I woke up Wednesday morning to the sound of monkeys going crazy outside of my tent. They were swinging between the trees and even crashing into our tents. It wasn’t a terrible wakeup call and I had to be up anyway because Fabian and I were rafting down the Zambezi all day and had to arrive at the front gate ready to go. Before we set off we had a lesson on safety and they explained to us what to expect along the way. There were 5 other people in our group that would be sharing the same boat as us. After the lesson we all got suited up in life vests, a helmet, and an ore. The ride to the falls was fairly quick, it was the same location Cat and I discovered the day before. So down to the bottom of the gorge we went and when we arrived at the bottom there were two large yellow rafts awaiting us, one for all of us and one as the ‘safety’ boat. We were also going to be meeting up with another group along the way and the second raft would end up being theirs. The first rapid we went through was a class 4 and it was a decent challenge to start us off. For the first half of the day the safety boat would go ahead of us and after they made it out the rapids we would follow suit. On our third rapid we watched as the safety boat went down the rapids and then capsized. We all looked at each other thinking the same thing… if they couldn’t do it then how were we supposed to do! Surprisingly enough our group made it through but the following rapid wasn’t as successful. As our raft launched up and off a large oncoming wave we all flew backwards and I took out the guide as we both fell off. I went down the rest of that rapid staying afloat by my life vest and have absolutely no other control over what happened to me or where I went. It was pretty scary at first not having any control and at times being stuck under water, but the thrill was like nothing else! You basically just had to stay calm and know/hope that you’d be alright… in time. The rest of the morning was similar and we ended up flipping our raft twice and being thrown off several more times. It actually got to the point where Fabian and I preferred taking on the river without the raft and would sometimes ‘fall’ out of the boat at just the right time. Most of the time when we did this it would be on a class rapid less than 3 or else it could prove too dangerous. Later on in the trip we went through a series of 4 rapids back to back. The first three were class 3 and the fourth was a class 5. Our group was doing pretty good but right at the start of the class 5 a few of us flew out and were swept through in just our vests. I must say it was a crazy experience and absolutely nothing you’d ever be able to do back home, where there are actually safety precautions. about halfway through our trip down the rapids is started to storm over us. Being deep int he gorges made the thunder seem endless as it echoed between the the Zambia and Zimbabwe cliffs. Have the rain come down while you maneuver through difficult rapids really adds to the badassness of the trip. When we got to the final set of rapids there was a cable car waiting to take us back up to civilization. We had rafted nearly 30 kilometers south and would need to be picked up and brought home.
Prior to this rafting experience my favorite part of the trip had been quad biking through the sand dunes of Namibia but I think since then I’d have to replace that with this rafting excursion. It was such an amazing time and if time permitted I’d definitely do it again!
That night was our last night with the rest of the tour group so we had a big meal together and said some final good byes. Naturally I left all my packing till the following morning just before getting in the taxi that would take us to the airport.
I first had a flight to Johannesburg and then a connection flight to Cape Town. Leaving Zambia in a plane gave a really neat perspective of the falls and I tried my best to capture it on film but the quality isn’t great. The rest of the day consisted of spending time in airports and waiting around for flights. I was lucky enough to hangout in the airport lounge in Joburg which happened to be fully inclusive and made the time well spent there. I was actually completely content with just staying in that lounge but unfortunately my place did eventually come. I arrived in Cape Town late that night and got a taxi back to the SASTS house were I nearly immediately passed out.
Overall, the trip was incredible! I highly recommend doing something like this and I hope to do it again in the future. The places you see, the friends you make, and the memories are irreplaceable! I miss it already 😦 haha