Victoria Falls, referred to locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya, or the ‘Smoke that Thunders’, has long been one of Africa’s most popular tourist attractions. It’s a spectacle of unfathomable proportions: every second, 536 million cubic litres of water tumble into the gorge below, making it the world’s largest sheet of falling water. However, this region is about far more than just a giant waterfall. For a start, it’s home to some of the most enjoyable, wildest and most downright terrifying adventure pursuits on earth. Here are eight of the best. By Aaron Gekoski
1 Whitewater rafting
If the thought of hurtling through Grade 5 rapids with names like ‘Gnashing Jaws of Death’ fills you with trepidation, steer clear of this activity (where flipping over is part of the ‘fun’). The rapids are particularly intense during low water season from August to December.
Our tip: Try to reserve some energy for afterwards – the steep, long climb back up the gorge is nearly as exhausting as the rafting itself.
2 Walking with lions
During a visit to Lion Encounter guests have the opportunity to interact with, walk next to, pet and have their picture taken with playful lion cubs. A DVD will be shown explaining the programme’s four-step breeding initiative that aims to reintroduce lions into the wild.
Our tip: The guides are hugely knowledgeable about lions and lion conservation, so make the most of this opportunity and come armed with a list of questions.
3 High wire
The high wire consists of a zip line, flying fox and gorge swing; all of which involve throwing yourself into, or soaring over, the mighty Batoka Gorge. With 80m of unassisted free fall, the gorge swing in particular isn’t for the faint of heart.
Our tip: Double the thrill on the gorge swing or zip line by strapping yourself next to a friend or loved one.
4 Elephant-back safari
Whilst not the most comfortable vehicle to explore the Zimbabwean bush, an elephant may just be the most fun. The elephants, all rescue animals, appear to be well treated and even respond to 45 commands – in three languages!
Our tip: Zimbabwe’s summers can be intensely hot and from your elevated seating position you will catch the full force of the sun. So slap on the factor 50.
5 Canoeing safari
On a canoe trip down the Zambezi you have the chance to see crocodiles, hundreds of different species of birds, giraffe, elephant and lots of those grumpy even-toed ungulates, hippos. Experienced guides know how to approach (or steer around) the animals and should ensure your safety at all times.
Our tip: For an even more immersive experience – and to wake up to sunrise over the Zambezi – follow the canoe safari with an overnight camping trip.
6 The Flight of Angels
When David Livingstone first documented the Victoria Falls he described them as “a sight so wonderful that angels must have gazed down on it in flight.” These days it’s possible to enjoy that angelic view. A thirteen-minute helicopter ride is the most impressive way to view Mosi-oa-Tunya.
Our tip: Buy, or borrow, a camera with a decent wide-angle lens so you can capture the scene below in all its glory.
7 Bungee jump
For most people, throwing yourself 111m off the Victoria Falls Bridge attached to a chord via a couple of straps flies in the face of common sense. But put logic aside for a few thrilling seconds and you’ll experience one of the greatest rushes known to man.
Our tip: Try the bungee during full moon (when howling is obligatory). But get there early, as the number of places available is limited.
8 Crocodile cage diving
At Predator Diving you get a rare opportunity to come nose-to-nose with a Nile crocodile, where only a small cage separates you from these toothy predators. As guests are lowered into croc territory, chunks of raw meat entice the animals in for a closer look.
Our tip: Dive late morning when there is direct sunlight on the pool and visibility is at its best.