Commercial rafting first commenced on the Zambezi River in 1981 and since then this activity has grown in popularity to the point where a rafting trip on the Zambezi is now a regular feature in most tourists’ itineraries.
In 1997, approximately 50,000 people enjoyed white water rafting on the Zambezi on a stretch of water that is now internationally acclaimed as the best white water rafting trip available anywhere in the world.
Physical features of the river
The Zambezi River is classified as a high volume; pool-drop river i.e. there is little exposed rock either in the rapids or the pools below the rapids. The distance between rapids varies from 100 meters to 2km. The gorge itself is approximately (110m) 360ft deep at the low water starting point and (230m) 750ft at the one-day trip endpoint. The river drops about 400ft over 24km covered in the one-day low water raft trip and the depth of the river in the gorge between rapids has been recorded as deep as (120m) 395ft.
The British Canoe Union has classified the river grade 5 “extremely difficult, long and violent rapids, steep gradients, big drops, and pressure areas”. On the low water rafting trips, nearly half of the rapids negotiated are grade 5. (Grade 6 is unrunnable – rapid number 9, “Commercial Suicide” is a Grade 6 rapid and you'll carry your rafts around this rapid).
Due to the steepness of the gorge, wildlife is not abundant. On occasion, klipspringer, rock hyrax, vervet monkeys, and baboon are spotted. However, the birdlife is far more spectacular. Black eagle, augur buzzard, Peregrines Falcon, black stork, pied and giant kingfisher, and red-winged starling are some of the birds normally seen during the outings, and sightings of the very rare Taita Falcon is not uncommon. There are crocodiles in the river, but they are small due to the unsuitability of the area for their habitation and survival.
Wetsuit tops are provided and are usually used by clients during the colder months; June and July.
Tea and coffee are supplied at the meeting point, prior to departure. However, please note breakfast is not provided so please ensure you have breakfast at your accommodation prior to pick up or you can order a packed breakfast from The Adventure Lodge.
On the river, each raft carries water and cordial. Lunch will consist of beef, chicken, rolls/bread, potato salad, green salad, and orange juice.
At the top of the gorge, at the end of the trip, complimentary soft drinks, mineral water, and beers are available.
Low water: 6:30am - rapids 1 - 19
High water: 7:30 - rapids 11-23
This excursion runs year-round subject to river levels:
High water – approx 28 December to 24 August (stopping in between if river too high)
Low water – approx 24 August to 29 December
- Pick up at your hotel is early, so you are advised to ensure clients arrange packed breakfasts or arrange food from the Hotel prior to collection.
- From the pick-up point, clients are transferred to the top of the Batoka Gorge walk-in point, here you will be checked in. Here you receive a safety briefing and sign the indemnity form.
- After the safety briefing, you fit your life jacket, helmet, and paddle and you will then walk into the gorge. The walk is quite steep. It is advisable to wear sneakers or rafters to walk down the gorge and to take your time.
- Upon arrival at the river's edge, you will get into a raft and practice your paddling skills
- You will then begin your rafting trip.
- At the top of the gorge, Lunch and drinks (cold drinks and beers) are provided. The truck will be waiting for you, to take you back to town
- You will return to The Adventure Lodge at approximately 2.30 pm/2.45 pm, allowing time for other activities or a siesta!!
- Later in the evening, clients can go to the office in town to relive their experience as this is where the DVD and photos will be on display.
- Pick up at your hotel and transfer to The Adventure Lodge for check-in. At check-in, you will receive a safety briefing and sign the indemnity form.
- After check-in, transfer to the top of the gorge where you will receive your life jacket, helmet, and paddle.
- You will then walk into the gorge. The walk is fairly long and quite steep. It is advisable to wear sneakers or rafters to walk down the gorge.
- Upon arrival at the river's edge, you will get into your raft and practice your paddling and rafting instructions from your guide.
- At the top of the gorge, a truck will be waiting for you, with cold drinks and beers, to take you back to town.
- You will transfer back to The Adventure Lodge where you will have your lunch and watch a DVD and photos of your days rafting at the Lodge around 5.00 pm.
Maximum age limit is dependent on the individual’s general state of health and physical fitness.
Clients are requested to reconfirm pick up times and hotels with Adventure Zone, 24 hours before departure. Clients can otherwise meet at the office located at Shop 4, Pumula Centre, Vic Falls, or at The Adventure Lodge.
Videos and photographs
Whilst on the river, videos and photographs will be taken by “Zambezi Memories”. Rafting videos and photographs will be shown at The Adventure Lodge and will be on display at the same place the following day for the overnight clients. Copies of all products shown are available for purchase.