We met our guides Michael and Bright at The Lookout Café. The venue is spectacular and the views give you a tantalizing taste of what’s to come. Our guides kitted us each with full body harness, pulley and safety helmet and there was plenty of laughter about the flattering fit of the harnesses!
We then walked a short distance to the first slide on the Victoria Falls Canopy Tour and our guides demonstrated how to slide on the cables and the safety procedures.
The Victoria Falls Canopy Tour offers everyone an exhilarating opportunity to soar through the rain forest in the Batoka Gorge with spectacular views of the mighty Zambezi River and the Victoria Falls Bridge. It is an unforgettable adventure as you slide from one platform to the next along a series of steel cables set amongst magnificent natural surroundings.
You are in another world from the moment you step off the first platform and slide through the tree-tops… there’s simply nothing to prepare you for the magnificence of the view across the gorge you glimpse as you first whizz across it. As you continue on the tour it appears that each slide offers something more and you can feel the groups’ confidence build.
At first some of us were very unsure and there was much nervous giggling but by the third slide whoops of sheer delight were reverberating through the gorge. We soon realize that with the combination of the safety line and the knowledge and expertise of Michael and Bright who are calm, confident and encouraging, we were totally safe.
All groups are escorted by a lead guide and safety guide at all times. The guides are friendly, professional and reassuring. Your safety is paramount and Wild Horizons have strict procedures in place to ensure that you are constantly connected to either the cable or the platform.
The scenery high up within the forest canopy is spectacular. We enjoyed spotting birdlife amongst the surrounding trees and canyon walls and were lucky enough to have a Verreaux’s eagle soaring above us and periodically landing in trees on the canyon wall to watch us inquisitively. I can only imagine he thought we were learning to fly! Each tour lasts between 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on how many people are in your group and the speed you choose to go. We had a much-needed cold drink as we walked out of the gorge still smiling from the adventure.
Next up was the Flying Fox. We were re-harnessed so that we were suspended from our backs. The Flying Fox consists of a cable over the width of the gorge and with the harness facing down you literally ‘fly’ through the air over the turmoil of the Zambezi below. With our confidence soaring from the Canopy Tour we all stepped off into the abyss. The view is unbelievable!
Similarly to the Canopy Tours escalation of excitement and adrenaline, so the order we did the other activities in scaled up in order of excitement. Accordingly we moved on to the Zip Line- this is an activity we chose to do in tandem. Our harnesses were re-adjusted and we were seated for the activity. The platform it leaves from offers an exciting view of what you are about to embark upon- a very steep descent that has you travelling at up to 105 km an hour whilst travelling across the gorge with the Zambezi below.
My friend perfectly described the feeling of hurtling downwards and across the gorge as a ‘rush of joy’!
The final and most adrenalin inducing activity is the Gorge Swing. Not for the faint of heart this includes a whopping 70 metre free-fall before you are ‘caught’ by the harness and begin swinging across the gorge. This is an incredible experience as you swing in a huge arc with the Zambezi churning below you. It’s impossible not to appreciate the feeling of hanging over the mighty Zambezi by a cord!
And suddenly we were done! Buoyed up by adrenaline and the indescribable feeling of feeling more alive we headed back to the Lookout Café for a celebratory beer. We were all thrilled at the end of a great day and the shared memories we had created.
- Wear comfortable clothing and closed-toe footwear. Open sandals are not suitable as they will simply fall off. Wear shorts or long pants and not a skirt as you will be in a harness. Running shoes are perfect and strap-on sandals will do.
- Take an easy to use camera with a strap that can attach around your neck or to your hand. There are plenty of great photo opportunities!
- The Canopy Tour experience is an excellent corporate and team building event.
- There is a safe box at The Lookout Café where you can leave your belongings and any valuables- however I suggest packing lightly.
Recently there has been strong concern over the apparent ‘drying up’ of the Victoria Falls- fuelled by sharing of the story on social media. An image taken in Zambia of the apparently dry Victoria Falls was widely circulated and purported to show the Falls as a whole.
However, the large fluctuation of the Zambezi River’s water levels are part of a normal annual occurrence. The huge variation at Victoria Falls is far more than in most of the world’s major waterfalls. The minimum flow, which occurs in November, is on average a mere tenth of the maximum April figure. Source- Wikipedia
Rough Guide to annual water levels showing the general trend of water levels in a typical year. (image courtesy Zambezi Helicopter Company).
This phenomenon means that viewing the waterfall at different times of the year produces vastly different experiences- and it’s definitely worth seeing both. In high flow the entire length of the Falls is a thundering wall of falling water whereas in low water the underlying structure can be seen and visibility is far better. Compare the images below of the Falls in October above and in May below.
The Victoria Falls in low flow
The Victoria Falls in high flow
The Zambezi river, upstream from the falls, experiences a rainy season from late November to early April, and a dry season the rest of the year. The river’s annual flood season is February to May with a peak in April.
The Zambezi River is at its lowest in approximately November or early December in most years. At times of low water the water of the Falls is concentrated mainly towards the Zimbabwean side as that side of the Falls is deeper. As the dry season takes effect up to half of the rocky face of the falls may become dry and the bottom of the First Gorge can be seen along most of its length.
The difference in flow at peak levels varies far more than the flow at low levels.
Currently in January 2016 we are about 15cm below the average water level of the Zambezi river at Victoria Falls at this time of the year. The river started rising on the 13/11/15 which is normal. Since Christmas the river has been rising 1/2cm a day.
In high flow the entire length of the Falls is a thundering wall of falling water. Compare the images below of the Falls in October above and in May below.
Below are some more images of the Falls in past years showing the vast difference in water levels that occur each year.
Zimbabwe’s hospitality & culture are legendary and sadly something many visitors miss experiencing. Adventure activities and wildlife watching are complimented greatly by meeting the country’s people and experiencing their culture.
There are opportunities to give back to those less fortunate in Zimbabwe. A humbling and eye-opening experience that gives you the opportunity to make a real difference while also encouraging a feeling of appreciation in those of us who have the time and money available to go on holiday. Whether you pay for an experience such as a village visit, choose to make a donation to a charity or simply spend time in one of Zimbabwe’s craft or food markets ensure you are also taking the time to stop and talk to Zimbabweans and find out about their lives, you won’t regret it.
- Cultural tourism in Zimbabwe is generally a very inexpensive option with costs often simply covering the expenses
- The proceeds from Cultural Tourism have a direct positive effect on the communities visited.
- These activities are fantastic learning experiences for both young and old making them a great option for families. During any of these, your children will likely get to meet and interact with local children while learning about their culture.
Some options on offer in Victoria Falls include:
A rural village tour: You get to visit rural homes, watch fields being tended and possibly get the chance to help in some of the day-to-day chores. Guests are able to gain an insight into Zimbabwean rural life and to see how vastly different it is from life in town- most rural Zimbabweans still practise subsistence farming, few have access to electricity or running water and life is at a far slower pace.
A township tour: The majority of people in Victoria Falls live in the Chinotimba township, which has a population of approximately 60 000 people. During this tour, guests will have an opportunity to observe township-life – from the oldest houses to the taverns, the local market and churches. During a visit to the Chinotimba Primary School clients are introduced to the school headmaster – he or someone assigned, will take the guests on a tour of the school.
A home hosted meal: The concept is a simple one; your host cooks and shares a traditional meal with you, at his or her place… I did this and you can read about my experience on a home hosted dinner here. It was a delightful evening and an experience I would recommend to anyone visiting Zimbabwe. The experience is so genuine. You have an interaction that is deceptively simple, yet somehow meaningful; the sharing of a meal.
The ‘Pay it forward Experience’ This is an experience where guests can really give back to the community, and enjoy a fun, challenging exploration of the markets and town of Victoria Falls. You choose an organization you would like to support from a list and are then given a “wish list” from the chosen charity. You then go on a mission to source the items before delivering them to your chosen charity and meeting the people benefiting from your donation.
* On these experiences guests are welcome to bring along second-hand clothing and footwear, stationery such as exercise books, crayons, pens, pencils, rulers, sharpeners, erasers etc as a donation should they wish to. These items can be invaluable in rural or disadvantaged schools and communities.
The one-day low water trip is considered to be the best one-day white water experience available in the world.
This will be one of those days that you will remember for the rest of your life. The intensity of rafting varies due to the fluctuating levels of water plunging through the gorges. On the whole, lower water levels means higher thrill levels and more rapids. As the water level drops, so the river follows the contours of the river bed more closely and the white water starts to really boil and crash through the gorge. Low water is generally from about August through to late December. However Rafting these grade of rapids at any time of the year is a thrilling experience and definitely not to be missed. It can also be a physically taxing activity so ensure you are prepared by eating before hand and taking the long walk out at the end slowly; take as many breaks as you need.
Right now Wild Horizons is offering a fantastic Low Water special.
‘White Water Madness’
Insanely Low Price- A full day of White Water Rafting with Wild Horizons for US$120 p/p
*excludes US$10 p/p River usage fee. *Valid for 2015
Why Travel with us?
Wild Horizons offers one-day rafting trips and take their safety seriously:
- Wild Horizons is the largest rafting operator in Victoria Falls, carrying the highest number of guests and to go with this they have an exemplary safety record.
- Each trip runs with a guide per boat and a trip leader for the group of boats. Each Trip Leader has 18 years or more of experience rafting. 18 years! That’s an amazing amount of experience and all of the guides under him have at least 6 years of rafting experience, basically all this adds up to you being in the best of care with guides who know how to have fun and keep you safe!
- Wild Horizons offers a hearty and healthy meal, as well as a great selection of cold drinks at the top of the gorge something you’ll appreciate after a day of rafting and the admittedly tough walk out at the end. Sit back enjoy the meal and enjoy the massive sense of accomplishment after the adrenaline high of rafting the mighty Zambezi.
Email email@example.com to book or visit the website to book.
What to Bring:
- Swimsuit and shorts but nothing that water will suck away
- A way to secure glasses to yourself or they will be lost
- T-shirt or long-sleeved shirt for sun protection
- Sunscreen and lip balm (guides will have dry bag for this)
- Sturdy shoes or sandals. Your shoes must be securely fitted to your feet (ie no flip-flops) or they will be lost!
- A sense of Adventure and the desire for fun!
See our previous posts on the 7 Wonders of Victoria Falls #1 Seeing the Falls & #2 A Highwire Activity
#1 See the Mighty Victoria Falls
The sheer power of the Zambezi water cascading over the cliff into the gorge below and sending sprays of water over the rainforest is spectacularly beautiful and restores an inherent love of nature. It is the awe that you feel seeing the power of Nature at its best. The views, the Rainbow ever-present, the humidity, the feel, it’s really breathtaking and a ‘must’ on any bucket list.
- The Zimbabwe side of the Falls offers the most impressive views of the Main Falls.
- No matter the time of the year you may get wet! It is hot in Zimbabwe so many find it refreshing but ensure your camera gear/ cellphone/passport is protected with a ziplock for wet areas and try not to wear anything that may become sheer.
- Bring water, the cost of water is more expensive on site than if you buy it else where before arriving.
- Wear good walking shoes, especially important for the wet areas that could be slippery.
- The walk back through the rainforest is beautiful but it is long! It’s a very relaxing walk with benches to stop at along the way and the path is nice and wide and smooth!
- Rainbows are cool. But what trumps rainbows? Moon-bows. If you visit Victoria Falls during a full moon, the light of the moon through the waterfall’s spray produces a lunar rainbow, or moon-bow.
- If you can afford it get a guide, they tell you so much about the History of the Falls and the surrounding Area than what you can figure out for yourself from just visiting.
Coming soon #2 on our list of the seven wonders of Victoria Falls: Raft the mighty Zambezi!