White water rafting down the Zambezi was not something on my bucket list of things to do but as the rest of the boys on the Joburg2Kili team wanted to tick it off their lists I thought why not join in? Although I must be honest I had second thoughts the minute I saw the first rapid of the day.
We booked onto a half day tour with Safari Par Excellance who fetched us from Jollyboys Campsite where we are staying in Livingstone. Although we were only doing a half day on the river this still included the 10 biggest rapids in the Batoka Gorge. As the only girl in the group I knew that I was in for a crazy day out on the rapids as the boys wanted to go BIG.
We were driven to the David Livingstone Hotel where we met up with our river guide called Boyd and safety boat crew that would be taking us down the river. We were given our life jackets, helmets and paddles and then we were taking through a safety briefing by Boyd before jumping on the truck to get to the start in the Victoria Falls. From there we had to walk down the boiling pot trail to get to the start of our white water rafting experience.
We started at the base of Rapid #1 and on seeing how powerful the water was going down the rapid I instantly started to question why I was doing this. After being given a quick briefing on how to paddle and the paddling commands, Boyd instructed us to start paddling forward down part of Rapid #1 which ended up being quite exhilarating. From there we continued down the river and managed to hold onto the raft for the first six rapids but it was at rapid 7 Gullivers Travels, which is the most technical rapid of the river that things flipped.
We entered the rapid and the raft almost flipped and sent myself, Gareth and Warrick tumbling into the water. I managed to grab hold of the raft again and Boyd pulled me back into the raft. Warrick and Gareth had to float down the river through the rest of the rapid before getting back into the raft. I was really shaken up and couldn’t get my body temperature up so I was constantly shivering. Boyd then suggested I go in the safety raft for the next rapid 7b which was more to do with the fact that he knew he was going to take the boys down the hardest line on the rapid.
I was still very shaken up so was very happy to rather go down the rest of the rapid in the safety raft where they took an easier line which has less chance of flipping. I got to view the boys go down the rapid and as soon as they hit the first wave the whole raft overturned and sent the whole team swimming down the rapid which all the boys thought was epic. I continued down rapid 8 in the safety raft again as once again the boys went down the hardest line and flipped the raft.
Rapid 9 is a class 6 rapid which is very technical so it is a compulsory portage. From there I joined the team again to go down the final rapid of the day which we managed with ease. We then got out the rafts and had to hike out of the gorge.
I really did enjoy the experience even though I was really shaken up when I fell out the raft into the rapid but I guess that is what it is all about. The Batoka Gorge is really magnificent and if you want to do white water rafting the Zambezi is definitely the place to do it. I would also recommend Safari Par Excellence as they were really professional and took safety very seriously on the river.
Check out the highlights from our White Water Rafting Experience below: