Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Gorge Swing

Apart from the Victoria Falls, the wide selection of activities available to the tourist has been a major reason the resort town blessed with “the smoke that thunders” has been such a draw card.

From abseiling to the Zip Line, adrenaline pumping activities to the laid back sunset cruises all make the “adventure capital of the world” a must on any itinerary.

One such activity that has got most people, who have tried it, sweating and asking themselves if they are insane, is the gorge swing.

Insanity or an insatiable appetite for adventure aptly describes this swing. Offered by Wild Horizons the gorge swing is a combination of a 70 metre drop and a 95 metre swing that will surprisingly get you asking for more.

The setting is Batoka gorge, a massive ravine that is even more impressive with the flooded Zambezi River. I tried it out recently and what a feeling it was.

On yet another hot sunny day in Victoria Falls I made my way to the gorge just after lunch with the man responsible for my “downfall” Dumisani Nkomo.

With the platform built 120 metres above the Zambezi imagining jumping off it can make one change his or her mind about doing the gorge swing.

Unlike the Bungi Jump where you are tied around the ankles and you end up free falling head down, at 120 kilometres an hour, the gorge swing is very different but still just as awesome.

You are harnessed around the waist and your cord is attached to four ropes that stretch across the gorge. There are two dynamic ropes with 10 percent stretch and two semi-static ropes with 15 percent stretch. Your cord will also have a support attachment meaning if the original attachment snaps you will have cover.

All these safety precautions have over the years ensured an injury free gorge swing for all that have tried it.

“You must be crazy doing this, even I haven’t tried doing it and I hope I’m fastening you in the proper manner,” said Dumisani.

It is their way of trying to have a laugh to break the monotony of carrying out one swing after another.

His humour didn’t help much, standing there with sweaty palms, a queasy stomach and shaking knees I was trying to convince myself that it was not scary, after all I’ve bungi jumped twice.

All the formalities concluded I was told of the many ways one can jump, arms and legs spread like bird, head back to the gorge but I preferred holding on to the ropes and simply walk off.

In no time I was hurtling down the gorge, free falling for 70 metres before the rope got hold of me and I was swinging 95 metres across the gorge adrenaline pumping.

After all that, one can dangle for a couple of minutes while taking in the beauty of the Batoka gorge and its cool environs before being pulled up. You will want to do it again surprisingly.

After such a “life threatening experience” nothing beats a mellow and laid back sunset cruise offered by Python Safaris.

Python Safaris is a relatively young tour company that recently acquired Inyathi Campsite and has an array of activities on offer which include canoeing and rafting among others.

The sunset cruise was a two hour experience filled with game sightings that included an elephant that swam across the Zambezi.

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