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Think Rafting the Zambezi is Too Hardcore? Think Again.
This week we sat down with Hamish McMaster of Water by Nature who shared with us what makes the Zambezi River in Zambia, Africa his “favorite river in the world”.
Hamish is one of our newest partners, but his company has been offering exceptional expeditions for over a decade. As a native kiwi of New Zealand, Hamish has a deep rooted history in river running and loves offering our clients authentic, immersive experiences.
Q. What makes the Zambezi a special trip?
A. Our Zambezi trip is an adventure where all the elements just work. We have dialed in the entire expedition to be incredible and comfortable for our guests. People often have this idea of the Zambezi that it’s un-runnable and unbelievably difficult, but that’s not the case at all. People need to realize they CAN do this; it’s not hardcore. Don’t watch Youtube videos and if you do, watch our videos! It’s big and its fun, but it’s not extreme. And the warm water makes it so much more enjoyable. I actually got married on this river, so that should show the love I have for this very special place. It’s my favorite river in the world.
Q. What is your favorite aspect of this adventure?
A. On the first day, we have an awesome lunch just below Victoria Falls where the trip begins. You cannot beat this setting, and the sharing and connecting before we begin our adventure is just top notch. This really gives us a chance to somewhat retrace the steps of Dr. David Livingston and Livingston Island, and share some history on that as we enjoy our meal together.
Q. What are a few of the important things to consider if a person is thinking about doing a Zambezi trip?
A. I would say if you are going to do this trip, definitely arrive a day early. This will give you the opportunity to visit Devils Pool at the top of Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, which I can’t recommend enough. Devils Pool forms at the edge of the Falls in the dry season, and you can actually swim in the pool and sit literally at the edge of a 100 meter drop. It’s a spectacular experience! As quoted by Livingston when he first saw the Falls “scenes so lovely they must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.”
Another great thing about arriving early, is having the opportunity to join us on our Sunset Cruise on the Upper Zambezi that we do the day before our rafting adventure begins. We arrange the logistics for both Devils Pool and the Sunset Cruise for our guests, and highly recommend that our clients take advantage of this incredible experience before the trip even begins.
Q. What is some of the wildlife you can count on seeing?
A. On the river you will pretty much see crocodile, hippos (on the seven day trip), and a wide array of bird species. As far as the crocodile and hippo sightings, guests should not be fearful. The crocodiles do not hang out around active whitewater and in the stretches of smooth water we encounter, guests do not swim here. We also do not swim in the calm waters of our campsites. We’ve been doing this so long, we really know how to be as safe as possible and know what to do to avoid situations with wildlife that may cause danger of any kind. It’s actually very exciting to see crocodiles on the river!
On the Zambezi Blast expedition, which includes a safari after your river trip, you will see all the iconic Africa safari wildlife that you would expect; buffalo, lions, cheetahs, zebras, giraffes…all of it is very likely.
Q. What feedback from guests do you hear the most often after they’ve taken this adventure with you? The thing that stuck with them the most?
A. Honestly, people always say, “that was the best adventure we have ever had”. We very rarely hear anything different. This adventure really changes people’s lives.
One thing that my father said when I got him on the Zambezi for my wedding was that he felt he had been here before. And that was just the best compliment he could have said. Africa sometimes gets a bad rep, but really it is a friendly place full of amazing people, wildlife, and scenery. And being on this trip is like putting on a pair of your favorite house slippers; comfort and ease. The locals, our guides, everyone you encounter in Zambia, are friends who are happy to not only share their stories, but learn yours too.