Zim and Zam

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Willy Volk

Adventure Traveller

  1. Age: 32
  2. Nationality: USA
  3. Where was your adventure?: Zambia
  4. How many days was it?: 2
  5. What type of adventure?: White Water
  6. Give us a general overview of your adventure:
    The Zambezi, between Zambia and Zimbabwe, offers some of the most challenging Class V rapids in the world. I shot the river twice – in 1999 and in 2001 – with friends. Both times, I used Bundu as the river guide. I stayed on the Zambia side once and the Zimbabwe side once. If you want comfort, stay in Zimbabwe. If you want a more authentic African experience, stay in Zambia. (This is not to say there are no comfortable hotels – or even hostels – in Zambia. Zimbabwe just has more developed tourist infrastructure.
  7. Was it difficult?: yes
    Why or why not?
    …and No. Sitting on a raft is not hard. However, the rapids can be very difficult and very scary. The anxiety that you might flip – and you will flip at some point – is terrible, and that part is difficult. (However, if you floated downstream daintily and never flipped, what kind of “adventure” would that be?)

    There are 2 kinds of rafts – those that require the guests that paddle and those that require the guests to simply hold on. I paddled both times, and from what I could tell, that was a better option for reducing anxiety. Giving the guest something to do (paddle through the rapids) made the experience much less frightening. The climb out – see below – was difficult.

  8. Would you recommend this adventure trip to someone else? Why or Why Not?
    Absolutely. It was a great day of rafting. The sheer faces of the gorge are beautiful. There was plenty of wildlife and plenty of blue sky to marvel at. You’ll never get to do this again. Plus, the ride home featured all-you-can-drink beers!
  9. What do you wish you would have done differently?
    The climb out of the canyon is a real bitch. It’s about a 1/2 mile vertical climb. The ladder is a rickety old thing made of tree branches – not a nice smooth, well-crafted staircase. I was barefoot the first time, and it was awful. Wear shoes with soles, or you’ll be sorry.
  10. What kind of advice can you give to other travellers going on this adventure?
    Choose to paddle.
    Wear shoes with soles.
    Eat breakfast.
    Do not worry. You’re SUPPOSED to flip.
    Apply sunscreen.
    Strap a waterproof, disposable camera to your life jacket. You’re supposed to paddle through the rapids. Cheat once or twice and take some “action shots.” The pictures will be great.
  11. What type of gear did you bring?
    Swimsuit, t-shirt, Tevas, disposable camera.
  12. Where is your next big adventure? Why?
    I’m going on a 7-day rafting trip in the Grand Canyon in September. Why? Duh.
  13. Did you travel before or after your adventure? If so, where?
    Throughout Southern Africa.
  14. On your adventure, what person did you most identify with?
    Robert Pelton

We are developing a new section on BootsnAll’s adventure section, highlighting different people’s adventures around the world, and we need your help. Have you ever done a great rafting trip? Climbed a huge (or small) peak? Or done an amazing adventure that you wouldn’t mind sharing with others? It could even be something random like finding a cool remote village, snow shoeing, riding a motorcycle through a country – anything that has a little taste of adventure.

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