For those who love adrenalin pumping water games, Shearwater has introduced a jetty boat in Victoria Falls, the first of its kind in more than 10 years.
As the curtain of white water gushes and lands with a thud on the mighty Victoria Falls, all one can experience from the top of the cataract is the grandeur of natural phenomenon and the freshness of the air that comes with one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
For long, Victoria Falls has been accused of having routinely fading activities and lacking variety on the adventure front. Now, the adrenalin junkies dotted around the falls have a new challenge in situ, the jetty boat.
The boat has a maximum speed of 80km per hour. It can safely travel at between 70 and 80km per hour on flat water but in the gorges, it travels at speeds ranging between 30 and 40km per hour.
For a water vehicle carrying 12 people that is very fast and adrenalin pumping. It is not for the weak.
The newly introduced jet boat is quite a powerful beast, whose heart is a 435-horsepower Volvo engine and is made of aluminium and weighs more than three tonnes. It is going to operate right in the heart of the falls under the famous Victoria Falls Bridge stretching its drive from rapid number one to rapid number four.
The boat is propelled by two jet engines that can drive against any type of high currency.
It uses about eighty litres of fuel per hour at high speed. The boat shall be competing with grade five natural rapids of the crocodile infested Zambezi River.
Shearwater Adventures, a pioneer company in many high adrenalin activities in Victoria Falls adds the jet boat experience to a range of other activities such as bungee jumping, bridge swing and slide, sunset cruise, helicopter flights among many.
Engineers took the boat into the water for the first time on March 2 for sea testing with pomp and fanfare.
The bridge was closed to all forms of traffic for about two hours and the crane straggled to take the spectacle down into the river. The boat is currently undergoing rigorous tests and the captains are undergoing massive training on the boat.
Shearwater are however not new to this kind of operation as they, about ten years ago, had a similar boat that was swept away by the flooded Zambezi river at night. The boat had been fastened for the night but water levels suddenly rose at around midnight and swept away the boat. It took more than ten years to replace the machine because of the speciality required in designing and creating such kind of a boat.
The boat was created in South Africa at a cost of half a million dollars and is meant to be launched for commercial operations in a few weeks’ time.
Jet boat operations are done throughout the day in the same fashion as sunset cruise are done.
The difference is that this is a high speed activity done on the lower Zambezi. It is an option for those who do not necessarily want to do rafting but would want to get to the boiling pot of the falls. While on the activity, one has a chance of taking photos of the falls downstream of the falls in the Batoka gorges.
Throughout the activity, one has to be putting on life jackets and helmets and hang on for the breath taking adventure.
Unlike the one that Shearwater had 10 years ago, the current boat was made to the specifications of the client and is best suited for the environment of the falls. The boat carries 12 passengers and one captain. It takes about 30 to 45 minutes to do the activity.
The jet boat reintroduction has woken up the activities of Victoria Falls and enquiries have started pouring from the time the boat was put into the water for final sea testing.
Those partaking in the activity will have to part with good money. This is an upmarket activity.