During the course of a week based out of Livingstone, Zambia, we’ll paddle on the spectacular Zambezi River in the Batoka Gorge below Victoria Falls. A total of 5 raft-supported paddling days will be divided into 2 days on the classic “one day” section, before embarking on a 3 day multi-day trip, camping twice in the gorge. We’ll then spend 1 day as tourists, packing up, buying souvenirs, and enjoying our final dinner on a Sunset Cruise above Victoria Falls. After a final breakfast, we’ll get you to the airport or help get you organized should you decide to stay longer. Steve Fisher and a team of world-class paddlers will be your hosts, showing you down the river and coaching you along the way. If you have solid roll, you’re ready to paddle the Zambezi with these guys, so read on! Email Us if you’re concerned - Steve lived on the Zambezi for many years and can answer any questions that you might have. Airfare is not included, but all in-country food, lodging and logistics will be covered by us.
WE CAN’T WAIT TO SHARE ONE OF OUR FAVORITE PLACES ON EARTH WITH YOU!
South African, Steve Fisher, first lived on the Zambezi for 5 years working as a raft guide and safety kayaker, and has returned more than a dozen times since. Few people know this river and surrounding area as well as he does. In addition to a seasoned Zambezi raft guide, we will add additional instructors depending on group size, keeping our guide to student ratio extremely low. We’re here to be your guides and to host your trip, but we’re also here to provide world class coaching to help improve your skills. With the combination of our curriculum and this location, we guarantee that you will learn more during this week than any other week of your paddling career to date.
THE ZAMBEZI RIVER REMAINS STEVE FISHER’S FAVORITE RIVER AND HE CAN’T WAIT TO SHOW YOU THE LINES!
- Airport shuttles and all river logistics.
- 5 days guided kayaking and coaching: 2 single days and a 3-day raft supported multi-day.
- Five nights accommodation in Livingstone and 2 nights raft supported camping in the Batoka Gorge.
- All meals, including a scenic BBQ overlooking Rapid # 7 from the top of the gorge.
- Hired porters to carry kayaks and gear in and out of the gorge.
- River access park fees.
- Extra activities like a village tour, African market visit, photography tips with Steve, and Vundu fishing at multi-day camp spots.
- Sunset Cruise and dinner with open bar on the Upper Zambezi.
Most flights land in Livingstone around midday. We will host you from Sunday the 11th until Sunday the 18th.
Meet and greet, unpack, swim, rest, dinner at the Zambezi Waterfront.
Kayak rapids 1-25: get to know the river; traditional dinner in Livingstone.
Kayak rapids 1-13: coaching focused day; BBQ overlooking the Gorge.
Wednesday - Friday:
Multi-day trip with camping at rapids 9 and 25. Shorter distances each day allow for more coaching, and repeat runs of key rapids.
Village tour, African market, pool, pack up and Sunset Cruise on the Upper Zambezi.
Final breakfast and departure. IF YOU WISH TO ARRIVE EARLY OR DEPART LATER, WE CAN PROVIDE ADDITIONAL RESOURCES TO HELP YOU PLAN THE REST OF YOUR TRIP!
Air travel is not included. Your destination is Livingstone International Airport. We like to use South African Airways via Johannesburg and recommend Hipmunk and Google Flights for booking. There are also good options via Europe and Nairobi, Kenya. We like to start our journey at major hubs, such as JFK, which are better at accepting kayaks. Most flights arrive and depart from Livingstone between 11am and 2pm. If you arrive on the 11th, you will be picked up at the airport and transported to Fawlty Towers, where we’ll be staying. If you would like to arrive before the 11th, taxis are easy, safe and affordable and we can even help connect you to a driver. On the 18th, we’ll provide transportation to the airport. If you wish to stay on longer, we can help advise you on activities and connect you to local outfitters in the area.
Whenever we visit Zambia, we choose to stay at Fawlty Towers in downtown Livingstone. It’s secure, comfortable and convenient. The gated grounds are directly across the street from the grocery store, pharmacy, ATM, restaurants and other amenities. We happen to think that this is a better way to experience Zambian culture than at some of the high-end lodges out of town. The grounds are lush, shaded by mango trees, and come with Wifi access, a communal kitchen, a swimming pool, bar and laundry services. We’ll be sleeping in shared, en-suite rooms with other members of the crew. Although rooms do not have air conditioning, they are cooled by fans at night. There are “deluxe” air conditioned rooms that you can request with an up-charge.
We ask that you bring your own kayak and paddling gear. Mostly we want you to be in the boat that you are most comfortable in. Although it is possible to rent boats locally, the daily fee is high and you’re fully responsible for the cost of the boat if you break it. So, we strongly urge that you make every effort possible to get your kayak on the plane. It’s hot, so no need for a dry top. We will be providing all camping equipment for the multi-day trip, but if you prefer your own tent and/or sleeping bag, by all means bring that along. Bring other obvious items like, sunscreen (plenty), bug repellent, and a headlamp. Off the river, you’ll mostly hang out in flip flops and shorts. For woman, it is culturally acceptable to wear typical summer activewear. For the river, you’ll need decent footwear to hike in and out of the gorge. Avoid neoprene socks - it will be hot!
We will be providing all meals from dinner on the 11th through breakfast on the 18th. The communal kitchen will be stocked with breakfast foods for people to help themselves to each morning and lunch will be deli style sandwiches and wraps on the river. Dinners will be at local restaurants (with a variety of traditional African fare as well as Western style meals), a BBQ overlooking the gorge, and we’ll cook up big feasts on the multi-day. The last dinner is on the Sunset Cruise, which also includes open bar. Beers and soft drinks at the takeout. Special diets can be accommodated for. We do suggest bringing your favorite energy bar or river snack with you, though there is a grocery store with decent options.
The Zambezi lends itself to all levels of paddler, and rafting clients swim down these rapids everyday. Benny Marr, Steve Fisher and seasoned Zambezi raft guides will help you choose the right lines for your ability. Along with food and drink, the raft will carry a satellite phone, first aid kit, and we have access to land and air support if necessary.
Obviously, you have questions related to malaria and vaccinations. We have addressed specifics related to this in the FAQ section. We’re also happy to provide further guidance once you’ve booked your trip. Tap water is not suitable for drinking, but we will have access to plenty of clean, bottled water throughout the trip. Zambia is a peaceful, stable country and, although petty theft does exist, our accommodations are gated and we’ve never had an issue.
1. Am I good enough to kayak the Zambezi?
If you have a somewhat solid roll, you can kayak the Zambezi - We’ve taught people to paddle from scratch here - yes, their first ever river! At the same time, it’s the perfect river for even top paddlers to push themselves. Along with short, warm, high volume rapids that end in flat pools, lines range from wide open raft lines, to technical moves around the fringes. Furthermore, a variety of access points and open portage routes leave us plenty of options for bringing less experienced paddlers on this trip: After booking your trip, Steve will chat with you to establish your level of experience. Generally speaking, the Zambezi is steeper and more intense near the top of the gorge with easier rapids on the lower half. On day one, the more experienced paddlers will start at Rapid #1 and bomb down to meet the less experienced paddlers at Rapid #10 and the whole group will move together with a raft down to rapid #25. On day two, those who are confident start at rapid #1 again and meet the rest of the group at rapid #6. Shaky paddlers will then portage 7 and 9 as we head down through rapid #13 (a slower paced day more focused on coaching). On day three we all start at rapid #1 with the raft. We start by enjoying the boiling pot at the base of the falls and take all day to get the whole group to rapid #9. There will be plenty of time to scout, portage, ride on the raft or lap certain rapids multiple times as you search for that Dreamline! On day four we run rapids 10 - 25, camp the night and then enter a new section all the way down to “Damsite” on day five. So as you can tell, we have a solid game plan for catering to mixed level paddlers. We’ve done this before, it worked very well, and last year we even guided Lonnie Bedwell through his successful run of the entire river - He’s blind!
2. I’m a pretty solid paddler, will I be held back by other group members?
We’re very conscious of the idea that stronger paddlers could feel left out or held back as we deal with beginners. To avoid this, we immediately split the group’s itinerary as outlined in the question above. In addition to better paddlers getting some alone time running the big stuff with Benny and Steve, the coaches will alternate their focus between two groups so that as one is helping a swimmer to pick up their pieces, the other continues to coach the better paddlers. There is more to learn on the Zambezi than we could possibly teach you in a week, so rest assured, you will leave with a minor case of information overload, and you will have run lines that you never thought possible. With a 1:3 maximum guide to paddler ratio and a wealth of experience in this team, we are certain that you will push yourself and learn a lot.
3. How many other guests will be on this trip? And how many instructors?
This trip is intended to be a small group with plenty of attention from your instructors. At a minimum, your hosts will be Steve Fisher and two other kayakers, and a Zambezi raft guide. We’re hoping for 9 booked paddlers. The highest possible guide to paddler ratio will be 4 guides to 10 paddlers.
4. What about Malaria and other vaccinations?
Although Malaria has been less prevalent in Livingstone over the years, it is still a concern. The best prevention is to avoid being bitten by mosquitos, so bring long pants for the evening and bug spray. Mosquito nets and fans are provided for sleeping. If you wish to take a prophylactic, we like to use Malarone. Consult your doctor or public health office. Here is a link for the CDC page for travel to Zambia:
5. Are the Hippos and Crocodiles on the Zambezi?
Most Hippos and Crocs live upstream of Victoria Falls. There are no hippos in the gorge below the falls. Occasionally small crocs wash over the falls and survive for a while within the gorge, feeding on fish since there isn’t much other food available. As they start to outgrow their fish only diet they then head off way downstream beyond the gorge in search of more substantial prey. When we see crocs in the gorge, they’re quite small and we consider ourselves pretty lucky to have seen them. The local raft guides are most in tune with their whereabouts so we’ll be checking in with them before the start of our trip.
6. What happens if I get injured or sick?
Because of rafting operations on the Zambezi, there is a robust evacuation plan throughout the gorge, which includes helicopter access nearby. There is a local hospital in Livingstone as well as an international hospital. There are numerous well qualified doctors in town and multiple, well stocked pharmacies that don’t require prescriptions and are staffed by medically trained pharmacists. We do recommend that you have travel insurance or a domestic insurance plan with international coverage. Check with your insurance company on this.
7. What about drinking water?
Tap water in Livingstone is treated and suitable for bathing and washing dishes. It is not recommended for drinking water. There is plenty of bottled water available at the grocery store and we will be providing bottled water on the river.
8. How much money and what currency should I bring?
While we’ll be covering your major expenses, you will want to purchase things like souvenirs, a few extra beers, snacks, etc. The local currency is the Zambian Kwacha. You can easily change US dollars, British pounds and Canadian dollars, but there are ATMs where you can use a debit card so long as it is a Visa or Mastercard. This is the best way to get money while you are in country, but we do recommend arriving with some cash on hand. Some places accept credit cards, but expect cash transactions throughout your stay.
9. Do I need a visa for Zambia?
Visas will be issued at the port of entry, in most cases this will be at the airport. Ask for a single entry visa, which will cost you $50 USD cash. You will most likely be asked for the address for where you will be staying: 216 Mosi O Tunya Road, Livingstone, Zambia.
10. Besides Kayaking, what else is there to do in Livingstone?
During the week you are with us, our schedule will be pretty full with kayaking. We will, however, take time to look at Victoria Falls, do a village tour, visit the market and take a Sunset Cruise on the Upper Zambezi. If you wish to stay on, there are plenty of other tourist activities to be had: bungee jumping, Gorge Swing, Horseback rides or a safari. We’re glad to advise and help connect you with resources for your trip. A good starting point for booking activities is Fawlty Towers, where we’ll be staying: http://adventure-africa.com