September 2006: As part of a 10-day trip that involved cage diving with great White sharks in South Africa, and a canoe safari down the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe, my friend matt and I traveled through Zambia for 4 days from Victoria Falls to Lusaka and onwards to Zimbabwe and back again mostly via public transportation. The highlight of the trip was Clas IV white water rafting in Victoria Falls in one of the wildest white water rafting rides in the world.



Location of Victoria Falls in Zambia

Zambia is a vast country in southern Africa that is overshadowed by its neighbors in terms of tourism with the exception of Victoria Falls despite having some incredible wilderness areas with abundant wildlife. Zambia is one of the leading copper exporters in the world and an ex-British colony where many people speak English as a 2nd language. It is also fairly stable compared to its neighbors Zimbabwe and Congo.

The main goal of my trip in Zambia was to visit Victoria Falls and to travel across the country to do one of the best canoe safaris anywhere in the planet down the Zambesi River in Mana Pools national park on the Zimbabwe side of the Zambezi River. The northern side of the river belongs to Zambia. South African airlines lost my luggage, so I had to do this whole trip without anything but my carry on which made the trip more difficult but the worst part of it all was that I actually saw my backpack in the airport at Victoria Falls but it was behind a closed door and the airport personnel said I had to wait for the manger to arrive to unlock the door but our bus to Lusaka was leaving before then and we couldn’t afford to miss it.


Bus station

Public bus across the country

Victoria Falls is the longest waterfall in the world. However, during the time of my visit unfortunately Victoria Falls was dry and there wasn’t much volume of water on the falls, so it was not impressive. The falls really come to life during or after the wet season, but this wouldn’t be the case during my visit.



Victoria Falls

But being low in volume meant that the rafting would be good. I signed up for a half day of Class IV rafting, the highest class of rapids there is before 6, which is a waterfall. We had to hike down to the bottom of the canyon and from there paddle the raft into a series of rapids that formed after the falls. Each set of rapids varied in difficulty between Class 3 and 5. At the end of each rapid was a calm pool of water where kayakers would collect passengers that were tossed from the raft in the rapids. The trip was not without its risks. We were told that passengers have died, drown, and been battered by rocks and that there was even a risk of hippos and crocodile although small.



View of one of the rafting falls from the hike down to the river

Me on the raft

Calm part of the river

Class IV Rapids

Class IV Rapids

One of the rapids was so rough that we were blinded by white water and all we could do was duck down and hold on to the raft for dear life. The violence of the rapids was enormous and knocked everyone out of the raft aside from the rafting guide and me. One by one the passengers were collected by kayakers and returned to the raft.



Deep in the rapids

Zambia is definitely the kind of country I would love to return to someday to see more of. I especially want to visit the Luangwa national park in the north. From Zambia, we flew to Madrid via South Africa and onwards to San Diego.


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