Nqobile Sibanda in Victoria Falls
A NEWLY introduced tour activity, abseiling, has become a hit in Victoria Falls with scores of local tourists flocking to sample it to view the majestic waterfall during the just ended Easter holidays.
Abseiling, derived from a German word abseilen, which refers to a top rope down, resembles rock climbing where clients are controlled to descend using a rope.
New tour operator, Abseil Victoria Falls, introduced the activity on Saturday and immediately attracted scores of clients who got a chance to view the Victoria Falls from its base at the danger point.
All along tourists would view the waterfall from the top and now have an opportunity to descend to the boiling point at the bottom of the gorge and take pictures, thereby adding value to the tour of the falls. The company is operating from within the Rainforest thereby giving a double treat to tourists.
For most residents and tourists this will be the first time they are experiencing the activity, which costs $65 per person, although some operators once offered it some years back. Abseil Victoria Falls director Mr Comfort Chinengune explained how the new activity is done.
“We started the eco-friendly activity on Saturday and we are operating from right inside the Rainforest. It involves putting a client on a full body harness and helmet as well as being connected to three ropes for safety. The activity is eco-friendly and clients are assured of 100 percent safety,” he said.
The three safety lines include the main rope controlled by a jump master, safety line which the client can control and is used to pull a person up the cliff.
Clients can go as low as 100 metres down the gorge depending on the water levels. One will be accompanied by a guide who will be monitoring them and ready for rescue in the event of any mishap.
For those with cold feet who may not be comfortable to go down the gorge, Mr Chinengune said there was a ladder that would take them for only two metres for a photo shoot. The activity gives clients a rare treat as it is the only one where one can capture photos with the background of the rainbow.
“The guide is there as a whistle-blower in case anything happens but we want to assure our clients of 100 percent safety because we spent nine months researching on it. The three lines are manually powered and are anchored on a 12-tonne base from where the jump master will be controlling speed.
“One is able to take pictures and can request to stop regularly for a better view and to take selfies. The response has been overwhelming and is already the talk of the town because of its uniqueness,” said Mr Chinengune.
He said the “low” price was meant to cater for everyone. Those who go for the activity also have to pay entrance fees into the Rainforest to access the Abseil point. Locals pay $7 for adults and $4 for children to enter the Rainforest while international clients pay $20 for those from the region and $30 from other countries.
Mr Chinengune said they were planning on planting some trees around the site as he urged other tour operators to go green. He said the company was “here to stay” and hopes to contribute towards growth of the tourism sector. Lately, tourists would get to the bottom of the gorge near the Victoria Falls Bridge using some steps on the Zambian side.