Southern Africa is home to some of the most picturesque, not to mention thrilling, white water rafting routes in the world. And what better a way to spend your time between a prior day’s game drive, and the following evening’s sundowners under the stars? Experience Africa at its finest as you journey down some of the most awe-inspiring rivers on the planet.
Can I go white water rafting on safari?
Of course! Southern Africa has some of the most picturesque white water rafting routes in the world. For those of us who are more experienced at the sport, low water seasons overlap with the peak safari season, when the lower water levels mean bigger rapids. Shallow waters during this season are closer to the rocks below the surface, resulting in a higher thrill factor for seasoned white water rafters. For those of us with a little less experience, the high water levels in the shoulder season offer a more intermediate challenge, featuring calmer waters and longer stretches for game-viewing between rapids.
Where are the best places to go white water rafting in Africa?
Although there are a number of beautiful rivers in Africa, very few consistently provide the ideal conditions for a white water rafting experience. Two locations stand out in particular: the Zambezi River (near the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe), and the Molenaars River (near Cape Town in South Africa). With sunny climates, stunning settings and warm waters, these two rivers offer the perfect conditions for white water rafting on safari. This is not to mention the up-close game viewing opportunities! Although both are stunning, we generally recommend the Zambezi rafting to our guests, due to its setting by the gorgeous Victoria Falls, as well as close proximity to other first-class safari activities in Livingstone.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
– White Water Rafting on the Zambezi River –
A trip to Southern Africa is simply incomplete without a stop along the Zambezi River. After it makes its 120m plunge over the spectacular Victoria Falls, the warm waters of the river form the perfect conditions for white water rafting excursions. This legendary river is home to some of the best rapids in the world, and with a variety of levels to suit both intermediate and advanced rafters. For the more experienced at the sport, it offers the thrill of the ‘Oblivion’, ‘Stairway to Heaven’, ‘Judgment Day’, ‘Devil’s Toilet Bowl’, ‘The Terminator’ and the beast known as ‘Morning Glory’. These have been cited as some of the most coveted Grade 5 rapids in the world. Paired with the incredible animal sighting opportunities (with plenty of crocodiles and hippos along the shoreline), a white water rafting experience along the Zambezi has proven a top highlight of many of our guests’ trips to Africa.
Class IV – V
Minimum age: 15 years old (slightly younger children, of the appropriate maturity and size to fit a life jacket securely, may be accepted at the discretion of management).
Maximum age: There is no maximum age limit; however, guides may refuse to take a client that is clearly unable to cope with the rigours of rafting, or ascending/descending the gorge steps if necessary.
All guests are provided with safety instructions prior to the trip, as well as a helmet and life jacket. We only ever work with professional operators who adhere to the highest of standards in safety.
You can opt for either an oar boat or a paddle boat. An oar boat has a mounted aluminium frame, from which an oarsman controls the raft and guides the group through the rapids. Your main job will be hanging on through the bigger waves! A paddle boat provides a more hands-on experience. It does not have an internal frame, and guests are provided with a paddle with which they guide the journey of the raft (as according to instructions from their guide). This is definitely a more physically exertive activity!
Guests began their rafting journey shortly after 7am, following a short drive to the river gorge and a thorough safety talk. After the 6.5 – 7 hour day trip, guests finish with a short walk through the Batoka gorge, ending with a final ascent to the top. Guests frequently follow this experience with lunch and another activity around the Victoria Falls area.
Slight fluctuations may occur due to rainfall levels each year, so speak to our travel consultants about current seasonal projects for your safari.
High water season (novice – intermediate):
January to early-March and May to July (when the water levels are just right) each year.
Trip length: 6.5 hours.
High water trips begin at rapid #11 and finish after rapid #23. This is a somewhat calmer season in which to experience the pleasure of rafting down the Zambezi, and is a slightly shorter day trip than the low water season excursion. Guests have plenty of time between smaller rapids to chat amongst themselves, enjoy the stunning scenery of the Batoka gorge, and take in the wildlife coming to drink from the river.
Low water season (intermediate – expert):
August to December each year.
Trip length: 7 hours.
Low water trips begin at rapid #1 (just below the Victoria Falls) and finish after rapid #19. These are a significantly bumpier ride and not for the faint for heart! A fantastic thrillseeker’s experience, not to mention visually stunning: this trip begins from the rapids near the base of the Victoria Falls itself.