by Robbo Bennetts

Shotover River, NZFlash back to The Toilet. Shotover River. Queenstown via Skippers Canyon, New Zealand. January 1995.

A thin line of thrill seekers snakes its way above the river around The Toilet. Those of us in the advance party look down from our vantage as our guides either R1 or line their rafts through the rapid. Our hearts rise as we watch a guide flip and disappear under his boat. Our hearts rise again as we watch Moses, an American guide, line his raft in much the same way as you would be taken for a walk by a rottweiler chasing a cat. Moses holds grimly on to the line as he bounds from boulder to boulder after the raft. Then, with a sudden jerk forwards, he is flying horizontally through the air. From our vantage it looks like he is going to spear into a big rock. But he reappears a moment later, none too happy.

By Robbo Bennetts

The Zambezi is a high volume river, Africa's fourth longest, and a major adventure travel destination. Its most famous feature is Victoria Falls — or Mosi oa Tunya (“Smoke that Thunders”). Above the mile-wide Falls the river is wide and lazy, home to hippopotamus and crocodile and host to elephant and lion, and a fantastic array of other storybook birds and animals. Below the Falls the river turns ugly as it tears down a series of vertical gorges up to 200 metres high, but only 12 metres wide in places.

By Robbo Bennetts

There are ten thousand unemployed comedians in Australia and every raft guide in Far North Queensland is stealing their lines. Not only that, but booking agents are trying to get in on the act as well. “Okay, so that's two tickets for one day on the Tully with Raging Blunder. You're lucky, we only charge one way on the bus. All I need is a 20 percent deposit.”

By Robbo Bennetts

The first time I rafted the Zambezi I was pretty calm. I mean I was pretty naive. I didn't really appreciate the power of the river. The second time I rafted it - four years later - I was fully aware of its power. I had reflected on my first experience. I had surfed the net, and chatted to others about their experiences. I had read Death of a river guide. I had spoken to real river guides about their most frightening moments. They all had horror stories. There had been fatalities on every rapid between 4 and 19. A teenage girl had just drowned as a result of foot entrapment on a down river trip. She was a family friend of the trip leader. I had met him four years earlier.