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The Zambezi River – Zambia’s Finest Safari Feature

The Zambezi is the fourth largest river in Africa. crossing central Africa for about 3000 km. The river originates from a small stream in the upper northwest corner of Zambia and then flows through Angola and borders Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe before finally crossing into Mozambique where it empties its waters into the Indian Ocean through a Delta.

The Zambezi River ebbs and flows with the season. If there is prolonged rain, the river swells and bursts its banks in certain areas displacing thousands of people. On the other hand, if there is no rain, the waters recede. The river is divided into three parts. the upper Zambezi, the middle Zambezi and the lower Zambezi.

Although the river has a lot to offer with every square kilometer it passes, it has its best features in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Perhaps the most impressive feature along the Zambezi is the magnificent Victoria Falls. Known locally as “Mosi-oa-Tunya” (the smoke that thunders), Victoria Falls is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The deafening roar of the falls as millions of liters of water tumble down its rocky cliff can be heard from meters away. A glistening blanket of mist rises from the falling water which makes the sight even more enchanting.

The best time to tour the falls is during the dry winter season which lasts from July to August. Around the rainy season, the blanket of fog becomes so thick that it makes it impossible to catch a glimpse of the falls. Peak dry season is also not the best because the falls are at their dullest during this time. If you wish, you can take a helicopter ride and see the falls from everywhere. However, most people prefer the experience from the ground where they can feel the spray of the falls on their faces. If you plan to see the falls from the ground, carry a raincoat as you’re bound to get soaked, however most people get by on it.

In close proximity to the falls is the large Victoria Falls Bridge. The bridge is a precious piece of fine architecture that connects Zambia and Zimbabwe, while also offering an expansive view of the Zambezi and the adjacent rainforests. The most popular activity on the bridge is bungee jumping. The drop is 111 meters long, making it the second longest bungee distance in the world. Other notable sights along the Zambezi include the extensive Kariba and Cahora Bassa Dams.

The Kariba Dam in Zambia, boasts 300 km. The Cahora Bassa Dam is located in Mozambique and is 20 km shorter than Kariba, with a width of 280 km. Both dams are deep and quite popular for their sport fishing activities. You can choose to fish from the banks or take to the water in a canoe. The most common fish in these areas are the Tiger fish which can grow up to 10 kg, the yellow-bellied bream and the red-breasted bream among others.

Apart from fishing, the dams also provide the local community with enough water for irrigation for those involved in agriculture along the river. Dams are also a source of hydroelectric power. The Kariba Dam supplies electricity to Zambia and Zimbabwe while the Cahora Bassa Dam supplies power to both Mozambique and South Africa.

There are many game parks and game reserves along the length of the Zambezi and they offer some of the best safaris in Africa. The most popular of these include Zambezi National Park, Victoria Falls National Park, Mana Pools Park and Wide Horizons Elephant Camp. Here, visitors can watch a wide variety of wildlife along game drives or in fenced and controlled reserves. The activity for which the Zambezi is world famous is its numerous white water rafting expeditions. The Zambezi’s rocky beds and steep, canyon terrain as well as pressure pools provide an excellent flowing lane for the thrilling rapids.

The Zambezi rapids are classified as grade five, which means they are very difficult to negotiate, very fast, violent and unpredictable, with no clear pattern that a negotiator can get used to making each trip different from the next. The rapids are also popular because they have minimal bare rock that allays fears of injury, thus allowing kayakers to get the most out of the experience.

There is a wide variety of hotels and guesthouses to choose from along the Zambezi. They range from outdoor tents and camping shelters with mattresses to five-star luxury hotels. Whichever you choose, they all promise different adventures that are sure to make your stay unforgettable. Some of the more popular hotels and lodges include: Royal Livingstone Hotel, Tongabezi Lodge and Thorn Tree Lodge in Victoria Falls. Mwambashi River Reserve, Kasaka River Reserve and Mtondo River Camp are good options for those who want to be close to the river and around wild game. And for those who want to spend their days fishing in Lake Kariba, Chete Island Luxury Tented Safari Lodge and Chikanka Island Hotel would be good choices for you.

There are many towns and settlements along the Zambezi River. The main ones include; Katima Mulilo in Namibia, Mongu, Lukulu and Livingstone in Zambia, Victoria Falls and Kariba in Zimbabwe and finally Songo and Tete in Mozambique. Interestingly, over 70 different languages ​​are spoken by the people along the Zambezi. Most of these indigenous people depend on the Zambezi for their livelihood and have a fascinating culture as well as unique practices. The Bundu people of Zambia, for example, believe that there is a living spirit called Nyaminyami in the river. They believe that the spirit offers them protection and therefore regularly perform rituals on the river bank to appease the spirit.

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