White Water Rafting at Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River is considered to be the ultimate destination. The Zambezi is famous for it’s extremely high volume and steep gradient and is the wildest one-day low water whitewater rafting trip in the world!
The Zambezi River is described as a deep channelled, high volume river, boasting Class 3 to 5 rapids with tranquil pools between the raging torrents of the rapids. Some of the rapids below the Victoria Falls have been given a classification of Grade 5, this is the highest classification given a rapid before being considered unpassable. Class 5’s are extremely difficult, long and violent rapids with steep gradients, big drops and pressure areas. Truly awe-inspiring.
When the river plunges 120 metres over the Victoria Falls into the basalt gorge below, which is only 40 metres wide, the resultant effect is thunderous and turbulent. As these waters make their way through the zig-zagging Batoka Gorge for the next 70 kilometres it creates some of the biggest and best white water action in the world through one of the great river corridors of the world. So be prepared to get wet!
Zambezi White Water Rafting
When entering the gorge to start your white knuckle ride, you will need to negotiate a steep path down into the gorge to a depth of 120 metres. At the exit point of the one-day trip, the gorge is approximately 230 metres deep with another steep incline to traverse out. In the first 24 kilometres of your ride, the river drops by about 120 metres with the rapids varying between 100 metres and 2 kilometres apart. These little periods of calm between the rapids allow you to appreciate the beauty of the basalt rock canyon you are traversing and chat about the rapid you have just experienced. The gradient to climb out of the gorge is 1 in 2 or 3 and will take approximately 20 minutes to walk if you are of average fitness.
The Zambezi River water levels change significantly throughout the year creating different seasons for the white water rafting. The differing rainfall throughout the seasons creates different rafting experiences so every year will be different. Lower water levels means higher thrill levels, as the water level drops, rocks get closer to the surface creating the white water that crashes through the gorge.
The “low water” run is between July and mid-February when the Zambezi River is at its low level. This is the most exciting time to do rafting with day trips running between rapids 1 and 18 over a distance of approximately 24 kilometres.
The “high water” run starts after the rains upstream have increased the rivers flow between February and July. The rising water and faster water flows means the day trips move downstream from rapids 11 to 23 covering an 18-kilometre run. The high water run is not as exciting as the low water run, so please take this into account if rafting is the main reason for your visit. Plan on coming between August and late December.
There may be a short closed season between the months of April and May depending on the season’s rainfall and how high the river is.
Zambezi Rafting Trips
There are many options available for Zambezi river rafting trips ranging from the single day and half day trips to expeditions lasting from a couple of nights up to a week out on the river. Take advantage of the expeditions if you have the time as the Zambezi is recognised by rafting enthusiasts as one of the top-ten paddling rivers on the planet!
The steep walls of the gorge are perfect for viewing bird life, with the turbulence in this part of the river the small crocodiles are not a serious threat, neither is bilharzia.
No previous experience is required and you do not need to be a proficient swimmer.
White Water Rafting at Victoria Falls is an exhilarating experience, but the gentler rafting trips are a wonderful experience and give an insight into nature and the rivers natural beauty.