Rafting, abseil and gorge swing

Trip Start Jan 10, 2005
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Trip End Feb 15, 2005


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Monday, February 7, 2005

The advice I can offer regarding the Falls...bring a waterproof camera! It was yet another hot day in Africa and we were left to explore the Victoria Falls for one hour. Contrary to the highly commercialized and overcrowded Niagara Falls, the Vic Falls is void of sky-high motels, hot dog vendors and paycheck-stealing parking lot fiascos. A market lines the roadway and monkeys play, clean and relax beside cars.
We began the walk adjacent to the falls; It started with a a light mist. Within a few seconds our path veered 2 metres closer to the falls and a shower of rain poured onto us.
Nothing but smiles can be seen on the faces of visitors as they cross the bridge over the gorge and attempt to grasp the sheer power and beauty of Victoria Falls.
We ran through the rain, admiring the bold rock emerging from the top of the Falls, cutting the water forming many cascades collapsing into one. It is not a sheet of massive water that makes Vic Falls one of the seven wonders of the world but deafening volumes of water gushing over and between rock with rainbows and churning water at its' base that sets this amazing display of power apart from others. The fact that it's in Africa might help as well.

After arriving at our campgrounds forcing a rugged survival of lazy pool days, a beautiful rrestaurant, friendly security staff and gorgeous grounds, we were hearded to the boat about to take us on a 3 hour sunset cruise. Not only were free drinks and food included but a crocodile, family of hippos and a scampering line of monkeys were all spotted only meters from the boat. Our fabulous evening of food, conversation and animal sightings finished with our servers serenading us in African song and dance. These people were made to sing.

Sunday was a day of endless laughter, angry waters and pain-producing stair-climbing. After sitting in on our safety lesson the 30(ish) group of backpackers and travellors were ushered onto one of two massive safari trucks by the staff of Safari Par Excellence. The trucks took us down jolting dirt paths towards the top of the cliffs. Below on the Zambezi River, river guides began the proces of inflating the four boats. We began the ordeal of scrambling over rocks, both solid and loose pebbles and down breaking logs nailed together to resemble some form of ladder. Somehow, with paddles, lifejackets and helmets in tow, the entire entourage successfully arrived on the rocks, ready to white water raft the Zambezi River.
I am proud to say I was the only girl who went river boarding and only one of four who signed up. My introduction to a boogie board on rapids was the four consecutive rapids #12 a, b, c, d, graded class IV this time of year. Splashing down into the 27C water off the big yellow raft, I attempted to stick to either the center, or enter the rapid from the left or right, whichever way we were supposed to approach the swirling currents. We're TOLD to kick in a certain direction but the waves take you wherever they please. What an incredible appreciation for the power of this river I have since being thrashed about at her leisure like a hand puppet, victim to a violent master.
I can now proudly say I've riverboarded and rafted on rapids with names such as "washing machine", "double trouble" and "terminator I and II" respectively. Kevan can claim rafting to his name but the chicken can't add river boarding :)

After our awesome day (with yet another gruelling climb to the top of the gorge) it requires no thought that a white water rafting trip on the Zambezi is another candidate for the Must Do list.
1. travel by minibus
2. explore a township
3. white water raft the Zambezi

Monday morning Kevan was signed up for abseiling, the flying gox and a gorge swing.
I tagged along to take pictures. Apparently, there were other plans in store for me. He rappeled down the 53 m cliff face-first, then made his way to the "flying fox" - a cable car suspended between the two cliffs overlooking the Zambezi. On his last two trips flying accross the gorge, the harness was changed to ensure he flew over the chasm, facing down with arms spread out like superman. I've been told it was incredible.
Lastly, came the gorge swing. Stepping off forwards, his body fell at a rate of 140 km/h until his fall was broken by the length of the rope stoping his plummet and swinging him from one rock face to another.
I believe this next part was the result of intricate details and scheming.

Tandom Gorge Swing.

The instructors were rather keen on it, so was Kevan. I thought my refusal had been sufficient until one instructor said "I've told them to set it up for tandom" and follwed with "come and sign the jump book now."
Great. My dream come true. Subject myself to the strength of rope threads and provide entertainment for the entire crew of "Abseil Zambia."

Sooner than I'd hoped I was in two harnesses; my heels with no land underneath. We were told to lean back and we'd be 'released' when ready. Funny when no one holds your rope and you're leaning back. There's no second thoughts when you suddenly start falling and a rate of 180 km/h (faster with combined weight.)
The most unfortunate part about this whole experience is that I actually LIKED the gorge swing. This mere admission prevents me from milking it for all its' worth - no extra clothes, no free meals...But all was completed with no regrets!

From the smoke that thunders...
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