If you are unaware what White Water Rafting is, let me tell you ... basically you float down a rough river in an inflatable raft dodging rocks and, in the case of the Zambezi, crocodiles and hippos!
The Zambezi is at the top of White Rafting destinations in the world and it’s done at Victoria Falls on a 24km stretch down the Zambezi River. It has a total of 24 Grade 4 and 5 rapids. According to Wikipedia, the grades for rapids are as follows...
Class 2: Some rough water, maybe some rocks, might require some maneuvering. (Skill level: basic paddling skill)
Class 3: Whitewater, small waves, maybe a small drop, but no considerable danger. May require significant manoeuvring.
Class 4: Whitewater, medium waves, maybe rocks, maybe a considerable drop, sharp maneuvers may be needed.
Class 5: Whitewater, large waves, large volume, possibility of large rocks and hazards, possibility of a large drop, requires precise manoeuvring.
Class 6: Class 6 rapids are considered to be so dangerous that they are effectively un-navigable on a reliably safe basis. Rafters can expect to encounter substantial whitewater, huge waves, huge rocks and hazards, and/or substantial drops that will impart severe impacts beyond the structural capacities and impact ratings of almost all rafting equipment. Traversing a Class 6 rapid has a dramatically increased likelihood of ending in serious injury or death compared to lesser classes.
Because the opportunity was there and you sometimes have to get out of your comfort zone – you may just surprise yourself and have fun!!
How the day started ...
I had booked with the highly professional Shearwater who gave us a pre-departure talk taken by a mad (but very funny) man who described in all-too graphic detail what we were about to experience!
If I wasn’t scared before, then I certainly was now!
The safety talk wasn’t much better –we were told what would happen if we came out of the raft and what to do if the boat flips. If you became a short-swimmer, it meant you have fallen into the water but are holding on to the safety line, alternatively you could be a long –swimmer which meant that you are floating downstream.
This was low water season which meant the rapids were more aggressive. The chances were significantly higher (if not a foregone conclusion) that we definitely would end up in the water! Oh yaaaaay!
I started walking but decided I would feel a lot safer on my bum so I literally ‘bummed’ it down until we came to a set of ladders. This was the first ladder, apparently there were about four in total! Yippee, this just keeps getting better and better! Also, to add to the “fun”, they were steep, wet and long with only some wire criss-cross fence type thing and a rope to guide you down!
But I survived! Mainly because I had the help of three or four people holding my hand, guiding my feet and taking my body weight, they even held my life-jacket! Apparently I caused a bit of a delay at the top of the gorge and, whilst in the queue, a friend of mine thought to themselves “I bet that’s Angie” – yep, they were right!
When I finally got into the raft, I was shaking like a leaf! Rafts capsize much easier than canoes or kayaks and when they do, they flip side over side so we went through a practice run of jumping to the left, and right then into the water and I soon got into the swing of things.
No more talking, no more rapid-practice… let’s do this!
We head towards rapid No. 4 – “Morning Glory” and I’m not going to lie ...I was sh*tting myself as we crashed into the wave and were thrown all over the place..but we came through it – still intact, still alive and thankfully still in the raft!
We had to walk around No. 9 “Commercial Suicide” because it’s a “ferocious rapid, with many hidden dangers and is not commercially viable” whilst carrying our raft! I cleverly managed to put my foot straight into a pothole and bruise my knee! The boat was heavy and difficult to carry and we had to clamber over rocks then re-enter the water to face Rapid 10, “The Gnashing Jaws of Death” ... THEN we could stop for a well earned break and lunch!
Getting out of the boat for lunch, I fell into the water and fell onto a rock! I had had enough! I ached all over, I was exhausted both mentally and physically, my nose was hurting and I didn’t have enough energy to fart let alone continue rafting.
Thankfully there is always the option at this half way point to not continue and so my decision was made! I would chicken out whilst I was still in one piece (or was that ½ a piece!)
It seems it was only me that wasn’t enjoying myself – everyone else seemed to be having a blast!
So I started my ascent for the treacherous climb up and out of the gorge! A very kind African man said to me “Do you recognise me from this morning?”. It turned out he was one of the guys that helped me down and the poor soul was now offering to help me back up again! This was very sweet of him, especially as he knew what a scaredy-cat I was! And help me out he did, all the way up as I took gruelling step after gruelling step, bless him, at the end he practically had to drag me to the top whilst carrying my helmet, life jacket and body suit all the way!
He was my saviour, my knight in shining armour, he got me through it and kept me laughing the entire time by whistling!
So, the question you may be asking is, would I recommend this to anyone? HELL YEAH!! OMG if you have an opportunity to do this, whether it be at Victoria Falls or anywhere else in the world, you have to do it! The chances are you will have the thrill of your life and wonder what on earth this daft blogger is talking about!!
For a full list of the rapid names and descriptions click this link http://www.zambezirafting.com/livingstone-zambia/zambezi-river-rapid-guide.html
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