Whitewater Rafting Down The Zambezi River


Spanning a length of 2,700 kilometers, the Zambezi River is the 4th largest river system in Africa (after the Nile, Zaire, and Niger River systems). Just how big is it? Imagine this: it journeys from Central Africa all the way to the Indian Ocean – running through 6 different countries.

With currents strong enough to eventually carve the Victoria Falls and Batoka Gorge, the Zambezi’s power has been utilized by various dams along the way like the Kariba and CaboraBassa Dam.

Less developed than other river systems as far as human settlement goes and with many of its areas along the banks enjoying a protected status, many of Zambezi’s features have remained the same throughout the years.Matter of fact, the river’s natural beauty has attracted tourists from around the world. However, when foreigners come to Zambezi, it’s usually to enjoy its most famous watersport: Whitewater rafting.

Zambezi Whitewater Rafting – Basics You Have To Know

With 23 rapids waiting to be traversed; highly diverse wildlife; and miles of untamed forest, any self-professed adventurer can’t afford to miss the hair-raising and thrilling attractions that the Zambezi River system has to offer. BUT before you start packing and booking a plane ticket to Africa, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

To begin, whitewater rafting down the Zambezi River (and below the Victoria Falls) has been categorized as Grade 5 by the British Canoe Union. With long and turbulent rapids; big drops; and very steep gradients, it is extremely difficult especially if you don’t have the right gears. So if you plan to go whitewater rafting in this river system, don’t forget to bring the following gears:

– Appropriate swimwear
– Shorts and t-shirts (you want to feel as light and as comfortable as possible)
– A hat that can fit under your helmet (ex.: baseball hat)
– Sunscreen lotion for skin protection
– Sunglasses that can be fitted with a strap (Contact lenses are a big no-no as they can get washed out)

When To Visit

As much as possible, you want to visit between July and mid-February. During this time of the year, the waterat the Zambezi River drops down to its low-level, and this makes rafting even more exciting!Day trips and tours are usually done between Rapids 1 and 18. On the other hand, the high water run comes after the fresh influx of water from Angola and Zambia.From Rapids 11 to 23, the water steps up to a higher level and flows more rapidly.

What’s There To See

If you come to Zambezi for game, you might be disappointed. The gorge’s steep walls make it very unsuitable. However, there is a lot of other beautiful stuff to see at the Zambezi River.

For starters, you get to see diverse and colorful birdlife in action. And if you want to get ‘up close and personal’ with crocodiles a la Brady Barr, that’s possible, too. The crocodiles, however, are small and they’re not a serious threat for visitors and rafters.

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