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The Migthty Zambezi

ZIMBABWE | Tuesday, 8 December 2009 | Views [866] | Comments [6]

Rafting the mighty Zambezi is one of those once in a lifetime experiences. We didn’t even think we would do it. We didn’t go to Africa to whitewater raft or to do ridiculous Kiwi adrenaline things. We went to see wild animals and wild landscapes.   

But, a Scottish woman named Collette got us pumped up for it.

“you have to do the Zambezi, it’s just one of those things. Rafters the world around come here, it is big’.

Well, big it is. The highest graded rapid you can commercially do is a grade 5.

A grade 5 if you haven’t done rafting before is the equivalent of a 3m dumper sucking the sand off Sunshine Beach. A grade 5 can suck a raft under. It can hold you down for 10 seconds. Go on, count to 10, it’s a long time.

The Zambezi has 5 grade 5’s and the rest are 3’s and 4’s. It’s the highest concentration of goodness in the world.

These are serious rapids. They only run boats down 9 months a year. The other 3 months are high water, when the water can be 14m higher than when we went. One year a kayaker braved high water. In one section of whirlpools he was sucked under violently, and 9 minutes later they pulled his lifeless body out of the river.

6 to our boat.

Leon, Nunu, Rob, Kelly, Lauren and Andy. Plus our guide.

Another 4 boats from other people on our trip.

A flotilla heading down the river.

The other boats were less serious (competitive?) than ours, and as such they ate shit at a far greater level of consistency.

The first grade 4 we hit one boat got creamed and had 6 long swimmers hoping the crocs weren’t hanging around the rapids today.

We survived a couple of grade 5’s before we got to rapid 8 – Midnight Diner.

Our guide byu this stage wanted to show us the mighty Zambezi. He gave \us a choice here, to the right a grade 4, or through the middle a grade 5. He decided for us. And them some.

To the right of the right, the grade 5 actually became a 5 plus. This is where he took us.

Over one small wave


Over another wave


We couldn’t see what was coming, it was hidden by another small wave. Over that one and then we saw the ginning jaws of death.

The boat fell into the yawning gap that came before the wall of white water. This was not just a steep wave with a crest on top. This was a wall of whitewater 3 meters high. It just sucked the boat under. Bodies fell everywhere, helmets crashing into paddles and other helmets.

Nik popped up first next to the boat. 3 seconds she as under, not too bad but scary the hell enough.

I popped up 4 seconds later and about 50m further down the river. My first instinct was to make sure Nunu was up, and then to count the rest. We had all made it. I started laughing uncontrollably, FUCK YEAH,. What a rush!!  And another 2 grades 5’s to come!

Tags: rafting



Eric and Eyre held me under the hose for 2 minutes today, I was powerless to stop them...

  Donut Dom Dec 8, 2009 10:18 AM


I once sat for 10 seconds under the hose while having a beer. man that was tough. Sensational, sounds b exciting, anyone one brave enough to take photos?

  booce Dec 12, 2009 6:23 PM


what do you mean nunu popped up next to the boat and you popped up 50 metres further downstream? were you not actually in the boat? were you tied by ropes or something?

  heather Dec 13, 2009 9:47 PM


on the boat but not tied in, you could drown if you were tied to something. i guess i got into a much stornger undercurrent and gotr swept downstream, whereas Nunu probably hit a backcurrent that held her down but popped her up next to the boat. all scary nonetheless.

But that hose ordeal sounds much more terrifying!

  nik_and_leon Dec 17, 2009 7:24 PM


Strap the boat to ya boat, go up to Castle Rock, shoot some pigs.

  Ranger Stan Dec 18, 2009 6:16 PM


The truth is, when I find the gutless robot that wrote the first comment, I'm gunna cut them from ear to ear so that their bowels flop out and onto the 3 inch layer of bulldust that stalks the dry bed of Dumaresq.

  The Truth Dec 18, 2009 6:18 PM

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