White water rafting at Victoria Falls: A guide to having a good time

Recently, I went on an adventure through southern Africa. The last stop of the trip was in Zimbabwe. Victoria Falls to be specific. There is a lot to do there: like white water rafting at Victoria Falls on the Zambezi river!

White water rafting near Victoria Falls

To go rafting on the Zambezi is really an awesome experience. And since it’s a fun activity to do for the more adventurous travelers, there are plenty of companies offering you the option to join them.

I went white water rafting at Victoria Falls with Wild Horizons. Though there are a couple more options for you to book. I suggest it’s best to ask your hotel if they already work with a company and if they have extra information for you.

I am writing this article from my own experience. Which was cool! I do read the reviews online and there are enough unhappy people to recommend you to really consider if this is for you. As it can be daunting and frightening to some.

Most trips are about 7 hours (starting fairly early). But for the real adventurers there are multiple-day trips. If it’s your first time, I can suggest to keep it to a day. It’s really intens for the muscles. 😉

Best time for white water rafting at Victoria Falls

White Water Rafting by Angga Indratama via Unsplash
White Water Rafting by Angga Indratama via Unsplash

The Zambezi is a free-flowing river. This means there are no dams affecting it’s flow. Though, it is affected by the seasons.

For that reason the trips are different in the various seasons. In short though, there isn’t really a bist time for white water rafting in Victoria Falls… the best time is when you are there. 😇

What to wear when white water rafting in Victoria Falls

As it is a physical activity it’s best to make sure you take a couple of things with you. Though the guides will tell you in advance what you should definitely bring.

  • Bring proper shoes that allow you to walk comfortably but are also okay with getting wet
  • Bring waterproof sunscreen with you
  • Leave valuables at home: glasses, watches, anything that you can loose.
  • Don’t bring a camera!

A video about the experience

Video by Divergent Travelers

7 Tips for white water rafting at Victoria Falls

1. Don’t let the safety briefing in advance scare you off

White Water Rafting by Cynthia Andres via Unsplash
White Water Rafting by Cynthia Andres via Unsplash

As with flying, the crew will give you a briefing about safety. What to wear, what to look out for, and especially what to do in certain situations.

The situations they discuss almost all include you falling in the river. Some even speak of finding yourself underwater, stuck in a whirlpool (without jets, urgh), or stuck under the boat itself.

For me, it all sounded really scary. It played through my head to just call it quits and go home for the day. Luckily I powered through the fear. Because once you’ve done your first rapid, you feel you can take them all.

And yes, you will fall in the water. No, it’s not scary at all.

2. Bring decent shoes to walk on the rocks, but that can still get wet

To get to the boats, you will have to walk down the gorge. From the top where you get your safety briefing to the Zambezi river where the boats are waiting for you, it’s a 120m descent. It takes you a while to get down. So make sure to bring decent shoes.

However, once you’re down at the bottom, you will get in the boats and start your day. The shoes you are wearing are almost certainly becoming wet. I had a pair of running shoes on. They helped with the descent (and climb back up) and they survived to get wet without a sweat.

3. Eat enough energetic food in advance

White water rafting Julie Thornton via Unsplash
White water rafting Julie Thornton via Unsplash

You will start your day of early. So make sure to eat breakfast properly. Food that will give you energy for the day. Because not only is it hard walking up and down the gorge, you will be peddling. Intense peddling!

4. Bring sunscreen and remember to apply it on a more quiet stretch of water

This tip especially is one I wish I knew before going white water rafting in Victoria Falls. There will be a lot of sun, so protecting yourself is important. Applying sunscreen before you jump in your boat is a good idea. Give your bottle to your guide so he can keep it safe for you. If there is a stretch that is quiet for a while, ask him to give your bottle. Re-apply and give it back again.

A plus point for bringing waterproof sunscreen, since you will get wet!

5. Don’t panic if you fall out

Rafting by Kal Loftus via Unsplash

They will tell you this one during the safety briefing too. Whatever happens, don’t panic. Your life-jacket is made to bring you back to the surface easily, so don’t fight it if you find yourself in the water.

At one rapid the entire boat flipped. All eight of us went in the water. There were a couple of seconds that I was underwater. It even got dark because of the boat passing above me. However, I didn’t panic, and because of my life-jacket, I soon surfaced again.

I took a breather and just enjoyed flowing with the river. Yes, I did get some more splashes in my face. But that’s all part of the game. Just try to enjoy. Soon enough, okay it took a bit of swimming, I was back at the boat. Ready for the next rapid.

6. Remember to have a good time

It’s all very exciting at the start. It’s okay and normal to be nervous. Just make sure to ease into it a bit. Make sure you enjoy the water and the rapids at some point. Stay alert when going into the rapids and don’t get too courageous. But don’t do the entire trip in fear, it’s too much fun for that!

7. Don’t bring anything valuable with you

White water rafting by Rune Haugseng on Unsplash
White water rafting by Rune Haugseng on Unsplash

Don’t bring anything valuable with you. I’m thinking about cameras and smartphones, but also jewelry and glasses. Everything that you can lose, leave it at your lodge. One of the guides joked that the Zambezi river is one of the richest rivers. It has a lot of gold and technology on the bottom.

It’s a shame you can’t bring your camera and smartphone for photos. Most companies do offer photos they make during your trip for a fee. I rafted with Wild Horizons, who ask 30 dollars for a USB-stick with the photos. A bit much in my opinion. That’s also the reason the photos in the article are from Unsplash, and not by me. 😉

Have you ever gone white water rafting? What are your tips? Let me know in the comments!

Disclaimer: In this article are some affiliate links. This means that, if you buy or book something, I get a small percentage of the fee. This comes with no extra cost to you but helps me run this website.

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