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Victoria Falls Adrenaline Activities

Whether white water rafting on the swirling turbulent current of the Zambezi River in the gorges below the Victoria Falls or having a drink in the “Devil’s Swimming Pool”, the region offers a wide range of activities designed to get heart rates soaring. The one and a half kilometre wide Victoria Falls are one of the most iconic sights in global tourism and the spectacular scenery lends itself to adventure. Some people choose to bungee jump from the Victoria Falls Bridge that arches high across the gorge between Zambia and Zimbabwe while others select a microlight flight above the thundering Falls.

Whether white water rafting on the swirling turbulent current of the Zambezi River below the Victoria Falls or having a drink in the “Devil’s Swimming Pool” the region offers a wide range of activities designed to get heart rates soaring.

The one and a half kilometre wide (at peak river flow), Victoria Falls are one of the most iconic sights in global tourism and the spectacular scenery lends itself to adventure. After plunging over the “Falls” the river then surges through a series of gorges creating a series of exhilarating rapids that run for about 30 kms.

A short distance downstream from the main “Falls” is the Victoria Falls Bridge which was built in 1905 and is used for a breath-taking 111 metre bungee jump. The jumping platform is in the middle of the bridge which arches across the gorge between the Zimbabwean and Zambia border posts but officials on either side of the bridge are happy to issue a pass which allows tourists using the jump to do so without having to go through formal border regulations. In addition to the bungee jumping, a gorge swing, abseil and flying fox should satisfy the most avid adrenalin junkie.

Far below the bungee jump platform inflatable, rubber duck, boats can be seeing carrying tourists through the steep walled gorge and through spectacular “white water” rapids.

Visitors have a wide range of white water rafting trips from which to choose. Rafting trips on offer vary from half day, full day and then some that include overnighting at campsites along the banks of the river. All trips are exhilarating. Some of the rapids are very big – classified as Grade 5 – and the full day’s white water rafting trip is one of the most exciting anywhere. People undertaking the full day trip need to be reasonably fit to be able to cope with paddling and the severe bucking and bouncing the “rubber ducks” are subjected to when navigating the surging rapids. Participants need to know that depending on the time of the year and the level of water there is a reasonable chance that a raft could flip and they could become what is termed in the industry a ‘swimmer’. Life jackets will keep the ‘swimmer afloat’ until picked up either by their own raft that the guide has subsequently recovered, another raft or one of the safety crew in kayaks following the rafts.

Potential rafters also need to be fairly fit to be able to climb the steep sides of the gorge to get to vehicle that will be waiting to take the group back to their hotel or lodge accommodation. The sides of the gorge are far too steep to allow the construction of roads down the river bank, however on the Zambian side a lift out of the gorge is in place at rapid number 23.

Before embarking on a rafting adventure the rafting operators will make enquiries as to the state of health of each participant, explain safety procedures and issue each person with an inflatable life jacket and helmet. White water rafting trips are run from both the Zimbabwean and Zambia sides of the river.

For safety reasons the rafting companies do not run white water rafting operations when the river is very high, floods usually occurring from the end of March to the end of April. The level of the water is dependent on the extent of rains in northern Zambia (where the Zambezi rises) and in Angola and the floodwater takes weeks, sometimes months, to reach the Falls. The river levels vary from year to year so it is best to check before embarking on a white water rafting trip.

For those who prefer to take to the air a number of companies offer sightseeing trips over the Falls by helicopter, microlight and occasionally small fixed wing aircraft.

Those more in favour of terrestrial activities, although no less thrilling, may want to try lunch on Livingstone Island and a swim in the “Devil’s Swimming Pool,” a shallow pool cut off from the edge of the Falls by a narrow wall of rock. The pool is only accessible from the Zambian side of the Falls at low water – usual from about September to November. The adventurous can lean on the rocks and peer into the chasm below but it is not an exercise for the fainthearted and should only be undertaken with extreme caution.

In addition to the experiences described above the Falls area also offers canoeing on the Zambezi, sundowners on the river, horse riding, fishing, elephant back safaris, day trips into the nearby Chobe National Park in neighbouring Botswana, tours of markets, tours of museums, elegant dining and high teas – something for every one.

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