The Zambezi is Africaís fourth largest River system, after the Nile, Zaire and Niger Rivers. It runs through six countries on itís journey from central Africa to the Indian Ocean. Its unique value is that it is less developed than others in terms of human settlement and many areas along itís banks enjoy protected status.
It's power has carved the spectacular Victoria Falls and the zigzagging Batoka Gorge.
The Zambezi has been harnessed at various points along the way including the massive Kariba Dam between Zambia and Zimbabwe and Cabora Bassa Dam in Mozambique. Plans for another dam at the Batoka gorge have fortunately been shelved.
The Riverís beauty has attracted tourists from all over the world providing opportunities for a myriad of water sports and game viewing.
Running for a length of 2700kms, it begins itís journey as an insignificant little spring in the corner of north-west Zambia in the Mwinilunga District. It bubbles up between the roots of a tree, very close to the border where Zambia, Angola and Zaire meet.
It enters Angola for about 230kms, where it accumulates the bulk of its headwater drainage, and re-enters Zambia again at Cholwezi rapids flowing due south but substantially enlarged by the entry of various tributaries.
This upper part of the river is thinly populated by pastoralists, farmers and fishermen and although wildlife is sparse it is remarkably free of pollution. This is also the scene of the remarkable Ku-omboka Ceremony where thousands of inhabitants move annually to higher ground as the Zambezi floods into the low lying plains.
It passes through the flat sandy country of the Western Province, then traverses the broad, annually flooding Barotse Plains, where much of the water is lost to evaporation, then over more rocky country where itís tranquil course is interrupted by the Ngonye falls and rapids.
As it turns to an easterly direction it forms the border between Zambia and Namibia and eventually joins up with the Chobe River in the Caprivi Swamps, briefly forming a border with Botswana.
For the next 500kms it serves as the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe thundering over the Victoria Falls and through the narrow, steadily deepening Batoka Gorge, providing a fantastic playground for white water rafting, kayaking, river boarding and jet boating.
From here the steep sides of the gorge eventually flatten out at the broad Gwembe Valley.
Then it flows into the Kariba dam for 281kms - itís width at one point being 40kms.
From the dam wall the river travels due north, heading east again at Chirundu.
Here it is flanked by the Lower Zambezi National Park on the Zambian side and Mana Pools National Park on the Zimbabwean side. This middle zone supports one of Africaís most important wilderness areas.
After the Luangwa confluence, itís a much larger Zambezi that flows into Mozambique and out towards the Indian Ocean, having provided power, food, pleasure and transport for many and a home for untold numbers of wildlife along itís journey.
These companies operate Adventure Activities on the Zambezi
Abseil Zambia, Abseiling the sheer gorges of Victoria Falls
African Extreme Bungi Jumping, Victoria Falls Bridge
Bundu Adventures, Rafting, Canoeing, River Boarding on the Zambezi River
Raft Extreme Rafting, Riverboarding and Tandem Kayaking below the Victoria Falls
Karibu Safaris, Canoeing safaris along the Lower Zambezi
Kiambe Safaris - run canoeing Safaris on the Lower Zambezi River
The Zambezi Swing, Gorge Swings and cliff jumps
River Horse Safaris - The Zambezi Canoe Company. Specialists in multi-day canoe safaris on the Lower Zambezi
Global Descents offers an amazing multi-day river trip on the mighty Zambezi! Putting in below Vic falls this expedition offers incredible food, camping, wildlife, and whitewater. Get away from it all on one of the 4 or 6 day excursions. These small group trips are done in September and October when the water of the Zambezi is at the perfect level.
For accommodation on the Zambezi try:Lower Zambezi National Park area
Victoria Falls area
Accommodation at Lake Kariba