Sunday, December 19, 2010

Adventures in Zambia

Here I am writing the first update on my adventures in Africa at the Jollyboy’s Backpackers Camp in Livingstone, Zambia.

It has been consistently above 100 degrees here the last couple weeks, but luckily we are well equipped with a small pool and cold showers. World Class Kayak Academy, consisting of nine students, four teachers and one intern flew into Johannesburg, South Africa just three weeks ago. After spending one night in Johannesburg and recuperating from the fifteen hour flight, half the group flew another two hours north to Livingstone, Zambia, where we would be staying for the next four weeks.

Loading up bags to drive to Livingstone

While waiting for the second half of the group to arrive, I spent two relaxing days sitting by the pool enjoying the hot African sun and thinking little about school and lots about the upcoming Zambezi River Gorge.

Victoria Falls or Mosi-oa-Tunya

With downtown about a ten minute walk from our camp, I spent lots of time cruising the markets, hanging out with the locals and getting to know Livingstone.

After two days of hanging out at Jollyboys camp, the second half of the group arrived, and it was time for our first run down the Zambezi River.

Looking down at rapid #2 and #3

The section of river that we would be paddling consists of twenty five rapids located just below the famous Mosi-oa-Tunya or Victoria Falls. The first day the group paddled rapids 1-10, a section containing lots of fun waves, a big boof and the notorious rapid #9 that got lots of looks but left everyone walking around.

The epic daily hike in and out of the gorge

The next day we found our way down rapids 7-14 enjoying around 20,000cfs of water pumping through the gorge and a beautiful wave at rapid number twelve that we would spend the majority of our time on.

The drive to the put-in

The next few days we studied and paddled various sections of the Zambezi River getting accustomed with the huge volume and powerful river. With water levels a few inches lower than the beginning of our trip, a line slowly started to appear through rapid number nine. For days the massive drop got lots of looks until my Spanish teacher, Orion Chapman finally decided to give ‘er. After watching Orion and Jason Craig both style their way through the two part drop, I hopped in my Agent and gave it a go. Finding my line down the narrow tongue through the first hole on river right, I sprinted to the left shore to avoid the man eating whole in the center and stay away from the body breaking rocks on the right side.

Looking into the depths of the Zambezi

As water levels slowly lowered, rapid twelve B turned into a beautiful river wide wave/hole. The left shoulder, if you can get there, is adynamic wave that constantly changes shape. The wave will flatten out for a few seconds, putting you on the very top of the pile, then crashes down giving you huge boost of speed and a couple huge bounces setting you up to throw massive air screws, pan-ams and huge blunts.

Jason Craig, doing what he does best on twelve B.

Hiking down to paddle rapids 1-10, the group decided to take a detour and check out the minus rapids. The minus rapids are literally right at the bottom of the magnificent Mosi-oa-Tunya or Victoria Falls.

A taste of the notorious minus rapids

After twenty minutes of scouting the two "minus rapids" my Spanish teacher Orion Chapman decided to fire them up. Making his way down the lead in rapid, he got pushed a little farther right than he was hoping and ended up going super deep in the massive river right pour-over.

Orion, finding his way down minus one

No one is exactly sure what happened from here but we think that he hit his head somewhere on the bottom of the river. Dazed and confused, Orion bobbed down the second rapid, flipped in one of the massive holes and sub-consciously pulled his skirt and swam the rest of the second rapid. Safety boaters picked up him and his boat and brought him to shore. With blood gushing down his face and obviously concussed, we carried him back out of the gorge and off to a hospital. The doctors at the local hospital checked him out and he was OK, with only a minor concussion and a black eye.

Looking up at the gorge that forms Mosi-oa-Tunya or Victoria Falls

After our little wake up call to safety, the Zambezi kept the rest of the group safe for our last two weeks in Zambia and everyone enjoyed our daily surf sessions on twelve B. As our stay in Zambia came to an end, everyone was anxious to paddle the massive waves and drops of the White Nile River. Before we knew it we were on our way to the Lusaka airport, soon to depart to our next adventure in Uganda.

The group hanging out in a local village

Elephants X-ing

Eating lunch at a local village

A Baboon and her baby