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Victoria Falls & Rafting The Zambezi In Zambia

Saturday, May 25th, 2002

Sun May 25, 2002
Up at 5:30 for the sunrise micro-light (motorcycle with wings) ride to view the falls and the geologic formation left by them over thousands of years. The half hour ride is breathtaking…the falls have cut their way back in a zig-zag fashion four or five times.
A short way down the river is the bridge where people can scare themselves silly with bungee jumping; there are a variety of other activities that the tour companies can soak you for…Bob and I choose an all-day raft trip down the Zambezi River.

Zambezi Raft Trip
Normally the rafts put in at the bridge by the Falls that crosses the Zambezi River into Zimbabwe. The water is low this time of the year so our lean and experienced black African river guides had to drive us to a put-in point down the river. One guide, who will accompany us in a kayak says he has competed in kayaking events all over the world.

The mile walk straight down a 45 degree angle branch ladder to the water nearly killed me; had to turn around and go down backward the last third of the way. Bob had gone on ahead of me-the bastard I think to myself-and a long-haired guy from Hong Kong lets me balance on his shoulder the last 100 yards…am so grateful to him…you did it yourself he says…I just helped a little bit he said graciously…bless his heart. If I had known the walk down was like this I would never have gone rafting! Then had to walk around one rapid and Bob almost fell into some gooky ooze crawling over the rocks.

However back in the river, the rafts were small, we all paddled as we hit a few good rapids and had a good time. One boat flipped with a load of tourists from the Zimbabwe side. Up bobbed my Hong Kong friend that the kayak couldn’t reach and I nearly unhinged his wrist pulling him into our boat…use the collar of the life vest next time the river guide says to me. I tell my friend from Hong Kong that now we are even-we have saved each other-and we giggle.

The route back up to the top of the gorge was nearly as bad a killer as the route down. I was the straggler…even with the climber’s breathing technique…the river guide following me to make sure I didn’t croak..guzzled a Fanta at the top in near desperation and groaned when I heard that the Lorelle and the others who took the power boat trip were lifted out by helicopter!

Buffalo Steak Dinner
That night we drove into Livingstone town about 15 minutes away and ate a buffalo steak dinner at a pub that is owned by one of the safari tour leaders. On the way we stop at a pharmacy so Lorelle can get some “mozi” repellant and Bob bought a skin drum for $3 from one of the young guys selling things at the side of the truck while we wait. Funny how this selling goes-he didn’t want a drum but every time he said no the guy would come down and then finally Bob figured what the heck…now we have to send it home.

Rafting The Grand Canyon

Wednesday, September 30th, 1992

After two years on a waiting list my husband and I were finally able to spend 18 days paddle rafting the Grand Canyon…putting in above Flagstaff Arizona. We went with a company called “Azra”…not a cadillac company…but with knowledgeable and entertaining river guides who have been running the river for years. Highly recommended. We went in September…the best time to go because all the motorized boats are off the river and it is quiet.

Each morning the trip leader, who had worked as a park ranger for years, would gather us round the morning breakfast fire…his maps spread out so he could explain the geological formations we would see that day. Every few days we would take a hike up a side canyon to view Indian ruins or swim in ice cold streams…or just canyoneer the narrow gorges.

During the day, while on the river, if anyone had to go potty it was just projected over the side of the boat…or bare asses hung over the boat in the case of the females. “The solution to pollution is dilution” the trip leader advised us!

Interestingly, some of the most memorable moments were when the boats were tied together and we just floated lazily down stretches of the river that were not filled with white-knuckling number 5 rapids…listening to Irish fiddle tunes and gazing up at the configurations of the canyon walls.

In the evenings the trip leaders would set up the “honey buckets” (everything that goes onto the river comes back out except for the pee) and cook dinner while we selected a site and put up our tents. Then out came the musical instruments, the beer and interesting conversations with people like the young Chinese guy who had been in Tianamen Square when China brutally put down the student demonstrations.  The students were so sure that change was imminent, he said, and when it didn’t happen he was so disappointed he just left China and his educator parents behind. He is now a banker in San Francisco.

One night it was warm so we all slept out under the stars on the beach. However about 1am it started to rain and a strong wind came up. We all jumped up to put up our tents but Bob and I weren’t careful to throw something heavy into the tent to hold it down and the wind took it as we were trying to pound in the stakes. There went the tent rolling miles a minute toward the river! I ran after it…not catching it until it was half way across the river…Bob watching it all from the beach!

A trip of a lifetime with unforgotten river companions!