The mighty Zambezi is Africa’s fourth largest river and the biggest running into the Indian Ocean. The river was first commercially rafted back in 1981 and today there are many different kinds of Zambezi rafting holidays to enjoy, from the stretch below Victoria Falls that’s the location for adrenaline-fuelled rafting adventures to more peaceful rafting safaris downstream.
Zambezi rafting holidays can be anything you want them to be. Experience an eight day rafting and safari adventure or simply buckle up for a day’s rafting you’ll never forget. With some serious class V rapids, the Zambezi offers no-holds barred rafting adventures, but it also offers so much more.
Rising in Zambia, the Zambezi flows through eastern Angola and along the eastern border of Namibia and northern border of Botswana. It then runs between Zambia and Zimbabwe before flowing into Mozambique and into the vast Indian Ocean.
It is 2,574 kilometres long and home to the iconic Victoria Falls, as well as Chavuma Falls and Ngonye Falls. Rafting takes place below Victoria Falls in the vast river gorge carved out of the rock over the last 300 million years. The river floods between mid February and the end of June, with volumes in excess of four times that of the Colorado River.
Since the first commercial rafting expeditions in 1981 thousands of people have enjoyed Zambezi rafting holidays, entering the 120m deep gorge and navigating downstream to a gorge depth of 230m, at a gradient of 1 in 2. The river drops by around 120m in the first 24 km, with rapids around 2km apart.
With some rapids that are grade V, some sections are extremely tough with steep gradients and big drops. Of course, not every Zambezi rafting experience involves taking on the harder sections of the river. Here’s a quick run down of five very different Zambezi adventures you can choose between.
Specialist rafting adventure
Spend seven full days making your way down stream from Victoria Falls, passing rapids with terrifying names such as ‘Oblivion’ and ‘Stairway to Heaven’. Camp on the banks and drink in the wild Africa that’s all around you. Get a good night’s sleep as tomorrow you’re back in the boat. For details visit Water by Nature.
An eight day rafting trip starting off with rapids beneath the colossal Victoria Falls, you’ll make your way down river, staying in sandy beach safari camps. This is combined with a three-day safari in Botswana’s Chobe National Park. For more information on the itinerary check out the trip at Oars.
Full/half day trips
These short, adrenaline-fuelled adventures with local providers start with a morning of extremely tough class V rapids, long and violent sections, big drops and steep gradients. All of which makes the slightly calmer afternoon section more relaxing. You can also choose to only tackle either rapids 1 to 10 or 10 to 25 on half day trips. Find out more at Safari Par Excellence.
Romantic river island retreat
Not all Zambezi adventures are about pounding hearts and adrenaline. A four day river island retreat is an ideal getaway for romantic holidaymakers and honeymooners. Enjoy personalised service, great food and loads of river based activities, including some rafting as you move between luxurious river lodges. Visit Siyabona Africa to find out more.
Ok, not strictly rafting we know but for those looking for a more individual adventure there are Zambezi kayaking options to suit most paddlers. Arrange tuition, go tandem or simply hire equipment and a guide and take on this incredible river. All of this, as well as inflatable kayaking options, are available from Kayak the Zambezi.
So there we have it five very different Zambezi rafting holidays. Please let us know if there is another way to enjoy this river that we have missed.