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White Water Rafting in Victoria Falls

By Ilala Lodge on October 13, 2016

The Zambezi River in Zimbabwe boasts the world’s best and most thrilling one-day white water rafting. Just below the Victoria Falls, 24 fearsome rapids have been formed in a deep channelled, high volume stretch of river that winds its ways through the spectacular Batoka Gorge.

Commercial rafting first commenced in 1981, and has since become one of the most popular activities in Victoria Falls. Here, we outline everything you need to know before planning your Victoria Falls white water rafting adventure.

zambezi river white water rafting
The Rapids

The formidable rapids making up this section of the Zambezi River range from Grade III to Grade V, ensuring a fierce and unforgettable ride. To give you some point of comparison, Grade V is the highest possible commercial grading, as a result of its length and overall difficulty. During the low-water season, the river offers some of the best Grade V rapids in the world – six all in all.

Categorised as Grade III or IV, rapids such as Oblivion, Stairway to Heaven, The Mother, The Terminator and The Gnashing Jaws of Death are as tough as they sound, offering up a significant challenge. Others, such as Gullivers Travels, Creamy White Buttocks, and The 3 Ugly Sisters, merely offer up a relaxed paddle and some incredible photo opportunities.

white water rafting victoria falls
Three of the rapids along this section of the Zambezi River are classified as Grade VI, and are therefore, unrunnable: Commercial Suicide, Lower Moemba and Chabango Falls. To avoid these rapids, guides and rafters carry the boat along the edge of the gorge.
While it is possible to run the Zambezi River without flipping your raft, it’ not common – it is a powerful, large volume, fast-moving river that presents a fun, and yet challenging experience. What’s more, tumbling into the water is half the fun when you’re under the care of such skilled and experienced river guides.

zambezi river
The Best Time of Year for White Water Rafting

The intensity of the rapids in Victoria Falls is directly determined by the water level of the Zambezi River. Simply put, when the water levels are low, between September and December each year, the experience is more exhilarating, and controlling the raft is much more difficult. This is due to the fact that rocks are positioned closer to the surface. If you’re booking your trip to Victoria Falls with a white water rafting trip in mind, do so now, during the Low Water Season for the most exciting experience.

victoria falls activities
During particular times of the year, when an extremely high volume of water makes its way through the Batoka Gorge, white water rafting is deemed to be unsafe. Customarily, the closed period for rafting lasts from April – June, but this varies each year with the rains, so make a note to check before your trip!

The Small Print

No previous experience is required for white water rafting in Victoria Falls, and you don’t need to be a proficient swimmer either. However, at the end of the each rafting trip, participants have to navigate a steep 250m climb out of the gorge, which requires a reasonable level of fitness. This is important to keep in mind when planning a list of things to do in Victoria Falls.

things to do in victoria falls
What to Bring:

•    Swimsuit and/or swim shorts
•    Sunscreen
•    Sturdy sandals or shoes
•    Water bottle & carabiner for securing the water bottle to the boat
•    T-Shirt/long-sleeved shirt
•    Go-Pro (optional – but encouraged!)

Few experiences are more memorable than spending the day battling the iconic Zambezi River rapids, so what are you waiting for? Simply email reservations@ilalalodge.co.zw or call +263(13) 44737/8/9 to book your Victoria Falls white water rafting trip with Ilala Lodge, today!

Image Credits: (in order) kasia wallis, carine06, kasia wallis, jon rawlinson, david holt, christopher jensen

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