July 16, 2010
Today was a jam-packed day of activities! We woke up and quickly grabbed breakfast at the hotel before heading out to the Zambizee River for some extreme white water rafting. When we say extreme, we mean Class 5 rapids and crocodiles in the water! The good news is that the crocs avoid the rushing water, which is where you are most likely to fall out of the boat… but if you jump into still water it is at your own risk because we definitely saw crocodiles sitting on rocks all around the river. The rapids were SO fun! We had Potato, who turned out to be a wonderful guide that was determined to give us a good time.
We went from rapids 14-25 and ranged from Class 3-5, though the most extreme were three Class 5’s in a row and our boat flipped on the third! It was an extremely intense moment when our boat flipped and all 9 people hit the water at the top of the rapid! Both Kyle and Laura (along with a few others) ended up underneath the boat when the flip happened, which meant getting out from under the boat as quickly as possible and trying not to get sucked into the whirlpools around us. Kyle escaped the rough water pretty easily but freaked out for a minute since he couldn’t locate Laura who ended up on the other side of the boat and was bobbing up and down in the rapids trying to get air and see where she was. Luckily our host for the trip, Richard, threw an oar in Laura’s direction and pulled her safely to the boat. We all had to jump on top of the upside down boat to ride out the rest of the rapid before coming to a still location where we could re-flip the boat. Jumping back into the water with all of the shock and adrenaline from the boat was scary considering the possibility of crocs in the still water! Thankfully we didn’t see any at that point and everyone quickly climbed back into the boat. We only flipped the one time, but came close a few others. Another highlight of the rafting was getting to stop to cliff dive off the Zimbabwean side of the river – which of course Kyle loved. Laura didn’t get out of the boat this time, which means Kyle got to Zimbabwe, Laura did not.
We ended the rafting and hopped directly into a jet boat for another less thrilling, but still fun experience where we did 360 degree turns at 4G force. It was a nice way to end our time on the Zambizee River. We then took a cable car up the gorge and had lunch overlooking the rapids below.
After lunch we were heli-lifted over the falls and back to the hotel. It was Kyle’s first experience in a helicopter, and what amazing sights for his first ride! The Falls look spectacular from the air – a totally different experience than walking beside them. Being able to view all 1.6 kilometers of waterfall from the air was simply amazing.
We had a quick few minutes at the hotel before heading off to the next activity: gorge jumping! Matt had already jumped earlier in the day, since he was unable to raft with us do to leg injuries, so we heard all about how fun the jump was at lunch. This jump is a 53 meter free-fall attached to a climbing rope from a harness. Once the rope catches you it swings you across the gorge. Sounds pretty intense, right? It is. Many people told us this was worse than the bungi-jump because of the whiplash that some people get if they don’t hold the rope right or jump wrong. Kyle and Andrea braved the gorge swing while Laura was a little more cautious. Not one to pass up a zipline, Laura headed to the activity next door, the flying fox, and ziplined across the gorge a few times while Kyle and Andrea hiked back out of the gorge after their jump. They both let go of the rope a little early, so we are a little worried about them being sore for a few days – ouch! The reason they went first on the swing was so we could hurry over to the next activity – we told you we did a lot today! Next stop: bungi jumping!! Unfortunately we got there as they were closing shop and had to reschedule for tomorrow morning, which means another busy day because we are already scheduled to microlight as well.
After the rejection at the bungi-jump we went back to the hotel and took the quickest showers possible before heading out to our Zambian farewell dinner. It was a secret location that no one would let slip, and was well worth the surprise. We took a van to the secret spot and arrived at a 1926 vintage train that has been refurbished and is fully operational. After staying at the Royal Livingstone Hotel all week, which is the epitome of English Colonialism, this train was really the icing on the cake.
Not to mention that we discovered once aboard the train that one of our resources, Christopher Tett, who had been with us all week and helping plan our daily activities is British and his family has been responsible for refurbishing this exact train. It was over the top and included a huge dining cart, cigar car, full bar and observation deck. It was really crazy to see all of the local kids so excited as we went down the tracks past their homes, and most of them chased us for quite a while.
We watched the sunset from the observation deck and enjoyed a few drinks, and before beginning our delish dinner, we snuck into the engine room where we saw where the train conductors sit, where the coal fire burns and coal is kept and even got to toot the trains horn as we went along. Then we rushed back to enjoy our amazing dinner which included amazing roast lamb.