Wednesday, 26 August 2009

The Mighty Zambezi

The Mighty Zambezi, known to be one of the best White Water Rafting destinations in the World. A winding river dwarfed by canyon walls towering up to 200 to 250 metres high, with Basalt rock lining the lower fraction.

It is low water, the best time to raft the many rapids. A whole day in this mode of transport allows you to really experience and observe the power and beauty of the river.

The water flows fast, the water dark green in colour, deep and deceptive. Before a rapid the water is smooth, with the pretence of calm until it drops into a wall of sheer white water, rolling and vicious.

The rapids themselves throw you about like a rag doll. It shows no mercy to those daring enough to encounter and take on its full force. One mistake, wrong judgement and you're thrown into its water, sometimes held under until the rapid releases you into a calmer pool below.

The water at least is warm, but to those on the raft under the blazing sun who are thrown in, the water feels cold, sharp, this with its power quite literally takes your breath away.

On the calmer stretches you have time to marvel at the smooth surface water, it is dangerous currents hidden below. Either side the black basalt rock shines in the sunlight. Birds flutter low, almost skimming the surface then darting back between the rocks. Where the rocks meet the green water insects swarm around a safety kayaker who has moved to the side to watch us pass.

On the rocks behind them small lizards are found. Further up, in various locations, a crocodile will sit, unmoving but watchful of those who pass by. They do not like the fast water, so they watch from a distance as the currents push us onwards.

Every now and then the rocks stop to reveal a white sandy beach surrounded by a few green trees, all that remain in this dry season, their colour preserved by the water nearby.

The sides of the canyon are dry and bare. Skeletons of trees line the sheer slopes. From the top, on and off, a selection of small, crispy brown leaves float steadily but gently down to the water below.

An eagle flies overhead but there is no time to wonder, the silence is broken by the rushing sound of a rapid coming up, increasing on our approach.

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