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“Get down!” yelled Simba. We all seized hold of the ‘Oh-sh*t!’ safety rope around the side of the hull and threw our bodies towards the middle of the raft as it tipped slowly towards the rapid. Eyes jammed shut, I gripped the rope with all my strength as the furious water took hold of us and the inflatable bucked and lurched madly forwards. When we made it to calmer water and gingerly returned to our seats, I was disconcerted to find that my paddle (a sturdy metal one) now had a right-angled bend halfway down its length. How had that happened? The crew laughed uproariously and found me a new paddle. I lost that one altogether a couple of rapids later, when the raft upended Rafting the Zambezi may not be everyone’s idea of fun. Marianne Taylor describes her experience. and dumped us all in the river as we attempted to negotiate the last and nastiest of the ‘Three Sisters’. A passing kayaker gave me a lift back to the raft, my arms and legs wrapped round the front of his kayak. I felt profoundly grateful that I’d worn old clothes and that the only crocs I’d seen were little ones. Rafting the Zambezi is scary stuff, but I’ll never forget the exhilaration of plunging through ‘Stairway to Heaven’, ‘Washing Machine’, ‘Oblivion’ and the rest on this rollercoaster ride down 18 of the most challenging rapids in the world. Climbing out of the gorge on jelly legs, I felt I’d had a true immersion in the magic of this amazing river – in every sense. By water n White-water rafting >> The Bakota gorge below the falls offers one of the world’s best and most popular white-water rafting rapids. n Jet boat >> Race the Zambezi rapids at speeds of up to 95km/h in a purpose built jet boat. n River cruise >> Unwind after the adrenalin rush by sipping sundowners as you drift down the Zambezi on a colonial-style river boat. By air n Microlight >> Ride pillion whilst an experienced pilot swoops down to give you an eagle’s eye view of the Falls. n Helicopter >> Board a helicopter for a spectacular flight along the Zambezi, over the Falls and down the narrow river gorge. n Bungee-jump >> Plunge 111m from the Victoria Falls Bridge down to the raging Zambezi. Livingstone and Victoria Falls have a few treats in store for the adventurous visitor. Huw Williams looks at what’s on offer.Thrills and spills Another team of rafters prepares for a drenching. Livingstone 22 Travel Zambia May 2007

May 2007 Travel Zambia 23 “The key is location, location, location.” Curio market in Livingstone. TONGABEZI It isn’t just green issues that need tackling. Tourism has brought considerable prosperity and development to Livingstone: over 4,700 jobs have been created, and many other people earn a living from tourism by growing food, repairing vehicles and trading. But as Dauty Mwape, Chairman of Livingstone’s Mkuni Curio Market, explains, most tourists themselves have little contact with the local people outside their hotel or lodge complex: “They are taken from the airport to their hotels, they eat breakfast, they see the Falls and they check out. We don’t see enough benefit. Only the businesses at the doorstep of the Falls see the benefit. Most of the money stays with the lodges and the companies that own them overseas. There must be a deliberate policy to empower local people.” So protect the treasure and spread the wealth are the two messages that Livingstone must heed if its current good fortunes is to be sustained for coming generations. Tourism needs to grow, local people need to see real benefits from tourism and everyone needs to look after the unique beauty of the Falls, the local wildlife and their precious natural environment. Doctor Livingstone was perhaps the first of a long line of visitors to be captivated by the magic of the Falls: “Scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight,” he famously confided to his diary in 1855. Although much has changed since then, Victoria Falls today is no less heart-stopping a sight. The people of Livingstone are its custodians. Getting the balance of growth and protection right won’t be easy, but at least they are awake to the challenge. On land n Elephant-back safari >> Ride on a jumbo for a unique encounter with wild game along the banks of the Zambezi. n Quad biking >> Drive a quad bike along special bush trails or take longer excursions to the edge of the Batoka Gorge. n Horse-riding >> Saddle up to track game in the National Park or drink in views of the Zambezi and the Falls. Suitable for all levels. Victoria%20Carriage%20Company.htm ELEPHANTS: MIKE UNWIN / ZNTB (3)