ZAMBIA (eTN) – The beauty of Zambia’s great Zambezi River attracts tourists from all over the world for a myriad of water activities. This mighty river has carved the spectacular Victoria Falls and Batoka Gorge, yet its beginnings are as humble as a spring that bubbles up between the roots of a tree in the Mwinilunga District.
From the Mwinilunga District, it travels through Angola and back into Zambia at the Cholwezi Rapids where it is fed by various tributaries. The Zambezi then passes through flat, sandy country and then into the more rocky countryside of the Ngonye Falls and rapids. It then turns east to form the border between Zambia and Namibia and eventually joins the Chobe River to form a border with Botswana.
For the next 500 kilometers it serves as the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, thundering over Victoria Falls and through the narrow, deep Batoka Gorge. From here it eventually flattens out at Gwembe Valley and flows into Kariba Dam. The damming of the river has created one of the world’s largest artificial lakes – Lake Kariba – which itself has several islands. From the dam wall, the river winds along, flanked by the Lower Zambezi National Park on its Zambia side, and Mana Pools National Park on the Zimbabwe side. The Zambezi River then flows into Mozambique and finally out into the Indian Ocean.
Along the way of this magnificent river, there are water activities, as well as activities that are rooted in the various spots of spectacular energy along this waterway. If it is a combination of water and exhilaration that you are looking for, there is whitewater rafting through Batoka Gorge where 23 whitewater rapids churn along a route that has carved the great Zambezi, or you may choose to take on the raging rapids with an experienced kayaker in tandem kayaking. For those wanting a bit more control, there are high-speed, jet-propelled boats to take you down the rapids. And if you want to get right into it, up close and personal, there are mega thrills to be found in river boarding the Zambezi rapids armed with a body board, wet suit, life jacket, helmet, and fins. In this activity, you can charge the rapids and surf some of the world’s biggest fresh water standing waves.
For those hoping to not get so wet, a steam train ride takes passengers over the Victoria Falls Bridge, and helicopter rides provide inspiring views of the falls from a vantage point like no other. But if you don’t mind getting just a little bit wet, then you can spend a day fishing, pitting your skills against the vivacious tiger fish and delicious bream, as well as various other fish on offer in the Zambezi River. Lake Tanganyika offers an annual fishing competition. And there are river safaris in quiet jet-propelled boats, as well as canoeing, that takes you to the remote parts of the upper Zambezi.
If you want to stay dry but still crave some heart-pumping action to go along with the raging Victoria Falls, consider abseiling and gorge swinging off the sheer cliff of Victoria Falls Gorge, or take a plunge off the Victoria Falls Bridge in the form of a 111-meter bungee jump.
And for those who don’t really want to get wet, but simply want to relax and have a good time, there are cruises on the upper Zambezi for breakfast, lunch, and sunsets – anything from a booze cruise to more luxurious, relaxed cruises. Boats pass the Mosi-oa-tunya National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where riders can glimpse hippos, crocodiles, elephants, giraffe, and more while sipping a favorite libation.
Another great way to relax on the water is to spend a couple of days on a houseboat on Lake Kariba. While the Zimbabwe side of the lake has hundreds of houseboats wafting about, on the Zambia side, the lake is not crowded, providing a serene and idyllic spot to simply unwind. Here, one may drift along the bank or over to the many islands in a luxury cruiser with a crew to serve you in style, or you may choose to take your own food, a boat load of friends, and party or just hang out together.
On a continent often thought of as being comprised of lands that are dry and sparse, it is a wonderful delight to discover all the water activities to be found and enjoyed in Zambia along the great Zambezi River.