I have always dreamed of doing white water rafting on the Zambezi and this December we got our opportunity. It was and amazing exhilarating experience but there are a few thing you need to be aware of about the day and before you go
We did the day trip on the Zim side
1. It is dangerous and people have lost their lives doing it - this in not to discourage anyone and part of the experience but if you are scared easily this is definitely not for you
2. The pickup is early morning, between 6 and 6:30. Make sure you eat something, preferably a full breakfast - if your hotel does not serve breakfast at that time pre arrange for something to eat or buy something the previous day. It is a long day from here and you won’t get anything to eat until lunch time. They used to stop half way for lunch but this is not the case anymore.
3. The walk down to the river is STEEP, down the gorge and very intimidating. Do not try and do this in slops - wear a good pair of sneakers with proper grip that you don’t mind getting wet. Wear comfortable clothes – shorts and a t-shirt is best
4. They do not serve the tea or coffee before the trip.
5, Make sure you constantly drink water - we started too late as the water was on the other raft. They take water along for the trip, just ask.
6. Listen to the guides, they do this for a living - some of them do this in excess of 100 days a year. They are there to keep you and the other rafters safe – respect their instructions and the river and you will be fine and enjoy yourself so much more
7. At the end of the trip you will be expected to walk out of the gorge again with your life jacket, paddle and helmet, this is 220m straight up and one of the most taxing physical things I have done. Under normal circumstances it is gruelling, now imagine doing this after a full 5 hours of walking, paddling and swimming - take your time, rest and drink a lot of water.
8. There is no point in taking a camera or sun glasses they have to be checked in in any case and can’t be taken on the river. The operators take a video and pictures of the day - it's $45 and well worth it
9 Take a small or hand size high protection factor sun screen with you and apply it every hour to your face, legs and arms - there were some clever people with us that underestimated the African sun and got severe sunburn.
10. Most importantly have FUN - the rapids are amazing - at least 5 grade 5 rapids, the views in the gorge breath taking and the trip down the Zambezi one I will always remember fondly.