ISSUE 20

Shearwater Adventures

 

 
If it’s hair-raising, adrenaline-pumping adventure you love, or an African Safari with a difference then you can count on Shearwater Adventures to have what you are looking for. Perhaps the company should carry a warning label on its marketing material “Looking for the boring or mundane? Don’t call us”. As the original pioneers of safari and adventure at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, Shearwater knows all the best ways to enjoy this natural wonder – with a twist of course. Ok it’s not all just adrenaline and madness, there are many options to choose from but when it comes to adrenaline – these guys stand head and shoulders above the rest. 
 
Quite notably, and stolen shamelessly from the bragging rights it has on its website, the company now in its fourth decade, continues to lead in its field and has hosted over a million passengers on company-owned adventure activities since its opening in 1982. That’s a whole lot of white knuckled people who today have incredible stories to tell about seeing a different side of Africa… From an entirely different view!
 
So who is Shearwater? In short the company is a fully-fledged, groundhandling and destination company operating in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana. The company recently won the Association of Zimbabwe Travel Agents (AZTA) Best Tour Operator Award for an unprecedented, notching this up to the tenth, consecutive win. 
 
Shearwater’s motto “Pioneering Spirit” says it all. The company is the proud custodian of a legacy stretching back to 1982 when it was the first to organise commercial white water rafting trips on the mighty Zambezi from Victoria Falls. Ever since, Shearwater has continuously looked to innovate and develop new activities to inspire and delight in equal measure. Furthermore, with the origins of the business founded on the staff’s enthusiasm for adventure and fun, Shearwater has always been acutely aware of ensuring everything is customer focused.
 
One of Shearwater’s distinguishing features is that it owns and operates most of the products with which it is involved with, in Victoria Falls including the helicopter rides (and helicopters), cruises, bridge activities, rafting, safari activities and restaurants. All of these are serviced by its knowledgeable and friendly team, of over 200, staff based in Victoria Falls, Livingstone and Kasane. 
 
What’s more it also offers a series of leisure and commuting transport options. Now provided via a brand new fleet of vehicles all of which are ready and waiting to whisk you off on the next game drive, bus or microbus tour. How does it set itself apart? Through what it terms dedicated personal relationship managers, it strives to ensure constant communication with and coordination throughout its many adventures. You could literally hand over the keys to your holiday travel itinerary to Shearwater and they will handle it for you.

FIND YOUR ADRENALINE TRIGGER
 
Shearwater has just about any Victoria Falls adventure you could imagine in its repertoire, so it’s up to you to decide which of the array of options best suits you:
 
CRUISE OR FLY
 
The Flight of Angels helicopter ride is an ethereal experience. It’s an amazing journey over the 1700 metre vast curtain of water known locally as the “Mosi oa Tunya” which translates to “the smoke that thunders” or Victoria Falls, and along the Zambezi River and the Zambezi National Park. Passengers are treated to an unforgettable helicopter journey comprising of four circuits with unrivalled views, photographic and filming opportunities, putting the full breadth and height of The Falls into glorious perspective within the surrounding environment.
 
Not to be outdone, the company also offers the “Zambezi Spectacular Flight” that encompasses the same flight path as the Flight of Angels but continues downstream for a thrilling flight over the Batoka Gorge.
 
The finale to this flight is a game spotting tour over Zambezi National Park, where you may spot elephant, buffalo, hippo, lion, crocodile and giraffe.
 
If you prefer to stay closer to the ground then you will love the No-fly Zone, which includes two days of cruises comprised of a Zambezi Sunset Cruise and a guided tour of The Falls as well as a Historic Bridge Tour. Or why not simply indulge in a Classic Zambezi Sunset Cruise? It’s a two-hour must-do when you visit Victoria Falls and is suitable for the entire family. Unwind in the gracious glow of the African sunset as you cruise down the Zambezi with loved ones.
 
If you want to experience a bit of everything then why not partake in an ultimate adventure package like A Bridge too Far or The Full Monty? That way you can fly, cruise and even stop in at the Rainforest Café for lunch.
 
If you are more of a hands-on adventurer you may prefer one of the various rafting, river boarding or canoeing packages that Shearwater offers.
 
SAFARI
 
Ever dreamed of riding an elephant, or coming face to face with a rhino? You can make all these dreams come true with Shearwater as it offers a variety of safaris that enable you to see and interact with some of Africa’s Big Five. 
 
The Chobe full-day trip from Victoria Falls is an entire day of adventuring starting with a cruise on the Chobe River and continuing on to a game drive in the world famous Chobe National Park which is famous for its rich elephant and lion population. If you are more interested in rhino then you need to go on a rhino encounter game drive on the Stanley and Livingstone Private Game Reserve. You can even choose to add a night drive and bush dinner under the stars for an additional fee. 
 
The Land of the Giants safari is a discounted combination safari on which you will get the unique opportunity to cosy up to two of Africa’s Big Five. You will embark on an elephant back safari and end with an endearing encounter with the endangered black rhino.
 
Part of a package deal is the helicopter Flight of Angels ride mentioned earlier, combined with an Elephant Back safari that you can add to the flight experience by meeting the Shearwater elephants. The Shearwater herd of twelve elephants resides on the Stanley and Livingstone Private Game Reserve, a few kilometres outside of Victoria Falls. On this adventure you will hear their life stories and learn their behaviour patterns and anatomy from the knowledgeable Indunas who accompany every safari. After the 45-minute ride in the African bush you will participate in the once in a lifetime experience of close-up interaction with an elephant, during which time you will feed, touch and bond with these gentle giants. 
 
UP IN THE AIR
 
If you’re afraid of heights you may want to skip this section. Shearwater wants to get your adrenaline pumping and give you the opportunity to see Victoria Falls from a different perspective and as such has a selection of ways for you to soar through the air above or beside it.
 
The solo bridge swing lasts approximately an hour, during which you will step off the Victoria Falls Bridge into the Bakota Gorge over the mighty Zambezi River in an upright position for an 80 metre free-fall and then become a human pendulum as you swing in a massive arc with the rumbling waterfall beside you. If you don’t think you can brave it alone you can take a partner with you.
 
The bridge slide is a lot tamer, is suitable for all ages from six years and up and can be done alone or with a friend. It begins from a platform on the Zambian edge and the zipline glides 300 metres over the rapids into the Bakota Gorge below, giving you incomparable views of the Victoria Falls before gently coming to rest on the Zimbabwean side of the bridge.
 
The original and ultimate thrill is a bungee jump and it goes without saying that you can do this with Shearwater. The location is unbeatable as it is in front of the largest curtain of falling water in the world, at a World Heritage Site, set against the backdrop of one of the Seven Wonders of the World and above the raging torrents and misty gorge of the Zambezi River. Then 5-4- 3-2-1 BUNGEE! Four seconds free fall and 111 metres of pure adrenaline. The Victoria Falls bungee is consistently voted as one of the top five adrenaline experiences on the planet, you don’t want to miss this.
 
The adrenaline junkie will find Mecca in the Big Air Experience, a hugely discounted adventure deal in Victoria Falls in which you will bungee jump, bridge swing and bridge slide. It’s not for the faint of heart but it is for those that want maximum adventure with minimum expenditure.
 
A LITTLE MORE RELAXED, BUT JUST AS DARING
 
If none of the above interest you – highly unlikely – there are plenty of other activities offered by Shearwater. You can go for a hike in the Batoka Gorge or tour the Ndebele Village. You can go horseback riding or fish in the Zambezi.
 
You can even take the opportunity to meet a creature of the more scaly variety and go crocodile cage diving. This activity is in the centre of Victoria Falls town in the Elephants Walk Shopping Village and gives cage divers the chance to watch, touch and experience crocodiles in their own environments.
 
Shearwater is extremely conscious that for most visitors, this may be a once-ina- lifetime adventure, to this fascinating part of Africa. There is no greater pleasure than witnessing the sheer elation and the unprecedented level of emotions people experience, from all they see here as well as the world-class activities they participate in. For over 3 decades Shearwater has delighted in feedback from guests about ‘’the greatest experiences of our lives’’ and some of ‘’the friendliest and most sincere people we have ever met.’’
 
Regardless of your taste for adventure, Shearwater is sure to have an activity that will satisfy your wish so contact them today and let them plan your adventure-packed holiday at Victoria Falls.