While it may not be the largest river in Africa, the Zambezi, which carves through six countries including Zambia, is one of the continent’s most powerful and most scenic. As a result, this rushing river attracts visitors from across the globe—including travelers with a love of extreme water sports looking for adventure. The fourth-largest river in Africa is divided into three main parts, and Victoria Falls is typically considered the boundary between the upper and middle Zambezi. Here, the thundering river flows over falls, into the Boiling Point and through the narrow Batoka Gorge, where it provides some of the most exhilarating white water rafting, kayaking and river boating on earth. Non-adrenaline junkies can still enjoy the beauty of the Zambezi by floating along on a sunset river cruise.
The Zambezi River Festival, now in its third year, takes place the last week of October, and includes plenty of races, competitions and adventures perfect for water sport lovers. Visitors looking to raft the Zambezi should be prepared to swim, and also be fit enough to hike the 750 feet vertical climb out of the gorge.
Mosi-Oa-Tunya, or 'the smoke which thunders,' refers to the iconic Victoria Falls that give this national park in Zambia its native name. Located along the upper Zambezi River, Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park houses half of the waterfall, as well as 41 square miles (66 square kilometers) of protected land rich with biodiversity.
Most visitors come to see the falls, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the world’s largest curtain of falling water. There are a host of clearly marked and well-kept paths that wind through towering forests, and from the Zambian side of the falls, visitors can cross Knife-edge Bridge for spectacular views of the main falls. Outdoor adventurists can make the steep descent into the Boiling Pot and watch whitewater rafters board for a wild ride on the Zambezi River.
While the waterfalls are certainly a highlight of the national park, there’s also an entire section dedicated to wildlife-spotting, where travelers can book a game drive. Depending on the time of year, it’s possible to spot zebras, giraffes, antelope, warthogs, many species of birds and rare rhinos. The national park also serves as an important point for elephants to cross the Zambezi River, so they’re often sighted as well.
Be sure to pack a waterproof jacket and protective camera cover to keep the fall’s mist from destroying your equipment and your attitude.