Thu 10th, Fri 11th & Sat 12th Nov – Camping at Shearwater Explorers
Around Vic Falls: 6km
Victoria Falls – Botswana Border: 70km
Total km driven from Nairobi to departing Zimbabwe: 311km
Mosi-Ao-Tunya … The Smoke that Thunders!
What do ‘White Creamy Buttocks’, ‘Judgement Day’ and the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ (or is it the ‘Highway to Hell’?) all have in common? They’re all names of grade 3-5 rapids in the Zambezi River, below the mighty Victoria Falls and some of them are pretty awe-inspiring. The river is pretty much at its’ lowest at this time of year but that doesn’t mean things are tamer… if anything, the lower water exposes more jutting rocks and churning white water than when the level is higher.
We had a fantastic day out on the water, just 4 of us in a raft with ‘TT’ the guide from Shockwave Adventures. We were buffeted about, churned around and spent more time clinging on for dear life than we’d ever admit to publicly. We both survived the ‘Devil’s Toilet Bowl’, I got ejected from the front of the raft at ‘Oblivion’ and Kian was swept away at ‘Surprise Surprise’. We rafted 18 rapids, portered around one Grade 6 rapid, ended the day absolutely exhausted and felt the hard paddling in our muscles for the next couple of days. We even had time for a little game-viewing and sighted 3 different crocodiles, 2 alive and one dead, including a 4-5 footer who watched us from a rock on the riverbank as we were all swam past, having been launched into the water by TT a little upstream.
For us, Vic Falls was a chance to let off some steam after lots of time in the car and get the adrenalin going. Kian managed to persuade me that the ‘Gorge Swing’ was a great plan. I discovered (a little too late) that this involved a 70 meter plummet down a sheer cliff face before being swung out over the Zambezi waters. I must have used up a month’s worth of expletives during the 3-second free-fall, which I can assure you feels an awful lot longer. Glad to have done it but I wasn’t rushing back to sign up for a second round.
The falls themselves are pretty amazing. The rainy season will cause the river to swell and the clouds of mist that are thrown up, the ‘thundering smoke’ in the name, will become much bigger. However, having a little less water meant we could actually see the rocks and falls and get a real understanding of how much rock has been carved away by water over the eons.
A fun way to end our time in Zimbabwe and we’re looking forward to our next stop, Botswana.