Say It Ain’t So: Zambezi River’s Batoka Gorge Threatened By Dam


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Now it’s getting personal. As if losing the awesome whitewater on Uganda’s White Nile wasn’t enough, now dam-makers have their sites set on Africa’s famed Zambezi River, one of the best whitewater days trips in the world.

The Zambezi River is acclaimed as the “wildest one-day whitewater run in the World,” regarded by whitewater rafters as one of the top ten paddling rivers on the planet. With commercial rafting starting on the Zambezi in 1981, t’snow grown into  a multi-million business, for good reason: it has some of the best rapids for rafting, and kayaking, anywhere.

The stretch cuts through a basalt gorge below Victoria Falls, requiring a 500-vertical-foot hike to enter and exit. Measuring a whopping 200 feet deep in places, the river drops by about 400 feet in its first 15 miles, with its rapids coming as quickly as a football field apart.

Now it’s threatened. The International Rafting Federation, which has staged several World Championships on the run, reports that plans are underway to recommence the building of a dam in the Batoka Gorge. If completed, it would wipe out the major whitewater section from the base of Victoria Falls, destroying the livelihoods of those who live and work on the river, the villages that rely on tourism and the local plants and wildlife.

The International Rafting Federation is taking the lead on this campaign with full support and backing from International RiversSave The Zambezi and local companies.

At this stage it is encouraging those interested in saving the Zambezi to sign up as an interested party for the consultation and also to contribute any funds to assist in the campaign’s administration.

Donate/Find More Info Here:

Watch video footage here:

Zambezi River – Day Trip Rapid Guide

Following is breakdown of the rapids which might get lost.

The Boiling Pot

A wonderful place to look at Victoria Falls from. Rafts or kayaks must be carried up here, but the view makes the effort well worthwhile.

The Wall, Rapid 1

A large cushion wave as the Zambezi River goes into a large wall. I relatively simple move by paddling your raft across the wavetrain heading for the wall. Your guide is likely to train you well in the art of “high siding” in case you approach the wall, this will stop you flipping.

The Bridge, Rapid 2

Some fantastic waves coming off the left wall and a large hole on the right side of the river. In a raft, no problems. Watch the bungy jumpers above you!

Morning Glory, Rapid 4

The first big rapid of the day. Depending on water levels you will have the option of running left, right or the “Dragons Back” disecting two large holes. A brilliant rapid to start the day ending in a large crashing wave at the bottom of the rapid.

Stairway to Heaven, Rapid 5

Our first Grade 5 rapid. On the right side of the river is a large pourover. We line up with waves just to the left of this. Running too far left will send us into the “catchers mitt” a large crashing wave. Running 5 is like dropping off a 2 storey building and is one of the greatest river running rushes anywhere in the world.

The Devils Toilet Bowl, Rapid 6

A straight forward run through two large waves, both of which must be run straight. This takes us into a very scenic section of the river through a stunning gorge.

Gullivers Travels, Rapid 7

The longest of all the rapids on the Zambezi. Initially we paddle right of indicator rock, and then onto “The Green Highway” where we set up to paddle through Directors Wave and away from The Crease a large hole in the centre of the river. Here we paddle down into Land Of The Giants for an amazing finale to this Grade 5 rapid.

The Midnight Diner, Rapid 8

An awesome Zambezi big water rapid. Three potential lines. On the right side is a fun technical run with large bouncy waves. In the middle, a run known as “the Muncher” where the raft will run a large wave, or to the left of centre into “Star Trek” for a big hit!

Commercial Suicide, Rapid 9

All clients and guides walk this Grade 6 rapid. This is a ferocious rapid, with many hidden dangers and is not commercially viable.

The Gnashing Jaws Of Death, Rapid 10

Nowhere near as sacry as the name! A series of waves which buffet the raft in what is a relatively straight forward rapid. At this point, can be lunch, camp or the start of your trip.

Creamy White Buttocks, Rapid 11

A stunning rapid. At high flows Creamy White Buttocks or The Overland Truck Eater is a tubing wave where kayakers and surfers can surf it’s green face. At lower flows two large waves will crash over your raft from the right side. Spectacular photos here!

The 3 Ugly Sisters, Rapids 12A, 12B and 12C

Relatively sraight forward series of rapids. 12 B can be the hardest at certain flows when a large green wave forms. It can get chunkier toward the river left side of the rapid. These 3 rapids lead into …

The Mother, Rapid 13

This rapid is classic big water Zambezi. Caused by a constriction in water flow, the first and 4th waves in The Mother are massive. The first wave is a peaking crest of 2 converging waves. A clean wash out into a large flat pool.

The Washing Machine, Rapid 15

A series of waves leading down into a large hole. This is best avoided and can easily be, with strong paddling normally down the right side of the rapid.

Terminator I & II, Rapids 16A & 16B

These rapids are mush bigger in high water. In the traditional low water runs they are fairly straight forward. 16 A involves running left or right of the island, whilst 16B is a wave train which can be quite large at high levels.

Double Trouble, Rapid 17

A similar rapid to The Washing Machine. Two large holes situated in the middle of the river. These can be safely run at medium to high flows. When the river drops lower they should be avoided on river left or right.

Oblivion, Rapid 18

The world famous rapid. This tends to be at its best in low flows September – November. It consists of three large waves, of which the third is the biggest (and best!) Many rafts flip here although it is VERY easy not to.

Morning Shave, Rapid 23

After camping at Bobo Camp, this is the perfect wake up call. On centre left of the rapid, there is an easy wavetrain to wet you down.

Morning Shower, Rapid 24

This rapid takes in a right hand bend in the river with the waves and river pushing hard to the left. Keep right for an awesome ride through the tail waves.




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