The “Mighty Zambezi” has become one of the most incomparable rivers in the world. It is big, wild and intimidating, but relatively easy and safe, making it a mecca for commercial river rafters from all over the globe, and a playboater’s heaven.
At a length of 3540km it is the fourth longest river on the continent. It rises in northwestern Zambia, from where it makes a bend through Angola, and then travel south through Zambia, before heading east to the Indian Ocean. On its course it forms the border of northeastern Botswana and the boundary between Zambia and Zimbabwe, where it flows through Lake Kariba. Further down it crosses central Mozambique, where it flows through the lake of Cabora Bassa Dam, and then into the Mozambique Channel, before meeting the ocean. Along its course, various sections of whitewater can be found, but the most famous rapids can be found in the Batoka Gorge.
Victoria Falls, alias “Mosi-o-Tunya” or “Smoke that Thunders”, is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It is also a World Heritage site. The Falls mark the start of the Batoka Gorge, where the Zambezi provides the best one-day whitewater rafting trips in the world.
Apart from the rafting, other commercial activities are also offered, providing a full-on adventure holiday. Anything from bungi-jumping to body-boarding to hot-air ballooning is on offer for thrill-seekers.
Several luxurious hotels and bush camps in the area cater for all levels of affluency. More rustic activities can also be undertaken, such as game drives and flat-water cruises above the Falls. The river is wide and flat above the Falls, offering close-range viewing of Africa’s plenitude of wild animals.
The myth of the Nyaminyami, the river god, has been exploited on a large scale by entrepreneurs, who have amplified its status far beyond that which the BaTonga people could have imagined.
The small town of Victoria Falls used to be the hub of activity for travellers, but since the political turmoil in Zimbabwe, it has lost some of its business to Zambia on the other side of the river. The little town of Livingstone on the Zambian side, named after explorer David Livingstone who discovered and named the Victoria Falls, is used as a base by many kayakers who want to play the Zambezi. (more…)