Written by Lauren Caldwell ’20
This blog post is written in response to a fall 3-week course in 2017 to Zambia led by Professors Amber Chenoweth and Emily McClung.
One of my favorite memories from this trip to Zambia was the Under the Spray activity. The morning of this activity we woke up pretty early to eat breakfast before it because we left Jolly Boys at 7:30 a.m. None of us really knew what we were getting ourselves into when we signed up for this. I thought it involved kayaking down the Zambezi River, but we soon found out that it was actually a grueling hiking, climbing, and swimming activity.
There were five of us in my group. After the guides picked us up, we went to their office and basically signed our lives away. Then we drove to the entrance of Victoria Falls National Park. They gave us a briefing on safety and made sure that our helmets and life vests fit, then they gave us ores. We began to walk in the park and hiked the “Boiling Pot Trail” that got us down to the Zambezi River. We had hiked this trial the first day we went to Victoria Falls and it was very difficult without carrying equipment.
Today we had to carry our live vests, helmets, and ores. It had also rained the night before doing this activity so the steep rocky trail was very slippery and covered with wet leaves. All of us slipped at least once while hiking this trail. We had 4 guides, one lead guide, one that carried a full big cooler on their back the entire way down this trail, one guide that took photos for us while doing the activity, and another there for safety.
As we got further and further down the trail, the guide veered off the path to the section you can only go on with a guide. This path ended up going to the edge of a cliff. The guides had gone out on the path earlier and set up ropes to help us if necessary. They were very necessary.
I was dripping sweat after this section and we had only been going for about a hour. After we got to the bottom of the cliff, we got in a raft that the guides had left down there prior to us coming out. We rowed up stream against the current and when we came to the extreme currents that would have put us back where we started, it felt like we were rowing incredibly fast but going no where. We made it through that current on the first try and safely tied up our raft on a rock. We all got out and climbed for a while, going up the rocks and then down them and into a small pool under the falls.
When we jumped in the pools it felt like I was jumping into a freezing lake. We swam and climbed through a couple more small pools and then finally made it to the falls. As we got closer and closer we could feel the cold spray of the falls on us. We never got use to the cold temperature of the water. We stood on this huge pile of rocks under the falls and felt the pounding water all over us. It felt like I was standing in a hail storm. Tons and tons of water per second rushing down the falls onto us.
My friend and I got hit the hardest with water for the longest amount of time in the smaller waterfall. It was an absolutely stunning site to see. Being at the base of Victoria Falls looking left to right and seeing nothing but water falls and beautiful landscape, it was amazing. After we were done in the falls, we began to head back to our raft. Once we got to our raft, our guide stood on a rock and gave us the history of Victoria Falls.
Then we all got back in the raft and had to get ourselves out of the current. After the violent rowing, we floated back to where we had to dock the raft. Then we all got out and hiked back up the cliff. Halfway back to the trail head we stopped for a quick break and had some water and snacks. Going back up the trail was much more difficult. There were so many steps. It felt like we were hiking forever. We got to the top, returned our gear, thanked our guides and they gave us a ride back to Jolly Boys.