Named after one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world and situated on the southern bank of the Zambezi river is the town of Victoria Falls. From the centre of town, it is walking distance to the entrance of the Victoria Falls National Park, which is the best place to visit the iconic waterfalls.Vic Falls (as it is more commonly known) has so much more to offer for its tourists than just the falls. The Zambezi is the fourth longest river in Africa and after the backdrop of the waterfall, the river cuts through the Batoka gorge, making it a perfect host for various adventure activities. Hence, the area is known as the adrenaline paradise of Southern Africa.
What makes it even more special is that the river defines the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, making any river activity balancing in between two countries.
1. White Water Rafting
The most epic adrenaline activity is to conquer the mighty Zambezi river on a white water raft. With its high concentration of number 4 and 5 grade rapids, this rafting is considered as being one of the best and wildest one day commercial raftings in the world. On top of that are you are in a 120 meters deep gorge in between two countries (Zambia and Zimbabwe) and the views are amazing during the rafting trip. The river is considered as one of the safest for white water rafting, due to the deep water, steep cliffs and lack of rocks sticking out of the water.
The rafting takes place during low water levels, when the river is fast and the rapids are even more epic. A few months per year, the river will be closed for commercial white water rafting.
When doing the full day rafting, you will have to conquer up to 23 rapids, all with interesting names like ‘The washing machine’, Stairway to heaven’, ‘Overland truck eater’, ‘The devil’s toilet bowl’ and ‘Morning glory’. All rapids follow each other pretty fast, making it a full day adrenaline rush right to the end.
There is a big chance of falling in the river and having to swim the rest of the rapid. If the boat does not flip, don’t worry, your rafting guide will do his best to make it flip at least once to make the ride more fun. When you fall in the water, to say it with the words of the guide ‘hold on tight and enjoy the swim’. The guides are very professional and do everything they can to make you feel at ease and enjoy the day. Just one thing is for sure, you will definitely get very wet.
The most difficult part of the day, in my humble opinion, is the climb in and out of the steep gorge before and after the rafting. The river lays 120 meters deep in the Batoka gorge and there is not really an easy path, nor a cable car, nor a lift. You will walk down, with your gear (except the boat). In the morning, going down it is still fun. But after a full day of rafting, your muscles are very tense and climbing out becomes a real challenge. However, when reaching the top, a nice buffet lunch is waiting plus a cooler box filled with cold drinks and ice cold beers. You’ll be going up fast to enjoy this as soon as possible…believe me.
As a bonus, a local photographer will join the rafting and make a video of the most epic rapids and take photos, which you can buy. It’s definitely a must have and nice souvenir of your experience. The rafting photos are taken by VicFallsProductions.
I am not an adrenaline junkie, but I just love the rafting. I have done it twice now and will definitely do it again.
2. Bungee Jumping
Bungee jumping can be done in a lot of places around the world. So what makes this 111 meters high jump so spectacular over other places?
First of all, the jump takes place on the legendary Victoria Falls bridge built in 1905 and commissioned by Cecil John Rhodes as part of his historic Cape to Cairo railway project. It crosses the Zambezi river and connects Zambia with Zimbabwe. The border of each country is located at either side of the bridge. In all, you’ll be bungee jumping in ‘no man’s land’.
The scenery of the Batoka gorge is striking and in the background you’ll be hearing the thunder of the Victoria Falls. While jumping, you’ll go straight down to the roaring of the mighty Zambezi flowing with all its force under the bridge.
As the bungee is done on a public bridge, you’ll have an audience around you and all your friends can stand by your side watching you jump and filming the whole scene.
A few years ago, this bungee jump came into the news with a negative experience. One of the bungee cords snapped and a girl fell in the water. The first good news is that she survived. The other good news is that higher safety precautions will have been taken due to this experience. Even just after the incident, the Zambian minister of tourism himself jumped in order to reassure all tourists that it is still save to jump.
3. Gorge Swing
If you still don’t have enough adrenaline jumping off cliffs and bridges, or you would like something different than a bungee jump, you can do the gorge swing.
The swing is 95 meters long and 120 meters above the ground…uh, water. The difference with a bungee jump is that you’ll be wearing a harness attached to your upper body instead of a cord around your feet. You won’t hang upside down with the gorge swing. There is a free fall of about 70 meters and you’ll be swinging in a pendulum for a while. The gorge swing is attached across the Batoka gorge and again the views are magnificent.
If you are not sure to jump alone, it is also possible to do a tandem swing with your partner or friend, but there is a total weight restriction.
4. Zip Line
Attached to a harness and a pulley you’ll be rushing along a zip line over 425 meters across the gorge.
It is slightly less of an adrenaline rush than the gorge swing and the bungee jump. So it is perfect if you would like to experience a slide into the gorge but somewhat more relaxed. Even children are fine to do this. The zip line can also be done in a tandem with a friend or partner.
5. The Flying Fox
What’s in a name…
With this activity, a line is attached over the gorge. You stand on a platform and starting with a run, you launch yourself off that platform into the air. You fly straight over the gorge while enjoying the spectacular view of the area.
It really is a fun activity to do, especially as a combined package with the other activities.
All these activities can be booked around town. The price will be more or less the same with every booking company. For most of the activities, you’ll be picked up with a vehicle from your accommodation and dropped off again, except for the bungee jump, where you’ll have to make your own way to the bridge.
If you don’t have many days to spend in VicFalls, it is possible to combine a few of these activities on the same day. Even if you do a full day rafting, you’ll be back in town around 3PM and can still make your way to the gorge swing or bungee jump.
And last but not least, after a day filled with adrenaline activities, you could round it all off with a sunset cruise (also known as the ‘booze cruise’) on the upper Zambezi, while admiring the local wildlife and scenery.
And if you would like a food adrenaline experience, try this local dish of Mopane Worms.
Would you consider any of those activities? Or have you already done one and how did you like it?