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Published: June 25th 2017
Geo: -17.8573, 25.8429
Our objective in Zambia was to visit the world famous Victoria Falls- while it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, it is classified as the largest, based on its width of 1,708 metres and height of 108 metres, resulting in the world's largest sheet of falling water. Victoria Falls is roughly twice the height of North America's Niagara Falls. English explorer Dr. Livingston (he of the "Dr Livingston I Presume" fame), was the first European to see the Mosi-oa-Tunya ("the smoke that thunders"😉 waterfall (which he renamed Victoria Falls after Queen Victoria) so it was appropriate that we use Livingston, Zambia as our base.
The Zambezi River, upstream from the falls, experiences a rainy season from late November to early April, and a dry season the rest of the year. The spray from the falls typically rises to a height of over 400 metres, and sometimes even twice as high, and is visible from up to 48 km away. During a full moon, a "moonbow" can be seen in the spray instead of the usual daylight rainbow. During the flood season, however, it is impossible to see the foot of the falls and most
of its face, and the walks along the cliff opposite it are in a constant shower and shrouded in mist. Close to the edge of the cliff, spray shoots upward like inverted rain, especially at Zambia's Knife-Edge Bridge.
So if you're into the audio you need to be here during the thundering peak flood season, however if your name is DH (where the “D” stands for Death Defying) you need to be here in the dryer season because that's when Class 4/Class5 rafting on the famous Zambezi is at its best. And if you survive the turbulent waters, there's always the Devils Pool.
The one-day low water rafting trip is considered to be the best one-day white water experience available in the world. We were assured that it was perfectly safe so we popped on some stylish yellow helmets (that probably wouldn't hold up against a stray nerf ball) and jumped in the raft with a couple of new friends and did the full day run. Nearly half of the rapids are classified as Grade 5 - Grade 6 is "unrunnable".The rapids have all been given cute names like the Boiling Pot, Stairway to Heaven, the Devils Toilet Bowl, the Gnashing
Jaws Of Death, the 3 Ugly Sisters, Terminator, Oblivion, and somewhat inexplicably, Creamy White Buttocks. Given that DH was spending more time outside of the raft than in it, I didn't have the heart to tell her that rafting on the Zambezi does have significant risk- apparently about 30 people per year die although that's mainly because of crocodiles and hippos (probably targeting stray rafters by tracking those bright yellow helmets).
Having survived the rapids, DH decided we needed a bit of an adrenalin rush and insisted that we check out the “Devils Pool”. The Pool is a famous feature that is the naturally formed near the edge of the falls just off of Livingstone Island on the Zambian side. When the river flow is at a certain level, usually between September and December, a rock barrier forms an eddy with a lighter current, allowing idiots like us to splash around a few feet from the point at which the water cascades over the falls. As we've traveled the world we've done things that, with the clarity of hindsight, we've wondered about afterward- this was an activity that we wondered about before during, and after we did it. Imagine getting
into a flowing river and have a current push you to the edge of a huge waterfall – all the while relying entirely on the assurance of an African guide (that we had never met before) that a rock ledge which we couldn't see would stop us from going over. Occasional deaths have been reported when people have slipped over the rock barrier but, just to take our concerns off the table, our guide very helpfully suggested that all of these incidents were suicides??
Having survived all of Zambia we look back on it with fondness. The people and adventures were outstanding.
Tot: 3.506s; Tpl: 0.055s; cc: 11; qc: 49; dbt: 0.0825s; 3; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb