Since I have rafted the Kicking Horse River in British Colombia and the Mountains of Northern Thailand, I thought why not try the Zambezi? Could it be that much harder? The answer is YES.
We are in high water season, so the first ten rapids were closed because they are too dangerous. This should have been an early warning for what was to come.
Our morning started with a quick safety brief, a bumpy off road drive and a treacherous 40 minute descent into the gorge on a ladder made from thin branches and rusty nails. Zambian safety standards have not yet caught up to medieval times, let alone the strict standards us North Americans are used to.
The rapids were definitely stronger than anything I had experienced before. You could see whirlpools forming almost the entire way down the river. Other than the raft flipping over on Rapid 13, a class 5 named “The Mother”, it was a very enjoyable and safe experience.
It was so enjoyable, that I had signed up for a second run down the river the very next day. The guides had told me that it was dangerous to bring my camera so I had left it behind. The promise of fantastic gorge photos also contributed to the decision of signing another waiver form. I would learn that that was probably one of the worst decisions I have ever made…