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General Notes - White Water Rafting, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Some background

Commercial rafting commenced in 1981 on the Zambezi River below Victoria Falls. In 1996, approximately 50000 people did white water rafting at the Falls - this increases steadily every year.

The one-day low water trip is considered to be the best one-day white water experience available in the world.

The basalt gorge below the Falls has been cut over the last 300 million years. The gorge is approximately 120m (400ft) on entry. On the one day trip, the take out point is approximately 230m (750ft) deep, with a gradient of 1 in 2 - it takes approximately 20 minutes to walk out if you're reasonably fit. The river drops by about 120m (400ft) in the first 24km (15 miles). The river is up to 60m (200ft) deep. The rapids are between 100m (330ft) and 2km (1,2 miles) apart. The Zambezi is classified as a high volume, pool drop river. The Zambezi River floods between mid February and the end of June. Huge volumes, in excess of four times that of the Colorado River flood over the Falls at peak. Nearly half of the rapids are classified as Grade 5 - Grade 6 is "unrunnable".

The "low water" run occurs when the Zambezi River is at its low level generally between July and mid-February. This is the most exciting time to do rafting. Day trips are conducted between rapids 1 and 18. The "high water" run follows after fresh inflow from the catchment areas in Angola and Zambia. The water rises and flows more rapidly and the day trips move downstream from rapids 11 to 23.

The steep walls of the gorge are not suited for game. Birdlife is usually very good. There are small crocodiles in the river - they are not a serious threat. Bilharzia is not a risk.


What are the options?

One and half day rafting trips

  • Full day - low water (July to mid-February - the wildest one-day white water in the World.)

  • Half day - low water, morning and afternoon

  • Full day - high water (mid-February to June - the Zambezi in flood.)

Rafting Expeditions

  • One day and overnight

  • Two and a half days

  • Five days

  • Eight days


Who are the operators?

We work with Shearwater, Adrift/Kandahar and Safari Par Excellence - their "modus operandi" differ slightly. "SafPar" operates from both Zimbabwe and Zambia. Shearwater operates on the Zimbabwean side of the river only.


What are the costs?    [these are guide prices only ...get an update...]

  • Full day: US$85

  • Half day (low water only): US$85

  • One day and overnight: US$145

  • Two and a half days: US$320

  • Five days: US$500

  • Seven days: US$630

  • Eight days: US$700


What's the basic plan?

Plan the timing of your trip - low water or high water. Arrange air tickets. Decide on the option you want - day trip or expedition. Plan your accommodation. Consider other activities whilst in Zimbabwe. Make an enquiry or book your trip directly.


Additional info sources

African safari modules: a selection of seasonal safaris in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and East Africa

African maps: a collection of safari related maps covering all of the main safari destinations in Africa

Southern African web guide: a destination and activity summary covering all of the main safari destinations and options in Africa's top safari spots.

Frequently Asked Questions: a selection of FAQ's covering Victoria Falls, travel in Zimbabwe plus additional FAQ's on canoeing and walking safaris.

Canoeing safaris - Zambezi River: one of the most successful safari pursuits in the Zambezi Valley, this guide covers both camping and luxury style safaris

Walking Safaris in Southern Africa: starting with a map of southern Africa, covers the six main walking safari destinations in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana in detail

Victoria Falls: planning a safari at the last-minute, travel tips, hints, and guidelines on climate, best time to travel, travel formalities, discounted airfares and more...

See the latest news updates and news letters: includes a news feed from Africa (updated every 30 minutes), plus newsletters, camp updates and reviews on over 200 additional pages.

UK Head Office
Ermington Mill, Ivybridge, Devon, PL21 9NT
Tel: +44 1548 830059 Fax: +44 870 094 1881
Mobile: +44 7900 582746

African Head Office
The Heights, Kariba, Zimbabwe
Tel: +263 61 3351  Fax: +263 61 2291
Cell: +263 91 343616 

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