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.
POSTED 28 SEPTEMBER 2015 / BY SHEARWATER VICTORIA FALLS / IN VICTORIA FALLS
The portents were all good – lunar eclipse, full moon – supermoon. Not that we are normally superstitious but Monday 28 September proved to be a great date for us to test run our new Full Moon dinners.
Victoria Falls is home to the greatest of the 7 natural wonders of the world (and naturally we are biased). The Rainforest Café is right in the heart of Rainforest where the magnificent falls are situated – so the prospect of hosting dinners here was always an extremely exciting one, particularly at Full Moon. Of course the challenge is always trying to find a place for such an activity when there are already so many things to do in Victoria Falls.
A full moon enables a visitor to see the falls in spellbinding silvery moon shadows, as well as witnessing the unique enigma of a lunar moonbow.
The Shearwater Full Moon dinner allows visitors to experience the magic of the falls at full moon, and also get an alternative guided tour of the falls, where they will learn more about local history and legend as well as contemporary events and occurrences associated with the falls – a different perspective to the standard daytime tour. Following this they will enjoy an exceptional 3 course dinner at the Rainforest Café, dressed and decorated especially to be evocative to all senses for this beguiling event. Following the main course, there is then a highly impressive 20 minute theatrical presentation on David Livingstone, spoken in the first person. When trialled on local agents here in the falls, all were unanimous in their verdict: excellent in all respects.
Activities in Victoria Falls cover such a wide spectrum of choices – designed to suit all levels of adventure, interest and excitement. Never would any visitor to Victoria Falls be stuck with a conundrum of what to do in Victoria Falls. There is the general welcome to the Falls which most indulge in having arrived mid-afternoon at VF airport: a soothing sunset cruise on the beautiful Zambezi with complimentary drinks and snacks to enjoy throughout the voyage. It is generally on the morning of day 2 that the majority of people do their tour of the falls, and Shearwater offer the very best and experienced guides for a guided tour of the falls. This is the number one reason as to why people visit Victoria Falls and naturally the number one of things to do in Victoria Falls. Having marvelled at the spectacle though – most decide they really want different perspectives in look feel and texture to this natural phenomenon. This inevitably leads them to some of the other great choices of what to do in Victoira Falls: The flight of angels helicopter ride providing a spectacular aerial vire, a gorge hike getting right into the belly of the beast as you clamber basalt rock to get right at the foot of the falls – and of course the daddy of all activities : White Water Rafting on the mighty Zambezi, the best grade 5 rafting experience on the planet.
Other activities in Victoria Falls will take your attention and interest: the serenity of an elephant back safaris, an informative insight into the building of the iconic Victoria Falls Bridge on the Historic Bridge Tour – when you will also get to watch adrenaline junkies taking advantage of the big air combo doing a zipline from Zambia to Zimbabwe, performing a lovers leap perhaps in a tandem Bridge Swing, or the ultimate: a Bungee Jump.
However all the marvellous distractions of things to do in Victoria Falls, can’t really compare with the ultimate attraction. One of only 7 natural wonders of the world, the only one in Africa, full of mystery intrigue and romance – and not even appearing on a European map until after 1855: The Victoria Falls. Don’t squander one solitary moment here, take every opportunity you can to reflect on their magnificence. The Full Moon Dinner allows you to fully contemplate, reflect and inwardly digest this awe inspiring frontier part of Africa – beside its greatest natural jewel. Things to do in Victoria Falls just got a whole lot better with what should be an automatic selection of what to do in Victoria Falls
IT’S OFF TO A GORGE HIKE WE GO
The demographic of visitors to the falls has changed over the years. 25 years ago the adrenaline buzz of White Water Rafting was the main lure for a younger generation. Now most visitors to the falls somewhat older and have put adrenaline rushes behind them. However customer feedback tells us they still want to be active and do not want weeks of indulgence and a sedentary state of near permanence.
A GORGE HIKE IS THE PREFECT BLEND OF EXCITEMENT, PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND WONDER.
- Climb down through evolution itself 110m into the depths of the breath-taking Batoka gorge.
- Be expertly guided over the enormous basalt boulders thrown down millennia ago.
- Uniquely stand on dry ground with rapids swirling nearby and gaze up at the falls from below.
- Truly encounter what it is like to be in the belly of this naturally phenomena.
- Feel a sense of satisfaction having climbed (steep walk) back out and up to the edge of the Gorge – and behold your endeavours.
There is such a bountiful list of things to do in Victoria Falls, so many activities to take advantage of in Victoria Falls that making as selection can be challenging.
Originally people only came to gaze in wonder at the eponymous falls themselves and marvel at one of nature’s seven natural wonders, and a guided tour of the falls still remains the main attraction – the no1 thing to do in Victoria Falls. Of course the abundance of game and wildlife has also meant for a long time that this has been a major destination for those on Safari or seeking to witness first hand Africa’s astonishing range of animals, flora and fauna.
It was only a matter of time though before a mixture of curiosity and taste for adventure meant people looked into the broiling, spoiling waters of the mighty Zambezi in the gorge below the falls, and began to wonder…? Shearwater in 1985 was the original founder of commercial White Water Rafting trips over the grade 5 rapids of the Batoka gorge – and thus kick-started Victoria Falls as a new adventure destination in Africa.
Adding to the list of exciting things to do in Victoria Falls became a regular occurrence as Bungee Jumping, Canoeing, and Gorge swinging all started to gain huge popularity as new activities in Victoria Falls and making it the adventure capital of Africa.
Then in the 90’s even more activities in Victoria Falls were initiated and the list of things to do grew aver greater – and now not just a destination for adrenaline junkies keen on white knuckle white-water rafting trips or leaping head first off the iconic Victoria Falls bridge tied to a bungee rope – there were alternative less active attractions too: romantic Sunset Cruises, ballooning, Helicopter Rides and leisurely Elephant Back Safaris. The demographic started to change.
With the less adventurously inclined and generally older groups that started arriving in significant numbers to visit the falls – there was inevitably some crossovers and rubbing shoulders with the adrenaline addicts who had been coming for the last couple of decades. Inevitably this has led to the development of a hybrid activity that provides physical exertion, excitement and adventure – without the heart pumping fear of the high octane pursuits.
The Gorge Hikes allow people of all ages and abilities to have a day of fulfilling physical activity – which requires exertion without being punishing, and also a unique opportunity to do something extremely rewarding. Make your way down a very deep descent 110m into the pre historic Batoka gorge, and then be safely and expertly guided over the massive basalt boulders that the forces of nature carved out millennia ago. Stand at the foot of Falls and gaze in awe upwards at the spectacle. Feel hear and see the extraordinary, the incredible and the mighty forces of nature at work as the spray from the turbulence of the Falls rains all around you, and the roar of millions of cubic metres of Zambezi fly over the lip of the falls creating the boiling rapids ahead of you. This is really getting into the engine room of the Victoria Falls – really getting up close and personal with its might and majesty.
This is a truly exciting activity. Having been thrilled at by all the power and raw energy of the falls, you can now use some of your own, as like so many of the intrepid and famous explorers of yesteryear you use your own strength to climb (steep walk) back out of this breath taking gorge. Once back at the top, you will look back down and be overcome with a great sense of wellbeing, achievement and enthralment.
A Gorge Hike is a relative newcomer to the man things to do in Victoria Falls, but thoroughly deserves its place amongst the pantheon of great activities in Victoria Falls.
Ask anyone what picture immediately comes into their head when you say Africa – and the vast majority will reply with – Elephant. It is the essence of the continent – huge, mysterious, exotic, powerful and fascinating. It is the icon of the continent – football teams, mascots, badges, posters, logos – you name it, the Elephant is the manifestation of Africa in so many ways. And it is the emotion of the continent – concern, affection, adoration, fear and very often at breaking point.
Anyone coming to Africa and visiting Victoria Falls and seeking things to do in Victoria Falls, should not miss the opportunity to partake in one of the classic activities in Victoria Falls which embodies so much of the paradigm associated with the enigmatic African Elephant. Shearwater Elephant Back Safaris has been operating in Victoria Falls for over 15 years.
Our elephants are all rescue elephants from drought and being orphaned and have been accustomed to human interaction. They spend up to 8 hours a day roaming the bush as nature intended, feeding endlessly on their favourite bush fodder, as their indunas follow them throughout the day until they are led willingly back to the stables.
In between foraging at will, they will gather at the Shearwater boma, to provide a thrilling experience to all those participating in this fantastic Victoria Falls activity. Following welcoming drinks and an insightful talk from the Shearwater indunas, each elephant will mounted their favourite induna and up to 2 passengers.
An Elephant Back Safari is a then a 45 minute slow and magical ride through the bush of the Stanley and Livingstone private game reserve (home to the big 5), which provides an entirely unique elephant eye perspective on the African bush. Kudu, impala, buffalo, zebra giraffe are all regularly spotted along the ride, as your induna gives an essential education on all things elephant as you lumber along.
The ride is joyous enough. What marks out this out though, as one of the most sublime activities in Victoria Falls – one of the very best things to do in Victoria Falls, is the personal interaction one gets with the elephant at the end of the ride. Feed your elephant by hand and feel his trunk delicately pick his favourite nuts from the palm of you hand, stare straight into those huge gleaming globes of eyes and caress those silky soft Africa shaped ears – it’s an intimacy few ever get chance of and no one ever forgets.
It is challenging trying to complete the perfect itinerary of what to do when in Victoria Falls, there are so many world class activities in Victoria Falls – but an Elephant Back Safari can only be equalled at best and never beaten.