Adventures in Victoria Falls
24.06.2012 25 °C
What an adrenaline packed few days in Victoria Falls!
We crossed the Zimbabwe border early Friday morning to maximize our time here. Everyone on the trip except me had been planning on doing the bungee jump, which at 111m is the 3rd highest in the world, for ages, but I was definitely NOT planning on doing something so insane. But of course, over the past two weeks peer pressure worked its magic and Friday morning I found myself signing up for the “Big Air Combo”: a zipline over the gorge (which I would have done anyway), plus the bungee jump and the gorge swing, which is pretty much the same thing as the bungee jump except that you‘re attached by a harness rather than by your ankles.
Within an hour we were walking to the bridge. We had to pass through the Zimbabwean border since we were technically going into Zambia. We did the zipline first, and it was so fun, with great views of the gorge and the falls. Then we made our way to the centre of the bridge for the other activities…this is when I started freaking out. 111m is VERY VERY high and we stood on the bridge, looking down at the Zambezi churning over rocks below us. A few of the guys went first and we watched another group do a few bungee jumps. At this point, I realized that I had to go next or I‘d want to back out!
I got strapped into my harness and led out on the bridge platform. They tie two towels around your ankles and attach the harness and rope there. At this point I was fully freaking out…but too stubborn to back out! After a brief chat about what I was supposed to do (jump out away from the bridge, arms out, and enjoy!) I had to walk to the very edge of the platform. They were taping the whole thing and as I stood on the edge, all I could say was “ohmygodohmygodohmygod” I heard the guy holding my harness count down, “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, bungee!” and I jumped (he also helped by giving me a slight push). The free fall was terrifying, far scarier than skydiving. When you’re in freefall after skydiving, you have no reference point to see how fast you’re falling so it isn‘t scary at all, just really cool. But when I jumped from the platform I could see the rapids rushing towards me and the walls of the gorge all around me. After what seemed like ages (it was actually only 5 seconds) I felt the rope tense up and I bounced, and then was flung back up under the bridge. At this point I stopped freaking out and started to enjoy the amazing feeling of flying in and out of the rainbows by the falls. It was incredible! They let you swing around for a few minutes and then I heard singing - the man who was coming to bring me back up to the bridge was singing to me! I was strapped to him and then carried back up to the safety of the bridge. My legs were shaking but I’ve never felt more alive!
Then I had to walk back to the middle of the bridge to do my gorge swing. I’d thought that I would be braver the second time around, but I felt my panic come surging back as they were doing up my harness. The procedure is the same - brief instructions on what to do, and then the horrible walk to the edge of the platform. For the gorge swing you don’t jump out, you have to just jump straight down. The fall was actually scarier since I wasn’t upside down so I could see everything that was happening, but once I hit the bottom of the rope, it was really nice swinging back and forth checking out the falls.
After all that adrenaline we had a big team dinner and hit up a local bar.
Saturday was just as adrenaline packed. We did a half day rafting trip on the Zambezi River, which started early in the morning. After a quick safety rundown, we set out for the rapids. Our guide, Colgate, was half camp counselor, half drill sergeant. Once our team was in the raft, he taught us the commands he’d be giving (forward, back, right turn, left turn, and down, which means hit the floor of the raft and hold onto the safety line for dear life!) We then practiced them in drill-form, with Colgate yelling at us to paddle harder and saying things like “What are you doing Canada girl! Move faster English Boy!” Then he got us all chanting and made us jump out of the raft for fun!
We set off down the first rapid, called the Creamy White Bum since lots of people lose their shorts there. We were pretty successful for the first few rapids, but that wasn’t good enough for Colgate. When we passed through the Mother rapid without flipping over he was disappointed! After each successful rapid Colgate had us chanting and singing hooray, we were by far the loudest and most fun boat!
Then we came to rapid 18, the terminator. We hit a huge wave head on and the next thing I knew I was under the raft, being tossed and turned by the rapids. I struggled to find my way out; every time I put my hands on the bottom of the raft to push myself out from under it I was hit by another rapid and had to start over. I started to panic a bit; I was only under the raft for around 30 seconds but it felt much longer. Once I surfaced, I realized that all of us were pretty far from the raft, so we all started swimming. Colgate pulled us all back in except Ricky, who had to be rescued by another raft!
We finished the rest of the rapids very well and even managed to rescue another rafter. After a treacherous hike back up the gorge in the unrelenting midday sun, we got to the top to find lunch ready and cold beers waiting for us! It was such a fun day.
Today is very low key, there isn’t much open since it’s Sunday and we said goodbye to the Australians today. Tonight Ricky, Ryan, Joe, and I are just going to watch the England game and then we all head off in different directions tomorrow!
This overland trip has been such an amazing experience. I’ve been able to meet such fun, cool people, and Laban and Charles were amazing, giving us the history of each country we visited and spotting animals from the road we never would have seen. It’s sad to say goodbye to everyone, but I’m excited for the next part of my adventure: lying on a beach in Mozambique!
Pictures from Okavango, Chobe, and the Falls…bungee pictures to come soon, the only internet café open today doesn’t have a disc drive so I can’t get them yet.