One of the biggest draws of Zambia as a tourist destination is undoubtedly adrenaline activities. Bungee Jumping, Bridge Swinging, White Water Rafting… etc. etc. Activities that make you wonder whether or not you’re going to live another day. Now I’m all for getting up and doing something exciting when visiting a different country, but staring potential death in the face isn’t my thing. Rafting was kind of my limit on my arrival in Livingstone.
The reason rafting was my limit is mainly due to my previous experience of rafting in Australia and Slovenia. Rafting in Slovenia was tame. Almost relaxing… more like a little paddle down a mid-paced river in an over-sized dinghy. Australia was a bit scarier. The rapids were, well, rapids, and my heart beat faster with adrenaline fueled anticipation of the next bumpy ride.
In both of these experiences, I stayed in the boat until I decided to get out. The only time I was in the water is when I consciously decided to remove myself from inflatable safety, it was an active decision and I was prepared for it, dammit. I clung on for dear life when I thought there was even the slightest possibility of being thrown into the water, and with great success.
This is what I expected of rafting on the Zambezi river. Alas, no. Unbeknownst to me, the Zambezi is one of the most extreme places to raft in the entire world. Even if I had have known this, I could never have imagined the sheer intensity of this experience…
The first half of my day was spent semi-drowned in class 5 rapids. This, for once, is no exaggeration. Our boat wasn’t properly inflated, thus making it flimsy and giving our group of 6 rafting novices no chance when we hit any of the rapids. Class two? In the water, attempting to swim back to the raft. Class 5? Being flung to the roaring white waters like paper dolls being thrown into the wind. After the first two near-death experiences, it’s safe to say that I wasn’t particularly enthused for the next 7 hours of close calls.
The second half of the day, however, was fine. We swapped boats, I didn’t fall out again, my feet touched dry land after a few hours and I lived to tell the tale. I was happy I did it, and will probably do it again. The next day my two travel amigos decided to voluntarily throw themselves off the third biggest bungee jump in the world after jumping in the devil’s bathtub – a pool literally on the edge of the second biggest waterfall in the world. These are big statistics being thrown out here. Huge. Humongous some might say.
Aaaaaaand statistics I don’t particularly care to involve myself in. I’d had enough adrenaline with my rafting experience, and was quite content to watch from the sidelines. This doesn’t sit so well with the people mad enough to go for it, however, leading to peer pressure to the max. Even if the words aren’t spoken out loud, you can sense the pressure. The general consensus that you have to do it. Eyes screaming for you to DO IT?!!!!!!! You will regret it for the rest of your LIFE?!??!?!?!!!!
Two years ago these looks would have made me cave, and I would be crying all the way to the edge of the bungee bridge, probably throwing up on the way down, and regretting every second of it. But no longer. I’m content with seeing other people’s pictures. I’m no adrenaline junkie. The hardest thing is not saying ‘No thanks, I’d prefer to not instill a sense of pure terror within myself today”, but trying to get everyone else to accept that it’s just not compulsory.