The Mighty Zambezi river is one of the top paddling destinations in the world. The class V water in gorges below Victoria falls provides 24km of top notch paddling fun. This is a high volume, pool-drop river with little exposed rock either in the rapids or in the pools below the rapids.

The Mighty Zambezi

The Zambezi is considered to be at its best at low water levels. The low water season lasts from July to January. At other times the Zambezi is still more than worth a go, but some of the wave trains are washed out.

The put in for both low and high water runs lies just down stream from the bottom of Victoria falls and is know as the boiling pot. The subsequent rapids down the Bokata gorge are separated by distinct pools of slack water. This has allowed the rapids in the one day run to be individually numbered from 1 -18. Rapids #19 to #25 represent a grade 2/3. Rapid #23 is the last rapid on the “high water” one-day run. 

This great edit from Prijon Talk shows rapids #1-13.

The Rapids 

#1 aka “Back against the wall” – the water in the 100m gorge is forced around a tight 90 degree turn, which results in a huge pile being formed against the gorge wall.

#2 aka “Between 2 worlds” – an easy rapid with plenty of gentle play opportunities.

#3 aka “Bits & Pieces” – like #2 an easy rapid with plenty of gentle play opportunities.

#4 aka “Morning Glory” – this is the first “major” rapid with two distinct holes to contend with. You can sneak past the first left or right and then the second on the left. A good pasting should result in being washed into the bottom pool. Gather your kit an then ready for the off.

#5 aka “Stairway to heaven” – this rapid has a serious repuatation. It’s big but technically not that difficult! Get your line right, avoid the massive pour over and the huge hole and your home free.

#6 aka “Devils toilet bowl” – a single hole that can be easily by passed on either side, or played in if feeling brave.

#7 aka “Gullivers travels” – out of the 18 rapids this one has to be the longest. It is divided into three sections; Indicator rock, The crease, and Land of the Giants. Simply pick your line and go for it.

#8 aka “Midnight Diner” – A meaty rapid with the “muncher” and “star trek” waves to deal with.

#9 aka “Commercial Suicide” – raft parties portage this rapid! There is a reason why, you just need to see this one to find the answer. #9 provides some unbeleivably large holes and waves. Just remeber – low brace and roll.

#10 aka “Gnashing Jaws of Death” – a large, simple wave train.

#11 aka “The Overland Truck Eater” – a couple of serious holes, followed by mega boils and whirlpools!

#12a/b/c aka “The 3 Sisters” – 12b is one of the best play waves found anywhere. This awesome tubing wave can be seen on the Wicked Liquid series of videos.

#13 aka “The Mother” – big waves that form a technically easy wave train. Go from the centre and keep on paddling.

#14 forms on the big S-bend in the river. The centre chute should be avoided at lower water levels. 

#15 aka “Washing Machine” – a simple wave train with a huge crashing hole – go left or right into the eddy.Pick your lines carefully and scout when you can.

#16 aka “The Terminators I and II” – a massive wave train and trough at higher levels, not much when low. 

#17 aka “Double Trouble” – a simple wave train with 2 large holes – also known as “The Bitch”. Pick your lines carefully and scout when you can.

#18 aka “Oblivion” – three waves make up THE rapid on the Zambezi.. The 3rd crashing wave is responsible for more raft flips than any other in the world – only about 1 in 4 attempts succeed! This rapid marks the end of the “low water” one-day run.

This can be run left or right.

An extreme walk out must then be endured. Seriously steep and seriously hard work.