The High Wire Hand Book

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Canopy Tour – Spectacular views make for great photo opportunities.

Over the course of our lives, human beings are taught a series of lessons aimed at keeping us safe and out of harm’s way. Don’t run with scissors, don’t talk to strangers, and most certainly do not throw yourself off a wooden platform perched on the edge of a cavernous gorge. It seems like useful enough advice. However, every year thousands of Adrenalin junkies break free from the chains of reason and allow their bodies to be swallowed whole by masses of African air as they plummet towards the rapids of the mighty Zambezi. The expert guides at Wild Horizons facilitate an experience of exhilaration with a level of professionalism and enthusiasm that has jumpers bouncing back for more.

Wild Horizon’s high wire activities are nestled between the jaws of the Batoka gorge. The open, natural design of the Lookout Café allows it to blend in seamlessly with the surrounding environment, and offers a unique 360 degree view of the excitement and beauty that unfolds there everyday. With the flying fox and canopy tour to the right, the zip line and gorge swing to the left and the luminous rafts plunging through the rapids below, even those sitting and sipping a cocktail in the café feel included in the adventure. The sheer extravagance of this natural wonder can be overwhelming even to those who have seen it one hundred times before. To help you navigate this landscape and decide which activity best suits you, we have put together a High Wire Hand Book.

The Canopy Tour

The canopy tour consists of a series of short zip lines that zig zag between the vegetation spilling from the rock face. This is an ideal activity for anyone who will appreciate the time to drink in an exclusive view of the scenery. Accompanied by a trained guide and occasionally a curious baboon, it is impossible not to have a smile stretched across your face as you whiz from one platform to the next.

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Canopy Tour – Each slide gives you more confidence…

The Flying Fox

It is not often in life that we can transform fantasy into reality, and anyone with the slightest sense of adventure has fantasized about flying. Strap on your GoPro, fasten that harness, kick off your shoes and you are just a short run away from flying with this next activity. The harness is designed to attach to your back, so that the moment your feet lose contact with the wooden platform, you are tilted and lifted into superman position (but with a view far more exquisite than he would have had). Stretch your arms out, with nothing to grasp but the cool wisps of wind as you sweep across the sky.

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The Flying Fox

The Zip Line

Anyone out there with a need for speed, this is the activity for you. Our zipline is the longest in the world, extending 425 meters across the gorge, suspended 120 meters over the rushing rapids and travelling around 106 kilometres per hour. There is the option of taking/dragging a friend along for the ride, or sailing solo. Ignoring the frantic voice in your head, you will sit on the edge of the platform and get your first full look at the adventure that awaits you. Slowly, you will inch off the ledge until you are dangling above this incredible spectacle. Point your toes, make sure your eyes are open and feel your body shoot forward into the beautiful abyss.

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The Tandem ZipLine

The Gorge Swing

The most important thing to know about the gorge swing, is that the scariest moments are the ones leading up to the jump- when you hook a trembling arm through the harness, take those tentative steps to the edge of the platform and peer down the steep drop below. This is the part your brain kicks into high alert. Tremors will shoot down your spine and every cell in your body will tingle in anticipation. However, the second you step into the African atmosphere the wind whips all the fear and doubt right off you. When there is nothing pulling you down but the force of gravity, your heart is in your throat and the only sounds your own screams of thrill, you will finally understand why so many people are addicted to this feeling. The drop may only last three seconds, but the memory lasts a lifetime. Perhaps it is the perceived danger of the jump, or the incomprehensibility of what you have accomplished, but during the swing at the bottom, you will feel more alive than on the day you were born.

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The Gorge Swing

Of course, there is an opportunity for creativity with this activity. For increased incredulity, some people prefer to do the jump backwards. For the extremely daring, there is a hand stand option. The choice is yours, and our experienced guides will be with you every step of the way to ensure that no matter which way you jump, you are 100% safe.

This section of Victoria Falls is where Africa really shows off, and whether you choose to do an activity or not, this is a corner of the world worth seeing. Written by Jess White

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A Game Drive at The Victoria Falls Private Game Reserve

The muggy afternoon heat was beginning to dissipate as Mike, our incredibly knowledgeable and charming guide, arrived to collect us from The Stanley and Livingstone. Almost immediately we saw a herd of zebra. This fairly common sighting suddenly became an interesting study in how zebra stripes act as a private air conditioning system, allowing them to stay blissfully cool in the heat of a Zimbabwean afternoon. Equally fascinating, although less romantic, we learnt that within the first few days of being born, baby zebras eat their mother’s dung. This provides them with roughage and ample bacteria to fight off infection during their vulnerable first days.

S&L game drive DSuddenly we were startled by a warthog whose impressive size and demeanor was somewhat diminished by the very obvious lack of his tail. Mike explained to us that it is common to see warthogs with no tails on the 6000-acre reserve, as there is fierce competition between warthogs and hyenas for the limited number of burrows. About 70% of the warthogs have lost their tails from reversing into a burrow and finding it occupied by sharp fanged rivals!

Alerted by the smell, we were thrilled to see a pile of rhino faeces on the road. Mike explained to us how rhino have a unique system of detecting the presence of other rhino in the area. Male rhino ensure that after defecating they leave traces of urine and faeces on their back legs. These ‘calling cards’  drop off as he walks, clearly demarcating his area for other would-be trespassers! Female rhino dung can indicate an increase in oestrogen for potential suitors in the area.

Much like we humans will sniff a glass of wine trying to discern different scents and notes, so a rhino employs a similar, albeit rudimentary method to glean information. So the next time you raise a glass of wine to your nose and inhale deeply, think of the rhinos, one of which could be doing exactly the same thing at the same time. Cheers to you both!

Our glorious afternoon was complete when suddenly we came across not one, but five Black Rhino! Unperturbed by our presence and obvious excitement, these magnificent creatures strolled leisurely up to our vehicle, sniffing (of course) the air inquisitively and coolly regarding their star struck visitors. We realized how supremely privileged we were to see these 5 rhino (the herd comprises 7 in total) when Mike pointed out that the total black rhino population in the world stands now at a mere 1500. Depressing news indeed! For this reason the rhino on the reserve are regularly de-horned to deter poachers.

After the privilege of watching these incredible creatures, we made our way to the dam. Progress was delayed firstly by a herd of elephants waiting patiently for the babies to stop gambolling on the road and then by an enormous herd of buffalo whose progress indicated that they too were feeling the lethargy and peacefulness of the early evening. After a  glorious sunset, accompanied by perfectly made gin and tonics, delicious nibbles and a myriad of bird activity, we reluctantly left this stunning display of nature to make our way home, all of us enriched by an incredible afternoon in the capable hands of Mike.

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TIPS:

  • Wear neutral coloured clothing, a hat and sunglasses.
  • Take cameras and binoculars- there’s plenty to see!

Victoria Falls Canopy Tour and High Wire Activities!

We met our guides Michael and Bright at The Lookout Café. The venue is spectacular and the views give you a tantalizing taste of what’s to come. Our guides kitted us each with full body harness, pulley and safety helmet and there was plenty of laughter about the flattering fit of the harnesses!

We then walked a short distance to the first slide on the Victoria Falls Canopy Tour and our guides demonstrated how to slide on the cables and the safety procedures.

The Victoria Falls Canopy Tour offers everyone an exhilarating opportunity to soar through the rain forest in the Batoka Gorge with spectacular views of the mighty Zambezi River and the Victoria Falls Bridge. It is an unforgettable adventure as you slide from one platform to the next along a series of steel cables set amongst magnificent natural surroundings.

You are in another world from the moment you step off the first platform and slide through the tree-tops… there’s simply nothing to prepare you for the magnificence of the view across the gorge you glimpse as you first whizz across it. As you continue on the tour it appears that each slide offers something more and you can feel the groups’ confidence build.

At first some of us were very unsure and there was much nervous giggling but by the third slide whoops of sheer delight were reverberating through the gorge. We soon realize that with the combination of the safety line and the knowledge and expertise of Michael and Bright who are calm, confident and encouraging, we were totally safe.

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SAFETY:

All groups are escorted by a lead guide and safety guide at all times. The guides are friendly, professional and reassuring. Your safety is paramount and Wild Horizons have strict procedures in place to ensure that you are constantly connected to either the cable or the platform.

The scenery high up within the forest canopy is spectacular. We enjoyed spotting birdlife amongst the surrounding trees and canyon walls and were lucky enough to have a Verreaux’s eagle soaring above us and periodically landing in trees on the canyon wall to watch us inquisitively. I can only imagine he thought we were learning to fly! Each tour lasts between 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on how many people are in your group and the speed you choose to go. We had a much-needed cold drink as we walked out of the gorge still smiling from the adventure.

Next up was the Flying Fox. We were re-harnessed so that we were suspended from our backs. The Flying Fox consists of a cable over the width of the gorge and with the harness facing down you literally ‘fly’ through the air over the turmoil of the Zambezi below. With our confidence soaring from the Canopy Tour we all stepped off into the abyss. The view is unbelievable!

Similarly to the Canopy Tours escalation of excitement and adrenaline, so the order we did the other activities in scaled up in order of excitement. Accordingly we moved on to the Zip Line- this is an activity we chose to do in tandem. Our harnesses were re-adjusted and we were seated for the activity. The platform it leaves from offers an exciting view of what you are about to embark upon- a very steep descent that has you travelling at up to 105 km an hour whilst travelling across the gorge with the Zambezi below.

My friend perfectly described the feeling of hurtling downwards and across the gorge as a ‘rush of joy’!

The final and most adrenalin inducing activity is the Gorge Swing. Not for the faint of heart this includes a whopping 70 metre free-fall before you are ‘caught’ by the harness and begin swinging across the gorge. This is an incredible experience as you swing in a huge arc with the Zambezi churning below you. It’s impossible not to appreciate the feeling of hanging over the mighty Zambezi by a cord!

And suddenly we were done! Buoyed up by adrenaline and the indescribable feeling of feeling more alive we headed back to the Lookout Café for a celebratory beer. We were all thrilled at the end of a great day and the shared memories we had created.

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TIPS:

  • Wear comfortable clothing and closed-toe footwear. Open sandals are not suitable as they will simply fall off. Wear shorts or long pants and not a skirt as you will be in a harness. Running shoes are perfect and strap-on sandals will do.
  • Take an easy to use camera with a strap that can attach around your neck or to your hand. There are plenty of great photo opportunities!
  • The Canopy Tour experience is an excellent corporate and team building event.
  • There is a safe box at The Lookout Café where you can leave your belongings and any valuables- however I suggest packing lightly.