Perhaps rapid 15 of the mighty Zambezi River?
Yeah that will do.
With one goal in mind: let us get out of here alive.
You may be thinking well that’s a tad extreme, is it though? is it really?
The descent was something to marvel I suppose; as in we got to the place where we began our descent. Marvelled at the river, then rolled down a hill for about 1 and a half hours… yeah there were boulders, we thought there were a lot. Oh no this was nothing compared to what was coming.
So after turning several large boulders in to kiddy slides and feeling like true adventurers reality stated to set in. once we had gone down there was no going back until we reached (rapid) 23…
Dave our leader (commonly known as Bae) had told us that the fitter we were the better the trek would be. I wasn’t one of the more unfit ones; I was after all lead of the second group (after the elites) but this was still hellish. The constant boulders, climbing over and over.
There was a distinct moment where we realised that we were stuck down in the depths of Batoka gorge was when we had to climb round a boulder clinging on, without falling into the river. To find Morven running back in angst to say Emma had fallen and hit her head… first day and someone’s already dead.
Okay not really but it was still pretty scary like the scary when you’re playing Mario cart and you just about go off the side and you get that feeling of dread that goes right through you. Well times that by one thousand and then some. When there is no getting out and blood is gushing from your friends head. So yeah, this was a good start…
After a bandage up and a distribute of Emma’s stuff we carried on deeper into the gorge. Don’t get me wrong it was beautiful just slightly scary.
Having finally reached the first camp we set up: not that there was much to set up; as we had no tents but we got down to it, making dinner. Probably pasta of sorts (I think my brain has blocked the memory from my mind, for most likely obvious reasons). After some deep teeth brushing chats it was a simple case of hitting the hay… well rocks really. I must say it wasn’t as bad as I expected.
But I shan’t complain about when I looked up to the skies and the view I had.
Living where I live in Scotland, we are accustomed to good night views, but in the words of our dear Madeline, it was, shall we say, ‘hella’. The stars were plentiful and we could actually see the Milky Way. I’m not one to boast however we could see the planets (Jupiter and Venus), as we were sitting round having our delicious pasta.
And so after the first night we had an early start. Try 6am. Not too bad could be worse, could be better. We began our day by the ‘breakfast people’ having the sinister job of having to wake everyone up. And so it began the kind words of those being woken up. Seeing everyone in their immediate woken state, was umm to be perfectly honest, I have no idea as I was one of those people who had just been woken up.
After having finally set off we walked and walked and hey you know what? We walked some more.
Well to be perfectly honest we climbed, fell, slide (may this be accidental or more kiddy slides) jumped, and a multitude of other things. We did however trumpet on and finally reached the next camp. After a few ‘discussions’ and again most likely rice this time. A roast marshmallow or two it was once again time to get into our sleeping bags. However this time was not as, comfortable? i.e we had the issue that we were on a (slippy) slope where you woke up every couple of hours and had to army crawl up our mats, only to slide back down…
As the penultimate day set in, porridge was not gladly eaten and we once again we set off. The harsh reality that we had not come as far as we were supposed to, and that we wouldn’t make it to the end, was a big factor in how we all felt, this day was probably the worst. I just wanted to cry the whole time, constant scrapes and bruises were forming, swearing was alarming common. Nobody talked to anyone, words of encouragement were sparse and we all were done.
We reached the lunch point; which was of sorts a tropical beach. I could just see the clockworks turning in everyone’s heads. Maybe we could stop here and head up tomorrow? So with a bit of debate, we decided that the beach was the best option. So an afternoon to spend down the Zambezi, we couldn’t really complain. So with that said we had a pretty chilled afternoon by the water, on the sand- sunning it all up. This was indeed the life.
After some deep late night chats and some roast wine-gums (two of which I dropped) we headed off to bed, in preparation for the ascent.
That morning we had got all our stuff together fully set on reaching the lodge with the food (that wasn’t cooked on a trangia). So the up haul began and my it was hell. It was however predicted that it would take us about 2 hours we did in less than half of that.
After climbing up some rickety ladders and taking in what we had completed we reached the flat, it was an achievement to say the least.
So after some satayed biltong we headed off, and with an hour-to-two of walking left until we got back we sang a little we talked about festivals a bit but for the most part it was talk of chocolate, general food not cooked on a trangia, it was a relief when we finally saw civilisation in what seemed like years.
We had food, we had drinks and I no longer felt as parched as a hump less camel. It was a good day that ended with take-away pizza, many marshmallows and some new welsh friends that we may or may not have scared away….
I feel as though I learned a lesson from the project and I also learned something on trek. It was hard yes. But we did it and we left no man behind, there were arguments and squabbles, tears and trip, yet we did it we all came out of the gorge as a team and that’s something we couldn’t have done without each other. People are there for a reason, those alone suffer and we would much more than a scrape or bruise if hadn’t been for one another.