|MEETING PLACE:||Livingstone International Airport, Zambia|
|MEETING TIME:||Arrive by 2:00 PM or earlier on day 1|
|RETURN TIME:||Day 8 for flights departing after 12:00PM|
|RIVER RATING:||Class V|
|AGE LIMIT:||Minimum age is 16|
|TRIP LENGTH:||8 days / 7 nights|
|ACTIVITIES:||Rafting, Wildlife Safari|
Deep in the Batoka Gorge, bathed in the mist from the legendary Victoria Falls, begins a journey full of excitement. The Zambezi River is home to some of the most notorious whitewater in the world, perfect for adrenaline seekers. The combination of spectacular scenery, fascinating wildlife and unique African culture makes this trip a must-do for true adventure travelers!
Home to one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls, Zambia enamors all who visit this wonderful and diverse country. As soon as you arrive in Livingstone, Africa’s adventure capital, you’ll be charmed and well-looked after by the wonderful local people.
Enjoy the “best of the best” on this adventure with four days of excellent, whitewater action, stunning beaches and an incredible helicopter ride through the Batoka gorge, combined with two days on safari, watching Africa’s fascinating and unusual selection of wildlife—elephant, hippo, buffalo, zebra, lion, hyena, crocodile, sable antelope, impala and an impressive number of bird species. This is truly a trip of a lifetime!
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every trip is different depending upon the group, other trips on the water and sometimes the weather. The following is a sample of what your trip might be like:
Day 1: Arrive Livingstone, Zambia / Sunset river cruise
You will be met upon arrival at Livingstone Airport and transported to the David Livingstone Safari Lodge, where you will have an opportunity to relax on the deck by the river and adjust to the different time zone. If you’re not feeling too jet-lagged, consider a visit to one of the seven natural wonders of the world—Victoria Falls. This two kilometer-wide waterfall drops 100 feet down into a narrow gorge creating a spectacular view and some of the most exciting whitewater on the planet.
For your early evening entertainment, we’ll meet in the hotel lobby at 3:45 PM and embark on a cruise on the upper section of the Zambezi River, giving you a chance to watch the African sun set behind the ancient Baobab trees. Hopefully we will get glimpses of elephants and buffalo on the banks and pods of hippos relaxing in the water. This is a wonderful way to unwind, meet the rest of your group and get a feel for the delights of Africa.
Later this evening there will be a group meeting where you’ll have the opportunity to meet your guides, pick-up your dry bags and get an overview of your next seven days. Sleep tight, for the Mighty Zambezi awaits!
David Livingstone Safari Lodge
Day 2: The Mighty Zambezi River Adventure Begins
We will meet for breakfast at a time agreed upon the previous evening. With all valuables locked up safely in the hotel and all dry bags packed for the days ahead, it is now time to head to the base of the falls for the start of our river adventure!
The Batoka Gorge provides a magnificent backdrop for our safety briefing before we don our high-float PFD’s and practice our paddling techniques in the warm water of the river. Our epic journey begins with “Morning Glory,” a real eye opener, before one of the biggest commercially run rapids in the world, “Stairway to Heaven.” This is a day of unparalleled fun, with rapids such as “Gulliver’s Travels” and “Midnight Diner,” which features one of the biggest waves you will see on any river. This is expedition rafting at its best and consequently some rapids we are not able to run in a raft, but our kayakers will delight you as they take on the likes of “Commercial Suicide,” a great spot for photos. We will transfer the rafts around this rapid then continue downstream to our fitting finale, “The Gnashing Jaws of Death.”
A secluded, sandy beach is our camp for the night, where your guides will create a feast upon which you can celebrate your first day on the river. It is now time to relax, watch the sun disappear behind the basalt cliffs and enjoy our first night under the stars.
Riverside camping B, L, D
Day 3: The Zambezi River
After a hearty breakfast, we load all our equipment into the rafts and the fun continues. Our morning’s entertainment begins with rapids known as “Creamy White Buttocks” and “The Mother.” Our guides will explain how they got their names, if you don’t manage to work it out for yourselves. The highlight today is one of the most famous commercially run rapids and one of the most thrilling of rides, “Number 18,” also called “Oblivion.” It isn’t the first wave that gets you, nor the second, but the third crashing wave that normally has all the photographers poised, ready to capture your big moment. We’ll arrive to camp on a gorgeous expanse of sand a little further downstream and prepare dinner while admiring the fish eagles gracefully soaring overhead.
Riverside camping B, L, D
Day 4: The Zambezi River
To ensure we are all fully awake, our first rapid, “Morning Shower” provides us with just that: an invigorating burst of refreshing whitewater. The river begins to widen today but that doesn’t mean that the rapids get any smaller, especially with one of the more technical and exhilarating rapids to conquer, “Open Season.” A huge adrenaline rush is a certain recipe to stimulate our appetites while we polish off the fresh salads prepared for lunch. The afternoon brings along “Chamamba” and the outstanding ride through “Upper Moemba,” after which we’ll stop at a glorious beach for the night within sight of the magnificent Lower Moemba Falls. Here we can sit back and enjoy the beauty of this majestic section of the river while recounting the day’s events.
Riverside camping B, L, D
Day 5: The Zambezi River / Helicopter Flight Over the Canyon
Today we portage the rafts over Lower Moemba Falls, a rapid that we will not be able to run, and drift downstream for an hour. We will pass the site for the joint Zambia / Zimbabwe power project, which threatens the entire section that we have been rafting the previous three days. At Chabango Falls (our final mandatory portage) we will unload all our gear from the rafts and have a tasty lunch in the shade before yet another highlight of our whitewater trip.
With our now empty rafts re-launched on the river, we may get the chance to run the longest and one of the biggest rapids on the Zambezi, “Ghostrider.” This adrenaline-charged ride provides a fitting climax to our journey. On the riverbank our helicopters are waiting to transport us back to Livingstone. This is an incredible experience. You will be flying back up the magnificent Batoka Gorge with a bird’s-eye view of the rapids you have run, before being dropped-off at a beautiful lodge overlooking the river.
You have rafted one of the classic rivers of the world–well done! We will spend the night at the Taita Falcon Lodge with its breathtaking views over the rim of the canyon and enjoy a celebratory evening. There is time for a shower before meeting up to share all our experiences over dinner. Believe us, you will be feeling exhilarated from an experience that is out of this world!
Taita Falcon Lodge B, L, D
Day 6: Chobe National Park, Botswana
We will enjoy a gorgeous view this morning over a leisurely breakfast at the lodge. We then travel to the Kazungula border point with Botswana, pass through immigration and continue on to Chobe National Park. The afternoon will be spent on a safari tour. Chobe National Park is famous for its huge herds of elephants, as well as antelope, hippos, baboons and lions. Time permitting, we’ll enjoy a sunset safari before returning to our tent cabins overlooking a watering hole.
Wildtrack Safaris Eco Lodge B, L, D
Day 7: Chobe National Park
Awaken to the real sounds of Africa and an early morning safari, the perfect time to see lions and leopards before the heat of the day’s sun drives them into the shade. After the safari, we will return to the lodge for breakfast. We’ll have the late morning to relax, read, or maybe cool off with a shower before lunch. This afternoon we head out for more wildlife viewing before enjoying pre-dinner drinks looking out on the African plains and the setting sun. Enjoy a delicious evening meal at the lodge, then sit outside and watch the wild visitors at the watering hole.
Wildtrack Safaris Eco Lodge B, L, D
Day 8: Chobe National Park and Return to Livingstone
During breakfast we may have one last chance to see Botswana’s unique wildlife before packing our bags and enjoying the scenic drive to the border. You will be transported back to the Livingstone International Airport for your departing flight. You will arrive at the airport in time for flights departing after 12:00 PM.
Included in Your Trip Cost
- Skilled, professional guide service provided by our affiliate operator
- All meals from breakfast day 2 through breakfast day 8 (indicated as B – breakfast, L – lunch, D – dinner)
- 3 nights catered camping
- 4 nights lodging (based on double occupancy)
- Waterproof bags to hold your gear for the trip
- Two-person tents on a shared basis (you may pay a fee for a single-occupancy tent)
- Sleep kit—consisting of a sleeping bag, sleeping pad and chair.
- Personal flotation device (PFD) which must be worn at all times on the river in compliance with safety regulations
- Eating utensils, cups and plates
- Highest quality inflatable rafts and related equipment
- Transfers from and to Livingstone Airport on scheduled arrival and departure dates
- All park fees and necessary permits
- Gratuities for incidental services, such as bell-boys, drivers, servers, etc.
- 27-oz Klean Kanteen water bottle
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Transportation to and from Livingstone, Zambia
- Pre- and post-trip accommodations and meals
- Alcoholic drinks
- Single supplement fee
- Zambia Visitor’s Visa: $80 for a double-entry visa is required for the OARS itinerary (a multi-day visa may be necessary for extended pre- or post-trip travel)
- Airport taxes and fees
- Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan or mandatory emergency medical & evacuation coverage
- Items of a personal nature and equipment outlined in personal equipment list
- Gratuities for a lead guide, rafting guides and safari guide
- Video/DVD of your river trip (not guaranteed and pricing at the discretion of the videographer)
- Optional activities in/around Livingstone (ask your OARS Adventure Consultant for more details)
TRIP PREPARATION CHECK LIST
☐ Consider Purchasing Travel Protection: We recommend the purchase of the OARS Travel Protection Plan to help protect you before and during your trip. A travel protection plan can help with reimbursement of your non-refundable payments in the event you have to cancel your trip due to listed reasons such as a covered illness or injury. Because we begin working to prepare for your trip upon receipt of your deposit and may be turning other prospective guests away while holding space for you, there are cancellation fees that will apply regardless of why or when you might need to cancel. We list the cost for the optional OARS Travel Protection Plan on your trip invoice.
10-Day Free Look Period: This stipulation allows you to cancel your travel protection plan within 10 days from your effective date of coverage or before your scheduled departure date, whichever comes sooner. OARS will refund all of your premiums paid if you cancel coverage within the time specified, provided you have not already filed a claim under the travel protection plan. Effective date refers to 12:01 AM the day after the policy premium is paid.
Insurance coverages are underwritten by Arch Insurance Company, NAIC #11150, under policy series LTP 2013 and endorsements thereto. Policies are administered by Arch Insurance Solutions Inc., 855-286-8351, CA license #0I18111, TX license #1787195. Your policy is the contract that specifically and fully describes your coverage. Certain restrictions and exclusions apply and coverages may vary in certain states. Please refer to your policy for detailed terms and conditions; online at: https://www.oars.com/tpp
Consumer disclosures can be found at: https://oars.archinsurancesolutions.com/disclosures
Please note, we require all participants have a minimum of emergency medical evacuation coverage to participate. This coverage can be purchased as a stand-alone policy, or is typically included in a travel protection plan. If you don’t have proof of coverage at the start of the trip, you cannot take part in the expedition. For a basic policy that includes coverage for emergency medical and evacuation situations, visit www.oars.com/tmp
☐ Trip Forms (online): Each participant will need to complete the required trip forms within two weeks of making a booking. Refer to your confirmation e-mail for the link to the online forms. If you prefer to fill out paper forms, please let us know right away. If you are reserving within 90 days of departure, your forms must be completed immediately to ensure we can properly plan for your trip.
☐ Reserve flights, shuttles and lodging: Verify with your Adventure Consultant that your trip has met minimum numbers prior to booking flights and/or reserving overnight lodging for the night before and after your trip, if applicable.
☐ Whitewater Orientation: To increase your safety, we expect everyone to watch our 23-minute Whitewater Orientation video before joining us. Watch at https://www.oars.com/experience/safety/ or call 800-346-6277 to request a free DVD. Please don’t leave home without watching.
☐ Physical Requirements: Your outdoor adventure will be an active participatory trip. Please inform us of any physical limitation you may have as soon as possible. Make sure you are exercising frequently in the months leading up to your trip.
☐ Payments: Final payment is due in our office 90 days prior to your trip (refer to your invoice for final payment date). Please let us know if you would like us to automatically charge your credit card on file when final payment is due.
Meeting Place & Time
You will be met by an OARS representative at the Livingstone Airport in Livingstone, Zambia, and provided transport to our hotel—the David Livingstone Safari Lodge. Attempt to arrive by 2:00 PM on day 1 of your trip to allow time to pass through immigration, customs, purchase your double-entry visa and check-in to our hotel—all prior to the sunset river cruise. A pre-trip meeting will be later in the evening, at the hotel. At the meeting, your trip leader will provide a thorough trip orientation, reconfirm the meeting time for the following morning and give you an opportunity to ask any last-minute questions.
Getting to Livingstone, Zambia
Livingstone’s Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport (LVI) is served daily by British Airways and South African Airways via Johannesburg (JNB), South Africa. Each flight is scheduled to arrive before 1:00 PM.
Delta, American Airlines, United Airlines, South African Airways, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, Turkish Airlines and others fly between the U.S. and Johannesburg, South Africa.
Note: flights from the U.S. depart one or two days prior to your arrival date in Livingstone. Return flights arrive back in the U.S. one day later than your departure from Livingstone.
Let us know if you’d like assistance with arranging your international flight logistics. Our partners at Exito Travel specialize in international destinations and we’d be happy to obtain a quote from them on your behalf.
After Your Trip
On the final day of your adventure, you will be returned to the Livingstone International Airport at approximately 11:00 AM for flights departing after 1:00 PM (most flights depart to JNB about this time).
Pre- and Post-Trip Accommodations
Your first night accommodation is included in the trip. If you decide to arrive a day or two early, we recommend that you make reservations well in advance in order to guarantee lodging—Livingstone is a popular destination. While there are many accommodation options in Livingstone, we recommend staying at the David Livingstone Safari Lodge (the included accommodation on day 1 of your trip). Please let us know if you would like OARS to book additional nights at the lodge (pre- and post-trip lodging is not included in the trip cost).
Essential Travel Documents
If you don’t have a passport, apply for one immediately because the process can be lengthy. If you do have a passport, find it and check the expiration date to see that it is valid for at least 6 months from your planned entry into Zambia. It also must have at least two blank pages. Make a photocopy of the photo page of your passport and carry it separately from your passport. It is also a good idea to leave a copy with your emergency contact at home. We also request that you send us a copy to keep on file for emergencies during your trip. If your passport is lost or stolen, a photocopy will help the local consulate speed up authorization for replacement. Do not pack your passport in your checked luggage.
A visa is required for entry into Zambia. A visa is not required for entry into South Africa or Botswana if the planned visit is for 90 days or less. As this trip also visits Botswana, you will require a double-entry visa for Zambia. A double-entry visa can be obtained at the Livingstone Airport upon arrival and costs US$80 (Visa and MasterCard are accepted).
Depending on other travel plans, or if you plan to visit the Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls, you may need a multiple-entry visa for your return to Zambia or a KAZA visa for entry into Zimbabwe. A multiple-entry visa must be arranged in advance. While not required for the OARS itinerary, you may need one depending on your travel plans. Information and applications are available at: www.zambiatourism.com/travel-info/visa-information and for the KAZA visa at: http://www.zambiatourism.com/media/KAZAvisa-Leaflet-Dec-2016.pdf
Mandatory Evacuation Insurance
We require that you purchase emergency medical evacuation insurance to participate in this expedition. For a policy that includes coverage for emergency medical and evacuation situations, visit www.oars.com/tmp
We strongly recommend that you protect yourself, your belongings, and your vacation through the purchase of a travel protection plan. We offer the OARS Travel Protection Plan to help protect you, your travel investment and your belongings before and during your trip. Travel Protection can reimburse you for non-refundable payments if you should have to cancel your trip for a covered reason such as your illness or the illness of an immediate family member. For complete details go online to: www.oars.com/tpp
The Zambezi River is at its best between August and November when water levels are dropping. As it offers Class IV-V whitewater, we recommend people considering this trip be experienced, strong paddlers. You may find yourself swimming a class IV-V rapid, which can be an overwhelming experience. Our guides may determine it’s in the group’s best interest to portage some rapids, depending on water levels and individual abilities.
Geography & Wildlife
There is a plentiful supply of opportunities in Southern Africa to experience some of the most amazing wildlife viewing found anywhere in the world. It would be a shame to come to this region and not visit the wide variety of parks available. We visit Chobe National Park in Botswana, widely acclaimed as having some of the best game viewing in Africa, where you can see a wide range of animals, including elephants, giraffes and lions! Here you will take several guided safari tours, giving you the opportunity to view the wildlife in their natural environments.
If you plan to arrive to Livingstone ahead of the trip, or extend your stay, there are several great excursions to keep you occupied. The popular visit to Livingstone Island takes you to the famous “Devils Pool” at the edge of Victoria Falls, take a microlight flight above the Batoka Gorge, bungee jump from the Vic Falls Bridge, or get up-close and personal with the local wildlife on a morning safari. Contact your OARS Adventure Consultant for details.
After each active day on the river, we pull ashore to camp for the night. Upon arrival, our first task is to unload the boats using a bag line of crew and passengers to expedite the process. Individuals then collect their waterproof bags and locate an area on the beach to camp for the night. On the first night in camp, a crew member will give a demonstration on setting up a tent, which you’ll see is quick and easy. The guides will set up the kitchen and central dining/seating area with camp chairs. They will also locate a secluded area away from camp to set up the portable toilet, where privacy is assured.
As dinner is being prepared by the guides, hors d’oeuvres will be served and you will have an opportunity to relax, enjoy a drink if you wish, and reflect on the day with your fellow traveling companions.
In the morning, the first wake-up call will let you know that coffee, hot water for tea or cocoa, juice, fresh fruit and cold cereal are ready on the hors d’oeuvres table. You can fill your mug and grab a bite, then begin to pack up your personal belongings and sleep gear as the guides prepare breakfast. After breakfast is served, the entire camp will be broken down and packing will be completed. The gear will then be loaded onto the boats and we’ll head downstream to see what new adventures await us.
The meals we serve are hearty and delicious, complete with fresh ingredients and a variety of foods. A typical morning on a multi-day trip might start with French toast, bacon, fruit, orange juice, and coffee or tea. Lunch might be a delicious spread of cold cuts and cheeses with several types of bread, or pitas stuffed with veggies and hummus. There are always cookies and a cooling drink to top it off. At dinner, our guides’ cooking skills truly shine—sizzling steaks or salmon, chicken enchiladas, and delicious pasta dishes are all part of their repertoire. Dinner generally includes a salad, and desserts are frequent. Hors d’oeuvres are a pleasant surprise before many meals.
We need to know as soon as possible about any dietary restrictions we should consider in planning your trip. If you have food allergies or restrictions, we will do our best to accommodate your needs.
Beyond our standard menu, we can provide options for vegetarian, vegan and many allergy-restricted diets. However, we cannot always provide the same diversity or sophistication for restricted diets as we do for our regular menu. Similarly, certain allergen-free snack foods are difficult or impossible to source in our locations, so feel free to bring your own favorite snacks to supplement our provisions.
We cannot guarantee that cross-contamination from allergens will not occur during meal prep, and reserve the right to refuse service to anyone as it relates to safety, including the potential for a medical emergency caused by a severe food allergy. Also, due to the constraints of cooking for a large group in a wilderness setting, availability of ingredients or specialty items in remote locations, and limited packing space, we are unable to cater to dietary preferences (likes or dislikes).
Beverages / Alcohol
The trip cost does not include alcohol. If you have specific beverage requests, please let us know in advance. At the pre-trip meeting, your trip leader will ask if you’d like alcoholic beverages at camp in the evenings on the river trip, and what your preference may be (beer, wine, etc). They will arrange the purchase and storage of the drinks and you can reimburse them accordingly. You may also like to purchase your favorite liquor via duty free before arriving into Livingstone. Note: Livingstone has a limited selection of liquors.
Alcoholic drinks will also be available for purchase at the hotel/lodge bar during your stay in Livingstone and on the safari. There may also be the occasional complimentary alcoholic (and non-alcoholic) ‘sundowner’ during a late afternoon game drive or river cruise.
We recommend you drink only bottled, previously boiled or treated water. Bottled water is widely available in Zambia, Botswana and South Africa. During the river trip, all water is filtered and treated.
Paddle Raft with Oar Assist—The most agile of any boat in the OARS fleet, your guide powers the raft with two hefty oars on a rear-mounted frame, while the crew wields single blade paddles up front for added horse-power. Helmets required. (Four to eight paddlers)
The Portable Toilet
While the idea of a river trip is appealing to most people, many are inhibited or reluctant because of modesty or uncertainty. To minimize our impacts, we carry out all solid human waste and use a portable toilet system that is set up each day at camp in a secluded location, a discrete distance from tent sites. It is essentially a toilet without plumbing and is available from the time you pull into camp each afternoon until you leave camp the next day.
We also carry a small container called the “day tripper” that can be easily accessed during the day should the need arise. It is a personal disposable toilet, which includes an odor-proof transport bag, chemical solidifier and odor eliminator, toilet paper and oversized hand wipe.
On popular stretches of wilderness rivers, the common refrain is “dilution is the solution to pollution.” We practice this approach by urinating in the river.
Bathing is not allowed in the river. The guides will set up a portable shower near camp. We recommend bringing a liquid biodegradable soap (such as Campsuds or Dr. Bronner’s) which can be purchased in most stores that have a camping section, or at your local health food store. Disposable anti-bacterial towelettes (Coleman Swash Cloths, baby wipes, etc.) are convenient, as well.
Electric voltage in Zambia, Botswana and South Africa is 220-240 volts. Electric devices designed for 110 volts will need the use of a power converter. These days, most electronics have an auto-volt (110v-240v) transformer built in that will adapt.
British three-prong plug outlets are commonly found, with two parallel flat pins and a ground pin above (type G). However, there is a wide range of plug outlets in use, so you’ll be best served by having a multi-plug adapter that can accommodate all types (such as types C, D, G, M and N).
For more information go to www.power-plugs-sockets.com/ where you can review the outlet types by country.
We provide a hard case on each boat to hold your camera and other items you might want during the day. It is secured in a readily accessible spot on the raft. While the cases are waterproof, you may wish to further protect your camera by placing it in a zip-lock plastic bag or special waterproof camera case. Sand can be a problem—plan to clean your camera with tissue, a brush and lens paper. We also strongly recommend you take out a rider on your homeowner’s policy to cover your camera—especially if it’s fine equipment. Make sure to bring additional memory cards, batteries and any other extras you will need.
Electronics & Technology
The use of electronic devices, especially music players and flying drones, on your trip may represent an intrusion into the wilderness experience of your fellow guests. We ask that you please be mindful of the impacts to others and respect the wilderness nature of the trip. Please bring headphones if you intend to listen to music on the trip and leave your drone at home.
Many of our guests travel with their smartphone even though there is no cell service. On a trip like this, there is always the risk of water damage to smartphones and other electronic devices, even when they are stowed in a dry bag. If you intend to take your phone with you on the river, consider investing in a small, waterproof container just for your phone.
While on the river, we are not able to provide a power source for recharging devices. To keep cameras, phones, GPS and other devices working you may need spare batteries or portable power. Options include compact portable solar panels that can recharge devices directly, portable power banks that store power, or a combo unit that can be charged before the trip and recharged with a built-in solar panel. Power is available at the lodges.
Once you are on the river, there is limited communication with the “outside world.” Our guides carry satellite phones which are strictly used to call out in case of an emergency situation on the river. They can call out, but we cannot call them. If you have someone that needs to contact you about an emergency at home, they should call our office (800-346-6277). If possible, we will relay the message to you. Keep in mind it could be several days or longer before the message actually reaches you. For your family at home you should define for them what you consider an emergency and provide them with instructions to call our office in the event one occurs during your vacation.
Internet is available at the David Livingstone Safari Lodge and the Wildtrack Safaris Eco Lodge. Internet at Taita Falcon Lodge is intermittent.
The local currency in Zambia is the Kwacha (ZMW). As most aspects of your trip are taken care of, the money you will need to bring is limited. You can pay for many items by credit card (at hotels and most restaurants), although we recommend travelling with a small amount of U.S. dollars in small denominations. ($10 and $20 notes are good). The Zambian Kwacha is only available inside Zambia, so you cannot purchase Kwacha prior to your trip. Kwacha can be obtained by exchanging U.S. dollars or at local ATM’s – at the airport or in town. We recommend being prepared to use a combination of credit card, Kwacha and U.S. dollars. We suggest having Kwacha for souvenirs, incidental gratuities or purchases at small shops.
There are ATM machines in Livingstone which will provide you with Zambian Kwacha. A more reliable method is to bring U.S. dollars to exchange at local banks or registered money changers. Most places will take either U.S. dollars or Zambian Kwacha. As a guideline, you can get a nice meal for around US$10 and a pretty cool Nyaminyami (Zambezi River God neck pendant) souvenir for around US$5. As a general rule, you should exchange your money with the local banks or foreign exchange bureau. Your guides will happy to do this on your behalf.
There are ATM’s available on the main street in Livingstone town where you can withdraw cash. If your credit card has been programmed with a PIN, it’s likely you can use an ATM to withdraw money as a cash advance. Always ask your bank before you leave home about the number of withdrawals you may make abroad, the limit each day, and also let them know where you are going so they do not put a hold on your card. You may be charged a fee for each transaction.
For the safari section of your trip, the local currency is the Botswana Pula (BWP). Any drinks etc may be paid for at the lodge in Botswana with a credit card. ATM’s are available in Botswana.
If you only have one credit card, VISA is the most widely accepted. A shopkeeper may require you to pay the credit card fee for purchases, so for the most ease, we recommend you use cash whenever possible. American Express is not accepted in general. Be sure to inform your bank that you’ll be using your card during your travels.
Recommended cash to bring is about US$350. You may need to have money available for the following:
- Gifts and souvenirs. Some meals, as outlined in the itinerary, and drinks.
- Gratuities (more information is below)
- Alcoholic beverages
- A trip video and/or photos (if available, we can not assure they will be offered)
The Zambezi River is at its best between August and November when water levels are dropping. To compliment this, these months also represent the best weather for your holiday. Expect it to be hot during the day. Down in the Batoka Gorge, it often ranges from 95-105°F, but can get hotter. The water temperature is a comfortable 75°F and provides welcome relief from the heat. It does cool down a little in the evenings but nothing worth worrying about. Generally it’s quite comfortable just sleeping under the stars!
Average Temperatures and Rainfall for Livingstone:
|Air (High) °F||Air (Low) °F||Rainfall|
You may want to check one week prior to your trip for an up-to-date weather forecast. We recommend you check the following web site: www.accuweather.com
Zambia is two hours ahead of GMT, which is six hours ahead of the U.S. East Coast and nine hours ahead of the West Coast.
There are many languages spoken in Zambia, with Bemba and English being the most common. There are approximately 70 other indigenous languages. You’ll find that most locals are able to speak English well.
Health & Medical Information
There are no required immunizations, however we recommend you contact your doctor or local travel clinic for information about recommended “routine” vaccinations. They may suggest you get inoculated against Hepatitis A and B, Tetanus, Typhoid and Meningitis. You can learn more about what the CDC recommends at www.cdc.gov
Malaria: Anti-Malarial prophylaxis is not typically recommended for the locations where this trip takes place, as much of Zambia is not in a malarial zone; however, we recommend you contact your doctor or local travel clinic for more information. More details about malaria in Zambia and Botswana can be found at www.cdc.gov
Despite the many precautions we all take to stay healthy, occasionally one may experience diarrhea. The major problem associated with this is fluid loss leading to severe dehydration, so it is important to maintain plentiful fluid intake. Avoid milk and caffeine, as it will only further dehydrate you. The best drinks are weak tea, mineral water and caffeine-free soft drinks. Ideally it is best to let diarrhea run its course. However, you may want to bring over-the-counter medication to minimize your potential discomfort.
Although there typically aren’t many mosquitoes around at this time of year, we recommend bringing long pants and sleeves for the evenings, for extra protection.
Altitude should not be an issue, as Livingstone is located at 3235 feet above sea level.
For Women Only
Even if you aren’t anticipating your menstrual period, come prepared for it. You can use sandwich-sized Ziploc baggies during the day to store feminine products while you are on the river or hiking, and you can then discretely dispose of the baggies when you reach camp. When possible, we recommend o.b.® tampons, which are 1/3 the size of regular tampons, tuck discreetly into pockets and have less paper wrapping. If you use pads, be sure to bring extras. Many women suggest bringing a small supply of baby wipes. We provide some feminine products on most trips for emergencies.
River Runners Responsibility Code
1. Read the pre-trip literature and arrive at the meeting place on time.
2. Understand the risks: your safety is ultimately your responsibility.
3. Wear the issued and properly–fitted Personal Flotation Device (PFD) at all times when in the boats or swimming. Wear a helmet when required.
4. Wear clothing and personal protective equipment suitable for the current conditions.
5. Listen to and follow the guides’ instructions.
6. Abide by the managing agency’s rules.
7. No drugs or alcohol during the day; alcohol is allowed in moderation in camp and at the lodges.
8. Minimize your impact on the environment.
9. Treat your fellow guests and guides with respect and courtesy; harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.
10. Your children are your responsibility!
Essential Eligibility Criteria for River Trips
The following are the physical and mental eligibility criteria for all participants on any OARS river trip.
1. Ability to remain seated and balanced while in a whitewater craft while holding on with at least one hand.
2. Wear a Type V Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device (maximum chest size of 56 inches). Wearing leg straps may be required to ensure proper fit. Where required, properly wear a helmet.
3. Ability to independently board and disembark a boat four to ten times each day. This may require stepping into the boat, and then maneuvering your body over and across tubes and fixed objects into a seated position.
4. Ability to independently navigate shoreline terrain, including safely maneuvering around and across boulders, rocks, and slippery and uneven surfaces, under low branches, and around vegetation. This includes the ability to maintain your balance near precipitous ledges or cliffs.
5. Ability to independently swim in whitewater or swift currents while wearing a PFD. This includes being an active participant in your own rescue, including having the ability to (a) keep your airway passages sealed while underwater, and regain control of your breathing when being submitted to repeated submersion under waves or currents; (b) orient yourself to new “in-river” surroundings; (c) reposition yourself in the water to different swimming positions; (d) swim aggressively to a boat or to shore in whitewater; (e) receive a rescue rope, paddle, or human assistance, and possibly let go of the same; (f) get out from under an overturned boat.
6. Ability to swim 100 yards in flat water while wearing a PFD.
7. Ability to assist another passenger who has fallen out of the boat by pulling them back in.
8. Ability to follow both verbal and non-verbal instructions given by guides in all situations, including during stressful or dangerous situations, and to effectively communicate with guides and other guests.
9. Ability to carry personal dry bags and other personal gear (as heavy as 20-30 pounds) uphill from the boats to your camping location and back the next morning, independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member. (This only applies on multi-day trips).
10. Ability to manage all personal care independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member.
11. If taking prescription medications, have the ability to maintain proper dosage by medicating independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member.
12. Ability to remain adequately fed, hydrated, and properly dressed so as to avoid environmental injuries such as hypothermia, heat related illness, sunburn and frostbite.
The above criteria, if not met, will disqualify a person from participating in a river trip with OARS. The criteria exist for your own safety and that of all trip participants. None of the criteria are meant to discriminate on the basis of any physical or mental disability, and are applied uniformly to all potential trip participants, irrespective of the presence or absence of any disability. OARS is committed to making reasonable modifications to any trip for any persons with a disability, so long as they do not fundamentally alter the nature of the trip.
Further Information About Our Expectations of Trip Participants
The following paragraphs are meant to further inform all potential participants of the expectations for all participants in order to promote a safe, enjoyable experience for everyone on a trip. There may be requirements, whether physical or mental, that are not specifically applied “essential eligibility criteria”, but that help our guests understand the reality of being on a wilderness river trip.
Our primary goal is to minimize the risks associated with adventure trips in a wilderness environment. The trip involves physical exertion and exposure to the elements, including cold water and the potential for heat, sun, wind, rain and snow. We have experience accommodating people with a wide range of physical disabilities and/or health conditions. However, individuals who are overweight, lack conditioning, or have other physical limitations or ailments that interfere with the realistic encounters on a wilderness river can endanger themselves, other guests, and the guides. Please consult your doctor if you have medical or health conditions that could impact your ability to participate in this outdoor adventure.
It is very important that each trip participant take an active role in their own safety. You will likely encounter wilderness conditions that you are unfamiliar with, and those conditions may change rapidly. It is critical to pay attention at all times, to be aware of your surroundings, and to avoid taking unnecessary risks. Even a non-life threatening injury in a wilderness setting can become a major emergency for you, and can endanger the entire group. Swimming alone or hiking alone is discouraged. Excessive alcohol consumption or illicit drug use is not tolerated. Using common sense and following both the explicit instruction and the lead of your guides can go a long way towards keeping yourself and the group safe. Some obvious things to avoid in camp and on shore (by way of example) are: walking around without shoes in camp, approaching wild animals, not paying attention to what is above or around your tent site that could harm you, not paying attention to hazards such as poison ivy and rattlesnakes, and walking near precipitous ledges.
River trips, particularly those involving whitewater, are inherently risky. While the risk of a trip is part of what makes it an exciting adventure, you must be entirely respectful of the risk that such a trip poses. It is important that you are confident in your swimming ability, and your ability to stay calm in the event you become a non-voluntary swimmer. Your odds of becoming a non-voluntary swimmer change with the classification of a rapid, boat selection and environmental factors. On class IV and greater whitewater, the probability that you will become a non-voluntary swimmer is significant. A swim in whitewater is much more difficult and physically draining than swimming in flat water. Swimming in cold water can cause a gasping effect on your respiratory system. This can be overcome by focusing on your breathing and calming yourself down. Swimming in cold water will also much more quickly sap your energy and decrease muscle function than swimming in warmer water. While our guides are highly trained and will do their absolute best to rescue you, a successful rescue is greatly hampered by a swimmer who is unprepared for a swim in whitewater, who fails to actively participate in their own rescue, and who is not able to follow directions while under stress. You will receive a detailed orientation talk at the start of your river trip, but you can get a better idea of what to expect by watching a version of an orientation talk here: http://www.oars.com/videos/oars-whitewater-orientation.
Due to the physical nature of this trip, we highly recommend that you engage in regular exercise for at least three months prior to departure to ensure preparedness. No gym membership required! Simple exercises like push-ups, sit-ups and squats go a long way to improving core fitness. Start with these exercises and do three sets of ten repetitions each, three to four times per week. Aerobic training is also easy to accomplish without expensive equipment. Take 30 – 40 minutes two to three times a week and go for a brisk walk, easy jog or bike ride around town. If you have access to a pool, lake or the ocean, swimming is obviously an ideal choice for aerobic exercise. It provides a full-body workout and is training that is useful in the event of an involuntary swim in a whitewater rapid. It is important to push yourself in the months leading up to your trip by increasing your strength training repetitions and the pace of your aerobic training. Check with your doctor prior to beginning any exercise program to be sure you are medically safe to participate. Starting an exercise program that is more strenuous than you are ready for may result in injury or risk exacerbating existing health conditions. Getting in shape will certainly add to your enjoyment of the trip.
Packing for Your Trip
Click on this link for helpful information about packing for your trip: https://www.oars.com/video/pack-river-rafting-trip/
The information below is subject to when your trip takes place. The need for warm weather or cold weather items should be based on a reliable weather forecast leading up to your trip.
During the day— It’s going to be HOT during the day! Start with a swimsuit and/or swim trunks and lightweight shirt as a base layer. Additional layers can be added and subtracted depending on the weather, temperature and how wet you’re getting in the rapids. Make sure you cover-up for protection against the sun in the daytime. On or off the river, a long sleeved, quick-dry shirt is great protection from the sun, along with sunscreen.
In camp—When the weather is warm, lightweight cotton pants/skirt or shorts and shirt make great camp wear. Evenings may be cool, so long pants and long-sleeved tops are a good option, as well as a lightweight fleece or jacket.
During the day—The best choice is an amphibious shoe that drains water, protects your toes and won’t come off in swirling current. A retired pair of athletic shoes can work well, too. Sport sandals with a heel strap are a good option, especially on rivers with sandy beaches. Find professional-grade options made by Chaco®, the official footwear sponsor of OARS guides.
In camp—We recommend wearing shoes in camp due to risk of kicking a rock buried in the sand, or stepping on a sharp stick. The athletic shoes or light hikers you bring for hiking can double as your camp shoes. It’s nice to put on dry socks and shoes after a day on the water. Flip flops or slip-on sandals are OK for wearing in camp only.
Please note: If you buy new shoes or sandals for the trip, make sure you break them in first!
Wide-brimmed hats are a good choice for sun protection. Ball caps are also useful since they fit under helmets, which are required attire when paddling our whitewater rivers.
Hot Weather Trips
A good way to keep cool is with long-sleeved cotton shirts. They can be soaked in the water and worn in the raft or carried on a hike for later use. This method of evaporative cooling is very effective. Bandanas are another useful item that can be used in this manner. Protection from the sun and heat will be critical to your enjoyment and health while on the river and during side hikes. To protect yourself from the sun’s rays, consider bringing long-sleeved shirts and pants. Lightweight, nylon ‘safari’ shirts are readily available and often come with a UPF rating for reflecting harmful ultraviolet rays. These pack small, light, are quick drying and often offer ventilation to help keep cool.
Camp wear should be made of cotton and be loose-fitting. A combination of shorts/skirt and a lightweight top is ideal for staying cool on hot afternoons.
To Avoid Being Cold
Synthetic or merino wool long underwear is a must-have on river trips. It can be worn under shorts, rain gear, T-shirts, etc., then stripped off when the chill of the morning has worn off. It keeps you warm even if it’s wet (which can happen easily), dries quickly, and it’s compact enough to be stuffed into your small waterproof bag or daypack after you take it off. It can be layered under your waterproof rain jacket and pants. Be aware that cotton items, once wet, do not insulate; only synthetic and wool materials will keep you warm during cool, wet weather.
Rain gear protects you from rain, wind and the splash of the rapids. It is one of the essential items that all passengers should have no matter what time of year you are traveling. Look for jacket and pants that are 100% waterproof, not just water resistant. A hooded jacket is recommended as well as good secure closures around your head, neck, wrists and ankles. Do not bring a rain poncho as it cannot be worn under your PFD.
Protecting yourself from the sun should be taken very seriously. A hat, sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses are a must. In many cases, a long-sleeve shirt is the best method for preventing sunburn on your upper body. Light-weight long pants may also be appropriate to protect your legs. Be sure to bring a good hat that offers full coverage, such as a wide-brimmed hat.
Bugs & Mosquitoes
Bugs and mosquitoes vary depending on location and time of year. It’s a good idea to come prepared with insect repellent. Long sleeved shirts and pants may be desirable at times. Scorpions are present on some beaches along the river, so your attention to where you step, sit and set-up a tent is necessary.
Equipment and Personal Items:
☐ Two 1-liter water bottles: durable and reusable (Nalgene® bottles work well)
☐ Headlamp or flashlight (consider bringing extra batteries)
☐ Sunglasses (preferably polarized) with securing strap and a spare
☐ Small, quick-drying towel
☐ Toiletries, including biodegradable soap (such as Campsuds or Dr. Bronner’s)
☐ Sunscreen and lip protection: waterproof & SPF 30 or higher (aerosol sprays not recommended)
☐ Moisturizing lotion or cream
☐ Insect repellent
☐ Locking carabiner (for clipping a water bottle or personal dry bag into the raft)
☐ Personal first aid kit (Band-aids, antibiotic ointment, ibuprofen, moleskin, eye drops, etc.)
☐ Any medication you may be taking and your anti-malarial tablets
☐ Spare pair of glasses and/or contacts
☐ Cash for gratuities
☐ Amphibious river shoes or sandals with a heel strap (such as those made by Chaco®) “Aqua socks” strongly discouraged
☐ Athletic shoes or light hikers (for in camp and on safari)
☐ Flip flops
☐ Long pants: lightweight and light color for sun protection
☐ Long-sleeved shirt: lightweight and light color for sun protection (old dress shirts work well)
☐ SwimsuitSwimwear; a two-piece is recommended for women for changing and using the restroom. Tankinis and board shorts are a great option.
☐ Shade hat or visor with securing strap–flexible enough to fit under your helmet
☐ Rain jacket & pants: waterproof (not water resistant). A hooded jacket is recommended.
☐ Shorts: 1-2 pair
☐ T-shirts/tops: 2-4
☐ long underwear, top & bottom: 1 set–light to mid-weight
☐ Warm top & bottom, such as fleece as it can be cool in the morning and evenings
☐ Camp clothes: comfortable and appropriate for season. Cotton recommended for hot weather trips
☐ Camera and accessories (including dry bag or container)
☐ Carabiner (to attach your water bottle to the raft)
☐ Sarong: useful for sun protection, evaporative cooling, changing clothes, etc.
☐ Small bags: stuff sacs, zip locks or similar for organizing items in your dry bag and travel bag
☐ Day pack/hydration pack
☐ Bathing wipes: pre-moistened disposable towels
☐ Ear plugs
☐ Sketchbook, notebook and pen, paperback book
☐ Lightweight cord and clothespins for drying clothes
☐ Sketchbook, notebook and pen, paperback book
☐ Female Urinary Device (for women only)
Find all the gear you need for your trip online in the OARStore + 15% of your purchase helps provide under-resourced youth with outdoor adventure experiences.
Packing Your Gear
In order to make your travels and connecting flights easier, we suggest you consider bringing only one duffle bag and one carry-on daypack. We recommend traveling as light as possible without compromising your preparation. Excess baggage can be a burden to you and to support personnel. On the international flight you are normally allowed two pieces of luggage, but please check your specific airline for current weight limitations, as it changes from carrier to carrier.
Each season about 5% of travelers arrive in Africa without their belongings. By the time the baggage is located and returned by the airlines the trip is nearly over. We suggest you consider packing necessary river gear—river shoes and one full set of clothes—into a carry-on bag. If you become separated from your checked luggage, you will have some essential items for your river trip.
At the pre-trip meeting, each person will be given one large waterproof bag which will be for your clothing and personal items. A second large bag will come already packed with your sleeping gear (sleeping bag, sleeping pad, ground tarp, sheet and pillow). These two bags will essentially be your “checked luggage” and will only be accessible in camp. Tents are stowed separately.
We recommend you take on the river only what’s absolutely necessary. Keeping gear to a minimum ensures it will fit into the waterproof bags we supply and reduces unnecessary packing and unpacking in camp. You may leave your extra luggage at the David Livingstone Safari Lodge while you’re on the river, then it will be transported and waiting for you at the Taita Lodge. All valuables and passports will be locked in a safe while you are on the river.
Zambia has been relatively safe for travelling, but still there is no point in carrying lots of valuables when traveling. Regrettably, tourists are among the most easily targeted, so please exercise caution. We recommend you check your personal insurance policy before travelling to ensure that you are covered for theft and loss while traveling. As a safety precaution, do not travel with excessive amounts of cash or jewelry if it is not necessary. We recommend that you leave your valuables at home.
Tipping is optional but appreciated by our staff. If you are wondering how much to tip, you may consider that we operate in a service industry with a host of behind-the-scenes contributors in addition to the guides on your trip. In general, we suggest a gratuity based on approximately 10-15% of the trip price. It is customary for gratuities to be given to the Trip Leader, who will then distribute appropriately among all the guides and support staff. Note that gratuities for incidental services are included in your trip price (for bell-boys, drivers, food servers, etc.)
During your trip you will have a lead guide, two or three additional river guides and one or two safari guides. If you intend to tip, plan ahead and have either U.S. dollars, Kwacha or Pula on hand. You will be accompanied by your lead guide on river and safari, so you can provide a gratuity upon return to Livingstone the last day. There are also gratuity boxes at the front desk of the lodges if you would like to leave a additional thank you for the staff.
In reviewing your statement, you’ll notice a $1 per person per day donation to International Rivers, a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to protecting rivers and defending the rights of the surrounding communities. Their work helps stop destructive dams and promotes water and energy solutions for a just and sustainable world. One-hundred percent of these funds go directly to protecting rivers, and your contribution is tax-deductible. Please notify our office if you would prefer to delete the donation from your balance.
If you enjoyed your trip, consider donating to The Pam & George Wendt Foundation. This organization is a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 organization with the express goal of providing opportunities for young people to experience the magic of the outdoors. Visit https://www.oars.com/oars-foundation/ to learn more about how a tax-deductible donation can change young lives for the better.
Gear up in the OARStore where 15% of all purchases help fund outdoor adventures for under-resourced youth
Shop for the latest in top-quality clothing, footwear & outdoor gear
Explore gear made and tested for water-lovers
Recommended Reading List
Watch our “How To Pack For A River Trip” video
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Terms & Conditions
Reservations and Deposits
A $800/person non-refundable deposit is required at the time of reservation. The balance is due 90 days prior to departure.
Cancellations and Refunds
If you find it necessary to cancel your trip, please notify us as soon as possible. The cancellation fee after you’ve made your deposit can range up to the entire trip cost, based upon the number of days prior to your trip that we receive your cancellation notice. We regret we cannot make exceptions for personal emergencies. For this reason, we strongly urge you to consider purchasing a travel protection plan (see Travel Protection).
|DATE OF CANCELLATION||CANCELLATION FEE|
|90 or more days prior to your trip||Deposit of $800/person|
|89 to 0 days prior to your trip||100% of the trip price/person|
Requests to transfer a date will be treated as a cancellation, per the terms above.
OARS International and the outfitter Water By Nature reserve the right to cancel any trip due to unforeseen circumstances. In such a case, you will be given a full refund of the tour cost, but OARS International and Water By Nature are not responsible for additional expenses incurred in preparation for the trip.
Under most circumstances, if you are of an adventurous spirit and in reasonably good health, you should have no problem enjoying this trip. People with medical conditions, including pregnancy, should have a physician’s approval before taking an adventure travel trip.
We offer the OARS Travel Protection Plan to help protect you, your travel investment and your belongings before and during your trip. Travel Protection can reimburse you for non-refundable payments if you should have to cancel your trip for a covered reason such as your illness or the illness of an immediate family member. For complete details go online to: https://www.oars.com/tpp
Please note, we require all participants have a minimum of emergency medical evacuation coverage to participate. This coverage can be purchased as a stand-alone policy, or is typically included in a travel protection plan. If you don’t have proof of coverage at the start of the trip, you cannot take part in the expedition. For a basic policy that includes coverage for emergency medical and evacuation situations, visit www.oars.com/tmp
Everyone is required to sign a standard liability release form before the trip, acknowledging awareness that there are inherent risks associated with the trip. Due to the nature of the activities, a condition of your participation is that you will sign this form and return it to our office before the trip begins. Anyone who refuses to sign the form will not be allowed to participate, and consistent with A.R.S. International cancellation policy, there will be no refund of the trip fees at that time.
Responsibility – An Important Notice
O.A.R.S. International, Inc., Water by Nature and cooperating agencies act only in the capacity of agent for the participants in all matters relating to transportation and/or all other related travel services, and assume no responsibility however caused for injury, loss or damage to person or property in connection with any service, including but not limited to that resulting directly or indirectly from acts of God, detention, annoyance, delays and expenses arising from quarantine, strikes, theft, pilferage, force majeure, failure of any means of conveyance to arrive or depart as scheduled, civil disturbances, government restrictions or regulations, and discrepancies or change in transit over which it has no control. Reasonable changes in itinerary may be made where deemed advisable for the comfort and well-being of the participants, including cancellation due to water fluctuation, insufficient bookings, (this trip requires a minimum of 6 guests), and other factors. There is risk in whitewater rafting, particularly during high-water conditions. Rafts, dories and kayaks do capsize. You could be swept overboard. Your guide will make every attempt to assist, but you must be strong and agile enough to “self-help” and “float-it-out” without further endangering yourself or others. We reserve the right not to accept passengers weighing more than 260 pounds or with a waist/chest size exceeding 56 inches. We may decide, at any time, to exclude any person or group for any reason we feel is related to the safety of our trips. We are experienced at accommodating people with various disabilities. Please give us an opportunity to make you feel welcome. We need to discuss any special requirements ahead of time.
OARS trips occur in areas where unpredictable environmental conditions are to be expected. To moderate dangerous situations for our guests and guides, it is important that all travelers obey the rules and regulations as determined by the managing agencies and the Trip Leader and demonstrate reasonable consideration for other guests and OARS employees. We reserve the right to remove any guest from a trip if, in our opinion, that guest’s actions or behaviors pose a threat to the safety of her/himself or others, or if those actions or behaviors compromise the enjoyment of the trip for others. Should a guest be asked to leave a trip, there will be no refund for the unused portion, nor will OARS be responsible for additional expenses incurred by the guest for accommodations, return transport, change fees, etc. On advancement of deposit the depositor agrees to be bound by the above recited terms and conditions. Prices subject to change without notice.
Water by Nature
Water by Nature, a travel partner of OARS. International, is the operator of this trip. Upon arrival, Water by Nature staff will meet you and escort you throughout the program. These international staff members are the very best and will strive to ensure your complete satisfaction.