The global spread of the coronavirus is disrupting travel. Stay up to date on the science behind the outbreak>>

How to go white-water rafting on the Zambezi River

There's nothing quite like navigating the Zambezi below the mighty Victoria Falls. Here's what you need to know before tackling the river

Published 3 Aug 2018, 09:00 BST, Updated 14 Jul 2021, 16:27 BST

Types of trip
Safpar offers two trips: half day and full day. If you're worried, opt for the half-day afternoon trip when the tides are gentler. The rapids become increasingly menacing in both intensity and in name, ranging from the scenic Between Two Worlds to The Gnashing Jaws of Death.

The guide will talk through every little step to ensure your safety, from how to move around the boat to how to hold on. Of course, you can get injured doing almost anything, but relax — all the guides are fully trained with advanced first aid certificates — just in case. 

You'll need a tried-and-tested raft, high-floatation life jacket, helmet and an oar. In the colder months, it's well worth putting on a wetsuit top. Wear light sandals or trainers, a T-shirt, shorts, and swimwear underneath if you fancy a dip in the river.

Before you go
Beginners might want to practise on a man-made course like the Lee Valley White Water Centre in Hertfordshire, or the natural waters of Wales' Tryweryn River at the National White Water Centre 

The lingo

'High side': When your guide yells this, listen. This crucial command determines which side to leap towards to avoid capsizing.

'Wrap': When the current is so powerful that the boat becomes wedged against a rock or another object.

'Eddie': Your SOS spot. An eddie is water flowing upstream behind a rock — ideal for escaping a strong current.

How to do it
British Airways flies from London to Livingstone via Johannesburg. Safari Par Excellence offers white-water river-rafting trips starting from $150 (£112) per person.   

Follow @FaridaZeynalova

Published in the Adventure guide, distributed with the September 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

Read More

You might also like

The scandal of 'ghost flights': are empty planes haunting our skies?
Six music festivals making a positive impact in 2022
The National Geographic Traveller Travel Writing Competition 2022 is open for entries
Five alternatives to the Amalfi Coast for an Italian road trip
Five of the best adventures around Costa Rica's Arenal Volcano

Explore Nat Geo

  • Animals
  • Environment
  • History & Culture
  • Science
  • Travel
  • Photography
  • Space
  • Adventure
  • Video

About us


  • Magazines
  • Newsletter
  • Disney+

Follow us

Copyright © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society. Copyright © 2015-2021 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All rights reserved