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Great game viewing aside, Zimbabwe, and in particular Victoria Falls, has been on the Overlanding map for decades due to the country’s wide range of activities. Some of these Zimbabwe activities are some of the most exciting white-knuckle rides you’ll do in your life, others more pedestrian, but all deliver an unforgettable African experience.
It’s one of Victoria Falls’ iconic experiences: a leap into thin air from the sturdy railway bridge that joins Zimbabwe and Zambia - your destination? The bottom of Batoka Gorge over 100 metres below.
At 111 metres it was until recently, the highest bungee jump in the world. In Africa, the Bloukrans Bridge bungee on South Africa’s Garden Route superseded it at a whopping 217 metres and now the Macau Tower in China at a mind-numbing 233 metres. Still, the Vic Falls bridge jump, with the spectacular backdrop of the Victoria Falls themselves, is hugely popular and tens of thousands of people have jumped to date - all of them safely.
So what are you waiting for? 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…bungee!
Considered one of the best stretches of accessible white-water in the world, the Zambezi is THE place to go for some top class river rafting. The adrenaline junkie will get a wild roller coaster ride on the series of 23 foamy rapids that stretch from the bottom of the Victoria Falls for 22km - most of the rapids are graded either 4 or 5 - and you don’t get any bigger!
Low water runs are the most adventurous and generally operate from mid August to late December. High water runs only traverse rapids 11 to 18 from beginning of July to mid August, and are unlikely to spill you out the raft.
A canoeing safari on the calm waters of the upper Zambezi River is a wonderful leisurely way to enjoy the astonishingly beautiful scenery that lines the river before it takes its plunge over the Victoria Falls.
This part of the river is flanked by national parks on both sides and is an enchanting labyrinth of small islands and sandbars, home to many birds and animals as well as graceful riverine trees and dense, almost tropical vegetation. Sit back in your comfortable two-man canoe and let the river carry you along. Expert guides accompany every trip both for your safety and to provide a wealth of knowledge on the flora and fauna.
The relative silence of travelling by canoe enables superb game viewing and interaction with the wild at nature’s pace. There’s good opportunity for some close-up encounters with a variety of wildlife, including elephant, buffalo, hippo and crocodile, and the bird watching is excellent.
Who said surfing was only for ocean-goers? Armed with a wetsuit, life jacket, helmet and fins, you can surf some of the world’s biggest freshwater rapids on a river board on the Zambezi.
It’s a bit like white-water rafting but the main difference between river boarding and rafting is that you are in charge of your own board on the river. The attraction is the physical freedom and the sense of achievement of tackling the mighty Zambezi on your own. You must be confident and relaxed in water, and you’ll need to be a strong swimmer.
The best time to go river boarding is during low water season from mid August to late December when the river is at its roughest. There are half-day and full-day trips, or river boarding and rafting combinations where you get to experience the rapids in 2 different but equally thrilling ways.
An elephant-back safari is not just a ride on the largest animal in Africa, it’s an unforgettable experience: you interact with the elephants as well as enjoy a ride through the bush.
The trip starts with an educational and safety talk, after which you are introduced to the elephants and their ‘Ndunas’, or handlers. Getting onto the elephant involves climbing an elephant-height frame and hopping on behind the handler.
The elephants amble through the bush for around two hours and it’s a great way to see other wildlife through the eyes of an elephant and to view the elephant’s behaviour at very close quarters. Each elephant’s handler has a wealth of knowledge about these magnificent mammals from their own first-hand experience. A armed and qualified guide also accompanies your safari on foot.
After the ride there is more interaction time with the elephants and you’ll have the opportunity to touch their tails or eyelashes, hand out ellie-treats and see baby jumbos being fed.
There’s no doubt about it: the best views of Victoria Falls and the winding gorges of the Zambezi River are from the air, and the best time to fly over the 1.7 km-wide falls is when the spray is at its highest. From April to June the falls are at their peak and the massive volume of water makes its own spectacular rainbows.
These breathtaking flights over the Victoria Falls are often dubbed ‘Flight of the Angels’ after the explorer David Livingstone’s words, ‘Scenes so beautiful ... must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight’.
Gorge Swing & Abseils
It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing ... the Zambezi Swing, set up across the top of the Bakota Gorge, was the world’s first cable gorge swing. One hundred and thirty five metres of cable spans the top of the 75 metre high gorge which has a sliding pulley system hanging from it.
Once firmly attached in a full body harness, you’ll need to take a deep breath before taking a running jump from a wooden platform and plunging for a heart-in-the-mouth 50 metres, before being swung out into the middle of the gorge. The jump ends with several pendulum swings before you are lowered to the ground.
The flying fox is an alternative to the swing. It’s a cable slide that sends you coasting smoothly across to the other side of the spectacular gorge. Then there is the 53 metre abseil, backwards or ‘rap’ jump, facing forward.