POSTED 03 NOVEMBER 2015 / BY SHEARWATER VICTORIA FALLS / IN VICTORIA FALLS / TOURS & TRANSFERS
It is no secret that Shearwater was the first company to offer and operate white-water rafting in Zimbabwe. Ever since, every year it has announced low or high water season to ‘’open’’. Shearwater has always maintained its pioneering spirit, which is explanation enough as to why it has been one of the forerunners of so many other activities and things to do in Victoria Falls: Bungee, Sunset Cruises, Elephant Back Safaris, Flight of Angels Helicopter Rides. Yet throughout the falls, the cornerstone activity that first put Vic Falls on the map as the adventure centre of Africa, has seen declining numbers for years. That looks set to change.
Back in the 90’s Shearwater alone reached a record of 300 rafters in one day, and average days would see at least 70. In the last few years average numbers have dropped to as low as 16 (2 rafts). The much considered analysis on this mainly focuses on a changing demograph. Visitors to the falls are generally older than they used to be and there are less student gap year overlanders. So those in the market for a ‘’best on the planet’’ 1 day White Water Rafting Trip are less numerous, and of course since the early days: what to do in Victoria Falls is now a choice of so many world class activities that committing to a full day when time is at a premium is too much for some.
Few who work in the industry here don’t find this a regret. The Falls will always score highly on the ‘’oh wow’’ barometer, but nothing seriously compares with the heart racing water pounding thrill of being deep in the Batoka gorge actually riding the immense waves of the world famous mighty Zambezi. It is a vicarious pleasure to see how much delight – genuine life enhancing, endorphin flooding delight, people take from this adventure. You know they will never forget it, and will eagerly seek opportunites the rest of their lives to allude to it – word of mouth at its best. Personal endorsement at its greatest. But few, if any, will simply pop of to Zimbabwe to do a days rafting.
Shearwater is now pioneering a focus which says: rafting is not one of the things to do in Victoria Falls once you get here, it is THE reason you come here. There has been an upsurge in large social groups – 30 at a time (lads and dads (and mums and sisters too)) from schools, colleges, neighbourhoods or churches that have decided they want to come to Victoria Falls specifically to raft, and enjoy the unique experience of a multi day Rafting Trip.
Little could be more exhileraing, rafting on the timeless world renowned mighty Zambezi by day, and then camping on the sandy banks of the river, deep in the gorge by night. Sitting around a driftwood fire by night in extraordinary solitude gazing at the never ending flowing of water lit by a star strewn sky, you will never ever forget. If this is something you have the privilege of doing with friends and family – you will rarely equal it. Currently the main interest is coming from social groups in South Africa, opting for a week long trip to the falls with 5 days rafting the main focus, and a couple of nights at the Rest camp in town, also allowing them to partake in some of the other wonderful opportunities afforded by what to do in Victoria Falls. Developing this for the European and American markets is an easy ask based on 10-14 day round trips, with 3 or 4 nights additional canoe trips on the upper Zambezi an obvious companion.
Shearwater and many others here feel almost evangelical about rafting the Zambezi, we feel the dynamic is about to change as groups decide a White-water Rafting expedition to Zimbabwe is spectacular holiday worth planning for.