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18 Travel Zambia November 2009 Spray it again ( whitewater rafting) " We need to pass right of the indicator rock before making a hard left turn," says our guide, Clement ' Potato' Chisangwa of Bundu Adventures. " A large diagonal wave lies in wait and we need speed to break through." His next words sound even more daunting: " We'll drop into a gigantic hole called ' The Crease'," he continues, " but at all costs we want to avoid being pushed into ' Temple of Doom' on the far left." This doesn't sound good. " If we still haven't fl ipped by then," he adds, " we'll run ' Land of the Giants', where you can expect huge waves from every direction." So far so terrifying. This team talk was aimed at galvanising our motley crew of wannabe rafting enthusiasts into action as we approached the Zambezi's longest and most technically challenging stretch of grade fi ve white water. Rapid Seven, known as Gulliver's Travels, is renowned for fl ipping rafts and giving rafters a long swim - with serious ' downtime'. Everything went just as Potato had instructed . until The Crease. The seething mass of white water effortlessly fl ipped our 16- foot raft and plunged our team into the river. And we fl ipped again in the notorious Star Trek rapid, where Potato's prediction - a 3% chance of getting through unscathed - proved accurate. OK, so this might sound like a somewhat alarming way to spend a Monday, but it was one of the most exhilarating and entertaining days imaginable. Surf's up ( river boarding) Tuesday dawned as hot as ever and I headed happily back to the mighty Zambezi. This time I traded the ten- man raft for a pair of fi ns and a one- man body board. Safpar riverboarding guide David Choongo was charged with leading me safely through the rapids. With nine years of guiding experience and a love of big- wave surfi ng, he was the perfect escort for a rookie. If you think that grade fi ve rapids look big from a raft, just try lying down on a boogie board and staring up at those walls of water. They're enormous! River boarding essentially involves trying to make the correct approach into a rapid, then taking a deep breath and hanging on for dear life. Contrary to what many people think, however, it is actually a very safe undertaking. " The Zambezi is classifi ed as a high- volume pool- drop river with few exposed rocks," explains Safpar's head river guide, Andrew ' Sven' Bolton. Above: Whitewater rafters can expect spills as well as thrills Opposite from top: Preparing to launch into space on the fl ying fox Abseiling down the gorge A good scream sends these gorge swingers on their way Two's company when it comes to boogie boarding Each of the Zambezi's rapids has acquired its own nickname among whitewater rafters am prepared to go anywhere," David Livingstone once claimed, " provided it be forward". But the fi rst European to lay eyes on Victoria Falls may not have been thinking of doing it upside- down, underwater or dangling from 50 metres of elastic. A century and a half later, the town that bears Livingstone's name offers high jinks to visitors that would surely have the great explorer turning in his grave. SAFARI PAR EXCELLENCE

November 2009 Travel Zambia 19 Livingstone " This makes it incredibly safe to raft and river board, provided you use the appropriate equipment and heed the advice of your experienced river guides." As my board slid down the glassy face of the aptly named ' Muncher' towards a tsunami of white water, I had a split second to refl ect that this seemed slightly suicidal. The next few seconds seemed like minutes as the rapid tossed me under one wave and over the next before, eventually, spitting me out the back. Spluttering for breath, and silently thanking my ' overworked and underpaid' guardian angels for getting me through, I swam over to a beaming Choongo for some wild high fi ves. I was pumped and I wanted more. Cliff- hanger ( abseiling and rap jumping) Abseiling might not sound like the most terrifying activity available, but it did mark the start of a very tough Wednesday that saw me throwing myself off a ridiculously large number of cliffs and bridges. Abseiling instructor Dominique Namubwalu suggested I try rap jumping to liven things up. " You clip onto the rope, face forwards and sprint down the cliff," he clarifi ed, in response to the puzzled look on my face. " Just like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible." Oh well, I think. Easy then. Down to the wire ( high wire/ fl ying fox/ zip line) " Dive off the cliff with your arms out and soar like an eagle across the gorge," commanded my instructor, Fred Kawana. The so- called ' fl ying fox' requires you to attach your waist harness to a cable that is suspended above a gorge. You then sprint for ten metres before launching yourself over the edge, thus creating the momentum that propels you across the abyss. I couldn't help but notice, as I sprinted towards the edge, that I looked nothing like an eagle. And diving off the precipice, my harness straining alarmingly against my weight, I didn't feel like one either. But I relaxed once I realised my harness would hold me up, and fear turned to exhilaration as I zipped across the canyon. Swing low ( gorge swinging) " You will experience a 53- metre freefall lasting three seconds, before the rope arrests your fall and swings you like a pendulum backwards and forwards across the gorge," explained my instructor, Peter Simasiku. " Feel free to scream," he added - with just a hint of relish - as I prepared to take a giant stride off the cliff. " It comes with the package!" It was a simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying experience. Abseil Zambia's general manager, Kulu, convinced me to go again, but this time backwards " to experience the difference". By the end of the morning I was completely drained and my nerves shattered. Not even the impeccable safety record of no accidents in over 100,000 jumps could entice me to a third swing. BUNDU ADVENTURES STEPHEN CUNLIFFE STEPHEN CUNLIFFE BUNDU ADVENTURES