The Raft of the Zambesa

When Livingstone first viewed the Victoria Falls in November 1855, he commented ‘’scenes so lovely they must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight’’. He may have also thought to himself ‘’my God I have never seen such turbulent rapids – they are completely impassable’’. He would never have guessed that 130 years later a man named Paul Connolly (with wife Marie, the Shearwater founders) would start promoting commercial trips down the lower river and over these very same rapids in inflatable rubber boats – and that more amazingly people would eagerly pay for the privilege. Of course what we know of Livingstone – he would have been one of the first to do it, and in the scheme of his level of derring do, it would have all been matter of fact.


Nothing in the way of things to do in Victoria Falls quite compares with white water rafting, none of the exceptional activities in Victoria Falls is nearly as fundamentally elemental. There are legions of veterans who have taken part in this incredible adventure years ago, who would still rate it as the most exciting activity in which they have ever participated.

At low level times, the day starts early with a muster at the Shearwater town office, and then a short open truck ride out to the top of the gorge by the Rainforest. Having gathered paddles, life vests and helmets, new recruits listen in on a safety talk by guides: Titanic, Kamikaze etc – you know this is going to be a little hair raising to say the least. Then begins the steep, steep descent down into the depths of pre history of the beautiful Batoka gorge. Having reached the bottom of the gorge, you instinctively look up and let out an involuntary ‘’wow’’ – the sheer sides of the gorge bathing in morning sunlight, and then the complete madness of the iconic Victoria Falls bridge spanning an impossibly vertiginous ravine so high above you – notwithstanding the insanity of bungee jumpers flying off the bridge and hurtling towards you (another of the not – for – cissies things to do in Victoria Falls, yet another of the red blooded activities in Victoria Falls).

Cambering over massive basalt boulders dislodged way before Livingstone ever visited, you embark your raft. It begins to be utterly surreal – here you are at the bottom of the worlds most exotic waterfall. You paddle out and peer around the corner of the Falls themselves – there they are from the bottom up – a reverse perspective you just were not counting on when you decided this might be one of the things to do in Victoria Falls you would participate in – the view and feeling is spellbinding. You haven’t even started your chosen activity yet!

Then it starts, you are paddling your way to your first rapid, heart pumping, nerves jangling and brow perspiring. It looks so big, it seems so angry, my god there’s like a steep drop (the crease) – a quick gulp as you are involuntarily pulled into the watery Wurlitzer. The boat buckles and bumps, water flies up and in, the raft tilts one way and then the other every one squeals and yelps. That was incredible. You then learn you have just traversed a grade 3.5 rapid, and today is mostly about grade 5’s.

You spend the next 4 hours either gliding serenely along this majestic mind blowing river feeling you are really connecting with raw mysterious Africa, or in pitched battle with each of the eponymously named rapids: highway to hell, the mother, overland truck eater. It is imperious as a combination of adventure and exploration. The exertion required to climb out of the gorge at trip end, only serves to remphasise the scale of achievement.

You could write a separate account of each of the 20 odd rapids describing each one as worthwhile in terms of things to do in Victoria Falls, each one in its own right as one of the most awesome activities in Victoria Falls. There is not a soul who will have completed the White-water Rafting who won’t rate it amongst the most exciting experiences of their lives


Fly it, Raft it, Jump it, Cruise it… …Book It

Whether you want to

FLY (flight of Angels Helicopter Tours), RAFT (Best grade 5 White Water Rafting in the world), CRUISE (classic Zambezi Sunset Cruise), JUMP (Victoria Falls Bungee Jump – off the iconic Victoria Falls Bridge), TOUR (Guided Tour of the falls), EAT (2 of the best resturants in the falls – Rainforest Café, and Shearwater Café),SAFARI ( Elephant Back Ride Safaris or Game Drives)



One company stands out from all the rest – SHEARWATER is the original and the best.

Shearwater is in it’s 4th decade of providing the very best of things to do In Victoria Falls which includes the most awesome and popular activities.

We are the original White water rafting company based in Victoria Falls and our pioneering spirit (aptly our motto) has ensured, that ever since our start in 1985 we have been the most innovative and progressive company in the area – always looking for exciting new products and services.

Most visitors to the Falls arrive on an afternoon flight (possibly booked at the Shearwater flight office), and can then be collected with punctuality, efficiency and professionally by a Shearwater transfer vehicle, which will stow all luggage and take guests to respective hotels to settle in.

Being late afternoon by now – time for one of the very best things to do in Victoria Falls and an activity no one should miss: a classic Zambezi sunset cruise. Shearwater will collect you from your hotel and take you to the Shearwater jetty for an unforgettable cruise on one of its twin decked craft as you sit back and indulge your romantic imagination – cruising the mighty Zambezi river just upstream of the amazing falls, enjoying a complimentary bar and delicious snacks. Watch a sunset you never thought possible.

At the end of the cruise get a transfer back into town and enjoy a fantastic meal at the superb Shearwater Café – amazing to go from the sublime to the urbane in such a short distance.

On your first morning – do what you came here to do – and the premier sightseeing tour in the area – enjoy an informative and expertly guided tour of the Victoria Falls and learn everything of the history, geography and contemporary form one of the Shearwater veterans.

Then for true perspective – Our flight of angels helicopter flight has become the mandatory thrill for ensuring visitors enjoy and witness the falls in all their incredible glory.

Next have a break and a coffee, and write a postcard at the Shearwater Café, before catching the complimentary Bungee bridge bus, to the iconic Victoria Falls bridge. Cross into no mans land between the borders of Zambia and Zimbabwe. First of all take in this amazing vista: the 120 year old bridge, the breathtaking Batoka gorge with coiling spoiling rapids below, the tropical vegetation and the falls themselves. Then decide – are you going for the Big Air combo: zip line, swing and bungee (an adrenaline cleansweep), or perhaps you’d enjoy the fabulous and idiosyncratic Historical Bridge tour. ALL definitely part of the must do ‘’things to do in Victoria Falls’’, and great individual activities in Victoria Falls.

Second morning and having seen the falls from above and below – its time to taste, touch and feel it. One of the most elemental experiences you could have anywhere in the world – is an amazing white water rafting trip, through the stunning Batoka gorge as you combat the most phenomenal grade 5 rapids in the world. This is the mighty Zambezi up close and personal – and one of the best things to do not only in Victoria Falls – but anywhere in the world – an activity in Victoria falls second to none.

Time again for another extraordinary Victoria falls juxtaposition as you swap the surreal for the sublime. Get up close and personal with Africa’s iconic mammal and enjoy an Elephant back safari in the glorious and huge Stanley and Livingstone game reserve (home to an incredible 9 rhinos). Riding atop these incredible animals and the close interaction you have with them with have a lifelong effect. It is small wonder the Elephant back safari rates as one of the very best things to do in Victoria Falls and one of its top activities.