Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Guest Post: Whitewater Rafting with Crocodiles in Zimbabwe



Whitewater Rafting with Crocodiles in Zimbabwe

If you have visions of clinging to the back of a 12 foot crocodile as you career down the mighty Zambezi, then think again. You can’t exactly book a day’s white water rafting with crocodiles through your travel agent, but believe me… they lurk in the waters with only the river god, Nyami Nyami to protect you.

Victoria Falls offers the adventure traveller plenty of adrenaline inducing thrills that include a 111m bungee jump, micro-light flights over “The Smoke That Thunders” and of course, white water rafting on grade 4 and 5 rapids. They would take you on grade 6, but according to the international white water rafting code, these are not commercially runnable.

Getting There

Although Victoria Falls is relatively remote in terms of its distance to the nearest city, they boast a small international airport. You would need to get a flight to one of the regional cities like Harare, Lusaka, Windhoek, Gaborone or Johannesburg and then you can get relatively cheap tickets from there for the short hop to Vic Falls.

Time for Thrills

Once you’re settled in your hotel or backpacker’s lodge, there is something for every budget in Victoria Falls including high end five star hotels, then it’s time to book your appointment with the rapids.
You can usually book a day or so in advance so don’t feel you need to book it weeks ahead. Get there; get a feel for the place and then shop around for the best deal.
My advice is to book a day trip because once you get going you won’t want it to end. This place doesn’t send you down the same strip of river several times, you go one way all day and never face the same rapid twice. With names like Oblivion, The Washing Machine and Devils Toilet Bowl you probably won’t want to face them more than once!

What About The Crocodiles?

In between each rapid, there are pools of calm where you can catch your breath, have a drink of water and take in the rugged surroundings as you drift towards the next rapid. This is where the crocodiles lurk so if you happen to have been thrown from your raft in the preceding rapid or indeed have capsized your raft, then you’ll probably want to flip that boat over double quick time and get back in as quickly as possible.

As one can expect from any professionally run operation, which these are, you will be well drilled before you head down the river. Your instructor will explain all the ins and outs as well as how to rescue your fellow passengers from the water.
The best time of year to go to Victoria Falls is between August and January while the river is relatively low which means the rapids are wild.  If you go at other times of the year, you can’t do the full 23 rapids and because the water is higher, the rapids are a bit boring for thrill seekers. Ironically, more dangerous too as the undercurrents are far more powerful and therefore more likely to suck you under the water, never to be seen again.

If you’re going to go white water rafting, you will find it very hard, if not impossible to find a better experience anywhere else in the world. And at the end of a full day’s rafting, you have the small matter of a 250 foot climb out of the gorge in scorching temperatures, but at the top you will be welcomed by possibly the nicest, coldest beer you have or ever will enjoy.

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