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Extreme and Freestyle Kayaking in Southern Africa
Halloween Party @ Jolly Boys
One can't come to Zambia and not experience a "Booze Cruise", depart at 16:00 and return at around 18:30. You'll experience the best sunset of your life, guaranteed viewing of hippo and/or elephant, with great company and all this with an open bar to cater for you. Easily one of the best off river experiences for a travelling paddler.
Gorgeous sunset, seen off of the cruise
One of the many cruises arriving home after sunset
During days that you are not paddling there are lots of other adventure activities to experience. My personal favourite is the Gorge swing, near rapid #7. Far scarier than the bungi jumping on the bridge. But you can decide that and experience both. Other activities include chopper flights, tiger fishing, safari, quad biking, shooting and there are even rumours of paint ball coming soon.
Gorge Swing with the river in the backround
Quite obviously the reason a paddler comes to Livingstone is to kayak the river, so let's get into it. There are a number of step by step guides to the rapids on the net, however; they are all quite dated. The following guide is edited from thezambezi.com and is fit for the new style of playboater out there wanting sick air and challenging lines on the Zambezi.
'..against the wall ' # 1. From the boiling pot, the Zambezi slams into a wall causing a powerful cushion wave, one can either avoid with a simple ferry or drop in and hang on, the ride is rough. If you’re brave enough seal launch off the wall right into the meat of the cushion but be prepared to get thrashed. Don't swim here, enough rafting clients have come up face down after some long down time. With a huge wave train leading into the wall most down river moves are possible (wavewheels, kickflips, macho moves, etc).
arial view of #1, behind the bridge
'..the bridge' # 2. Awesome mixture of waves and hole @ varying levels. Great place to show off to the falling bunji jumpers and spectators…optimal time, medium-low water, where a great wave forms with a nice green shoulder on surfers right. Often over shadowed by other waves on the river but this is a world class wave where all moves are possible and is host to for the rodeo during the December festival.
Benji Durand Pistol flipping @ #2
Rapid # 3. Drop in and surf, bounce, air blunt, air screw, basically air anything on this super fast wave. If you’re looking to enter the world of Arial tricks this is the wave to do it. Not for the faint of heart. Possibly my favourite wave, ever.
Pan am @ #3, Scott Reinders
Ross O'Donoghue smiling for the camera, #3
'Morning Glory' # 4. First taste of theZambezi, varying lines through different levels, both top & bottom holes give fast-n-wild surfs at varying times of the season. My favourite line is known as the "Dragon's back", where you ride a shoulder of water that slots you between two holes.
South African Woman's rafting team about to hit Dragons back on #4
River Boarders about to get some down-time from the bottom hole of #4
'Stairway to Heaven' # 5. Said to be the largest commercially run rapid on the planet. An easy line through a maelstrom of monster crashing waves and holes. Steep and powerful. Try "the bull move"- run or freewheel the monster pourover. Or if that is not enough you could throw yourself over the waterfall on river left Wicked cartwheel hole just above to rack up the ends. Best @ medium-low water.
Hitting the hole known as "the Catchers mit", with the waterfalls in the backround
Tom from the UK stomping the pour over
'Devil's Toilet Bowl' # 6. As the name implies, get flushed! Drop into the steep powerful hole on entry to the rapid and experience a thrashy fast surf then become engulfed by whirlpools and boils which easily suck kayaks under for a few seconds. Try not to swim to avoid some bad down-time here.
'Gullivers Travels' # 7. A world class rapid. The Longest & most technical rapid on the commercial stretch. It is so long that the features with in this rapid have their own names, the "temple of doom","Patellas GAP" (both spots to be avoided at all costs) and "the land of the giants". This one is a respectable class V. Cut back and forth between the powerful chutes, making this rapid an awesome super slalom! There are so many lines that it is difficult to describe them all. (i'll make a point to take photos on my trip and write an article on it like i did for #9)
View of #7 from ontop of the gorge, & a previous slalom course from the Zambezi bigwater invitational
Steve Fisher running third shoot with the Temple of Doom lingering in the top left corner
Rapid # 7.5. Another world class wave; at higher levels becomes a glassy green wave and at lower levels fast and wild wave forms. All arial moves are possible.
'Midnight Diner' # 8. A Zambezi classic, where else can you drop/wavewheel into the guts of a 15ft crashing hole and get away with only a nasal aenoma! The left is known as "star trek", the place to get thumped. Super-fast wave beyond the rapid for incredible surfs, all air moves attainable, one of the top waves in the world.
Freewheeling into "star trek" in #8
Nico Chassing watches clients float after getting spanked by star trek
'Commercial Suicide' # 9. This one needs no introduction, the infamous Big one. Definitely classV. The longer you stare the bigger the rapid appears. A variety of challenging lines at varying levels, each line comes with it's own worrying consequence! For more pics and to read all about it click here: http://linesandblunts.blogspot.com/2006/07/ode-to-big-one-zambezis-9.html
Watching in awe, top of #9
'Overland Truck Eater' # 11. The ocean tubing wave, twice a year during small windows (early July-Mid Jan) For around 10-14 days this beauty works. It is the only river wave of its kind! During low water the rapid allows two lines both avoiding a heinous hole. Watch out for the evil eddy line & whirlpool.
Flying surfer in front of the tube
Fisher looking nervous?
12B - Also needs no introduction. The infamous Zambezi wave. All moves are possible, plus the option of innovating your own new moves (the spot where the Helix was created) A fast, powerful, retentive wave with two windows and a wicked green shoulder to get aerial. Paddlers, have been known to play only on this cool wave and paddle very little of the rest of the Zambezi. It's that good. Furnished with a big eddy. Perfection. Surfable, Aug through December. Said to be the spot where Steve Fisher developed the Helix.
Graeme Anderson air blunting 12b
Hard carve across to the shoulder
'The Mother' # 13. A classic monster wave train of note. The first three waves can give super fast surfs. Ocean size waves on a river.
Most kaykers take out after #13 but there is great action down stream which you have to experience atleast once on your trip
Rapid # 14 various chutes to run at different levels, with the centre chute producing a powerful "wrestling hole" at medium/high level but to be avoided at lower levels. The right hand chute holds a small drop where freewheels and, maybe even, Hail Mary’s are possible; just make sure you catch it at the right level to avoid a good hole beating (lower the better)
'Washing Machine' # 15. One of only two really gnarly rapids. A simple wave train with a huge shallow crashing hole @ the bottom. Paddle left or right into the eddy to avoid. Stop and stare into the guts of the hole to imagine the potential! At higher levels drop into the surging hole/wave!
'The Terminators' I / II # 16. Not up too much in low water, a nive creek line on the river left will take you deep into a green room before popping up a few seconds later with smile on your face. In high water an immense roller coaster wave train, ocean size waves and diagonals. Wavewheel and freefall into the waiting trough.
'Double Trouble' # 17. The second of the gnarly rapids. Again a simple wave train but this time with TWO shallow crashing holes from hell @ the bottom. Escape left or right into the eddies to avoid. At higher levels both holes can give wicked fast & furious bouncy wild rides.
'Oblivion' # 18. World renowned, this rapid consists of three waves. It is the third wave which provides all the entertainment One of the best rafting rapids anywhere. Long surfs, spectacular tube stands and violent flips are the order of the day. So if the crashing wave hammers 16foot rafts, just imagine what it will do to you in a feeble kayak? Drop in or wavewheel into the guts of the trashiest wave you'll ever dare to surf! It is the safest- OUT OF CONTROL surf you will ever experience.
Dale Jardine giving in to the power of Oblivion
In the thick of #18
This is just a rough guide to all the biggest features and there are many more holes and play waves throughout the one day stretch which i haven't mentioned. There is also a multiday trip on offer where you'll experience rapids possibly bigger than the first nine, the likes of moemba falls and Ghost rider.
So what have you learnt from this:
2. enjoy the night life and all other activities that are on offer
3. the best time to come is between August and late December
4. this could be the best river on the planet and every kayaker should experience it
For more details and to book your trip visit www.thezambezi.com and get in contact with Sven. We'll be seeing you, hopefully on the awesome Zam sooner rather than later.
Good lines and Big Air
(For more on Zambezi's #9 click here: http://linesandblunts.blogspot.com/2006/07/ode-to-big-one-zambezis-9.html
A few days ago I received an email from one of the kids I went to the academy of huge experiences with (http://kayakschool.org/) He informed me that the class of the 1st semester 2005 is going to have a reunion at the Green river race this year.
I wish I could go but at the moment all life revolves around is work.
So I decided to write this in awe of the
The river that taught me the most about water and kayaking is not the Nile or the Zambezi it was this little river in
The green has a wide selection of challenging rapids, but the Triple Crown is known far and wide. “Go left and die” and “Sunshine” are well known, but “Gorilla” is feared by kayakers in all corners of the globe.
One of the greatest feelings of accomplishment I’ve ever experiences was the feeling after my 1st green triple crown.
“Go left and die” or just “go left” as some of the locals call it. The left line (the scary one) involves a right boof stroke very close to a wall which causes one to fall into a terrifying pit where one has to aim for the left gap between two rocks. This rapid is known to cause damage to people’s shoulders and can give one a nose cleansing working.
“Sunshine” is pretty much a waterfall which lands on a f**k you rock. This rapid has broken backs. At 100% one usually runs the right side where one has to surf a wave on the top of the lip from left to right and boof with a left stroke landing very close to the boulder below. I don’t know how to explain the left line, all I can say it that I wouldn’t even think about it.
“Gorilla” the name says it all. It has everything, drops, slides and big holes. After the initial, pretty strait forward, drop one has to negotiate the gap. This is where the river channels into a miniscule opening. I have seen some of the best kayakers mess this up. One of them, whose name I will not mention, decided to go down the next part backwards and upside-down. The next part is the “monkey” it involves a 13 foot drop onto a shallow rock slide which runs into a big hole, “speed trap”. “Speed trap” could work anyone if it had half a chance.
Next up are the slides, 3 of them all with sizable holes. The 1st hole being the scariest as I don’t think there is much chance of being released. All of this makes up the big one.
The skills I learned and the experience I gathered on the green are irreplaceable and I wouldn’t have been able to learn them anywhere else.
I would like to thank Pat Keller and Scott Harcke for all the time and effort they put in helping and teaching me on the
Good lines guys
Me on Gorilla - Photo by Tommy Hilleke
Scott close up blunt
Craig looping it up in the Nemesis
Craig throwin' the ends
Scott getting vertical with a great photo angle
Close up Space Godzilla