft did pretty well, managing to not flip all day! Laura and I even managed to stay dry which we consider to be an impressive achievement with our distinct lack of rafting experience :) Apparently the guide usually purposely flips everyone at some point in the day, but on the rapid he was going to do it, the safety boat went over first! Nick and Claire both toppled out at various stages, with Nick going on what was called a â€˜freebieâ€™ rapid i.
Simba spun us stories in the calm times as well, and seemed to have an obsession with Japanese tourists. He described how there was a group with 4 Japanese and 2 Australians and Simba had managed to get the Japanese to understand that they should just do everything the Australians do. Unfortunately when the two Aussies toppled in to the water, all the Japanese jumped too! Who knows if itâ€™s true, but itâ€™s funny J
There was some confusion as past a big nyami-nyami symbol with all the souvenir vendors had insisted dated back to the stone age and was a symbol of good luck. Simba said it was painted on for a B-grade American movie J
At the end of the river all the tourists are loaded in to a cable car to go back up the slope.
It was an incredible day, at the end of which your arms are just dead to the world! The beers provided for the jeep-ride home were very much appreciated, we just relaxed and watched the small villages pass by (after a brief stop to pick up Lauraâ€™s hat!) We highly recommend this to anyone, we did the rafting with "Saf Par" tours which I would highly recommend, very professional rafting. If you can try to get Simba, he's an excellent rafting guide, is very entertaining as you go down the river and has cool hair to boot :)