Day 3: On the Zambezi river

Livingstone Travel Blog

 › entry 5 of 34 › view all entries
at the start of the rafting trip
We got up at a quarter past six to pack our bags and check out. Today we were going to go rafting on the Zambezi river, which started at the Waterfront lodge. This was very convenient for us, as we would be staying the night there as well, so this meant we could check out of Fawlty Towers and take our bags along on the bus to the rafting.

We were welcomed with a breakfast after which a safety briefing was given. The Zambezi is a grade V river, which is definitely not for the faint-hearted. The briefing contained all kinds of worrying details like falling overboard and getting smashed against the rocks, rescuing by helicopters, hospitals and liability waivers.

In total seven people of our future tour group would be doing the rafting, so we decided to go on one boat together in order to get to know each other a little

Paul, Neil and Sally, from the UK, Paola from Italy (but living in the UK), Rudy from Belgium and Robbel and me from Holland.
Rafting the Zambezi river
A very international crew as our guide Vincent put it.

The trip started at the "boiling pot", which is a huge whirlpool at the bottom of the falls. From here we would raft down the first 10 rapids in the lower Zambezi river. The views along the way were stunning, as we floated in between the high cliffs of the Zambezi river - Zambia on the left hand side, and Zimbabwe on the right.

I'd done rafting before, but never this wild. Or at least, I couldn't remember it being this wild. There are 6 classes in white water rafting, and this being a class V meant it was the second-hardest class (with class VI being classified as "considered to be so dangerous as to be effectively unnavigable on a reliably safe basis").

When we booked the tour I was shocked about the steep price, but once on the water the high price made a lot more sense.
Rafting the Zambezi river
A lot of effort has been put into making this adventure as safe as possible. We were together with five rafts, each with their own instructor. Then there were five more people going with us in kayaks, they made sure the rafts stayed together as a group, and in case someone fell overboard they would make sure that person didn't float all the way down the river.

Furthermore there were two first aid kids available as well as a stretcher in case anyone needed to be immobilized and carried out of the gorge. Finally there was a helicopter was available in case any emergency evacuation was needed.

Being told all this beforehand didn't really set our minds at ease, but we needn't have worried. Vincent was a very skilled rafter and as it turned out we were the only raft where not a single person fell overboard.
booze cruise boat
All other rafts lost people along the way, or even had their rafts flip over entirely, but we managed to clear all rapids perfectly.
All but one that is, as rapid #9 is too dangerous to raft, so we had to walk around it.

The rafting ended right after the 10th rapid, from where we would have to climb out of the gorge via a steep and crudely made wooden ladder. It was a gruelling climb, the gorge was about 125 metres deep at this point and the temperature was 35 degrees.
Once at the top the truck which would drive us back to the lodge was waiting for us with ice cold beers, water and soft drinks.

Back at the lodge we had lunch and watched the video of our trip. We had a couple of hours to relax before our next tour would leave: a dinner / sunset cruise on the upper Zambezi river.
sunset over the Zambezi
Same river, completely different trip.
This cruise is also dubbed the booze cruise as it features unlimited drinks at the bar.

We had booked this with Neil and Paul and as it turned out we were the only ones on the cruise. The day before there had been 58 people on this cruise, today only the four of us.

There should have been seven people on the cruise today, but when the other three hadn't shown up after 10 minutes, we left without them. This meant there was as much staff aboard as there were visitors, and there was way too much food. You didn't hear us complain!

The cruise was fantastic. As we leisurely floated along the Zambezi river we saw a family of hippos bathing in the water, and an elephant proudly standing on the shores of the river - our first proper wildlife!

As the sun set he engine was switched off, so we could quietly admire the view of the fiery red ball sinking on the horizon. Somehow I think the experience would have been slightly different had there been 58 drunk people on the boat.

_francine_ says:
The cruise sounds absolutely magical.

And the rafting; dude, quit doing dangerous stuff! listen to your mother friend!
Posted on: Sep 20, 2009
ejames01 says:
Looks like a grand adventure and a lot of fun too!! Awesome pictures!!
Posted on: Sep 18, 2009
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
at the start of the rafting trip
at the start of the rafting trip
Rafting the Zambezi river
Rafting the Zambezi river
Rafting the Zambezi river
Rafting the Zambezi river
booze cruise boat
booze cruise boat
sunset over the Zambezi
sunset over the Zambezi
Rafting the Zambezi river
Rafting the Zambezi river
Rafting the Zambezi river
Rafting the Zambezi river
Rafting the Zambezi river
Rafting the Zambezi river
Rafting the Zambezi river
Rafting the Zambezi river
Rafting the Zambezi river
Rafting the Zambezi river
Rafting the Zambezi river
Rafting the Zambezi river
Rafting the Zambezi river
Rafting the Zambezi river
Rafting the Zambezi river
Rafting the Zambezi river
these were all the guests for the …
these were all the guests for the…
dinner
dinner
dinner
dinner
hippos in the Zambezi waters
hippos in the Zambezi waters
Young hippo showing off
Young hippo showing off
Hippo
Hippo
sunset over the Zambezi
sunset over the Zambezi
sunset over the Zambezi
sunset over the Zambezi
sunset over the Zambezi
sunset over the Zambezi
our tent
our tent
Livingstone Hostels review
Fantastic location - and they know it
This lodge, hotel, campsite, bar, restaurant, travel agency is situated in a stunning setting on the banks of the Zambezi river. The complex has its o… read entire review
Livingstone
photo by: sarahsan