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from DANIEL JONES in Victoria Falls
VICTORIA FALLS – AT its peak, white water rafting on the Zambezi River, ranked the best in the world, handled over 1 000 clients per day.

That was way back in 1998 when tourism was at an all-time high in Zimbabwe and the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) inconceivable.

White water rafting activities have resumed in Victoria Falls after a long layoff due to the pandemic but operators are counting losses as the five companies have handled a mere 50 clients shared among them during the month of June.

Under normal circumstances, the month of June would have seen Adventure Zone, Comfort Rafting, Khanondo Safaris, Shearwater Adventures, Shockwave, Try Rafting and Wild Horizons handling over 1 200 rafters.

The pandemic-induced lockdown has reduced international arrivals, leaving the industry with no clients.

The rafting industry depends mostly on foreign arrivals.

International clients make up 89 percent of the clientele.

High water rafting is usually between mid-May and August when the Zambezi is at its fullest and from mid-December and mid-March when it starts receiving new inflows as rain season starts on the upper Zambezi.

September to mid-December is low-water season.

Rafting will be closed between mid-March and mid-May when inflows become intensive.

Skinner Ndlovu, Rafting Association of Zimbabwe (RAZ) chairman, said compared to the other years in June there would be approximately 1 200 clients from all the companies but this year due to lockdown, there were about 50 clients so far from all companies.

“So we are seriously affected by COVID-19. It’s as good as there is no business at all,” said Ndlovu.

Rafting is open and doing higher water from Rapid No 11 to No 23.

Over the years, five companies operated rafting activities in Victoria Falls.

These are Shearwater Adventures, Wild Horizons, Adventure Zone, Shockwave and Khanondo Safaris are the prime operators.

Zimbabwe is yet to beat the 1998 rafting record where each company would handle about 250 per day on average.

– CAJ News