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.
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Victoria Falls: The natural variation of a natural wonder

Recently there has been strong concern over the apparent ‘drying up’ of the Victoria Falls- fuelled by sharing of the story on social media. An image taken in Zambia of the apparently dry Victoria Falls was widely circulated and purported to show the Falls as a whole.

However, the large fluctuation of the Zambezi River’s water levels are part of a normal annual occurrence. The huge variation at Victoria Falls is far more than in most of the world’s major waterfalls. The minimum flow, which occurs in November, is on average a mere tenth of the maximum April figure. Source- Wikipedia

Zambezi Water Levels
Rough Guide to annual water levels showing the general trend of water levels in a typical year. (image courtesy Zambezi Helicopter Company).

This phenomenon means that viewing the waterfall at different times of the year produces vastly different experiences- and it’s definitely worth seeing both. In high flow the entire length of the Falls is a thundering wall of falling water whereas in low water the underlying structure can be seen and visibility is far better. Compare the images below of the Falls in October above and in May below.

The Victoria Falls in low flow
The Victoria Falls in low flow
 The Victoria Falls in high flow
The Victoria Falls in high flow

The Zambezi river, upstream from the falls, experiences a rainy season from late November to early April, and a dry season the rest of the year. The river’s annual flood season is February to May with a peak in April.

The Zambezi River is at its lowest in approximately November or early December in most years. At times of low water the water of the Falls is concentrated mainly towards the Zimbabwean side as that side of the Falls is deeper. As the dry season takes effect up to half of the rocky face of the falls may become dry and the bottom of the First Gorge can be seen along most of its length.

Victoria Falls Water Levels
The difference in flow at peak levels varies far more than the flow at low levels.

Currently in January 2016 we are about 15cm below the average water level of the Zambezi river at Victoria Falls at this time of the year. The river started rising on the 13/11/15 which is normal. Since Christmas the river has been rising 1/2cm a day.

In high flow the entire length of the Falls is a thundering wall of falling water. Compare the images below of the Falls in October above and in May below.

Below are some more images of the Falls in past years showing the vast difference in water levels that occur each year.

Spotlight on ‘Tawanda’

A barista is defined simply as ‘a person, usually a coffeehouse employee, who prepares and serves espresso-based coffee drinks.’ Tawanda Dube is one of the employees at The Lookout Café and the definition above does apply to him in the true sense.

However Tawanda also has something more- a real passion for the work he is doing. The Lookout Cafe’s espresso machine arrived a few months ago and Tawanda began learning the art of coffee making. He was immediately drawn to it and says he loves making art from coffee. After making me a perfectly delicious cappuccino Tawanda drew out his cell phone and showed me the only videos on it- of how to make coffee art, how to clean the machine and more. ‘One day’ he said proudly as he showed me a video of a man shaping a flower by pouring milk into espresso ‘I will make you a coffee like that!’

I don’t doubt he will with his passion to learn in his spare time and wanted to take the time to say that it doesn’t go unnoticed.  Thank you Tawanda for your hard work!