The ultimate collection of unforgettable destinations.
The globe-trotting authors of the Unforgettable Places series are eloquent guides to 80 favorite destinations, unique sights and experiences around the world. Some suggest an adventure-filled walk, a breathtaking climb or a fantastical river-rafting experience, while others recommend an island of unrivalled tropical beauty, ruins that have stood for a thousand years or a painter's famous garden.
The authors provide cultural and historical background information, describe what visitors can expect, suggest activities, give helpful tips and recommend places to stay.
More than 2,000 vibrant photographs entice the reader to experience unusual destinations such as:
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Steve Davey is a travel writer and author.
Steve Watkins is a travel photographer and author.
Clare Jones is a travel writer and photographer whose work has been featured in a variety of publications, including USA Today and numerous travel guides.
Marc Schlossman is a professional photographer and author.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
River-running, Zambezi River, Zambia
Whether it involves getting drenched by one of the seven natural wonders of the world or rafting the planet's most awesome rapids, a journey on the mighty Zambezi River is a guaranteed thrill.
Rising from a small spring in north-western Zambia, the Zambezi, Africa's fourth-largest river, travels a massive 2700 km and traverses six countries on its way to the Indian Ocean. En route this majestic body of water weaves an unmistakable path, and has carved out the spectacular Victoria Falls where, on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, the 2-km-wide river plunges more than 100 metres into the steep-sided and ever-deepening Batoka Gorge, a white-water-rafting paradise.
The tranquillity of the upstream river, home to giraffes, elephants, hippos, crocodiles and innumerable forms of birdlife, is dramatically shattered as the Zambezi approaches the plunging drop of the falls. At peak flood a staggering 550,000 cubic metres of water thunder over the edge every minute, creating serious white-water rapids below.
For the best views of the falls from the Zambian side follow the network of paths to the none too encouragingly named Knife Edge Bridge, where a hair-raising traverse through swirling clouds of spray takes you on to a downstream island in the river with views of the gaping abyss below. As the falls plunge downwards and ricochet off the rocks in the gorge, spray can spiral upwards as high as 500 metres. This remarkable plume of water can be seen up to 70 km away, earning the Victoria Falls their local name: Mosioa-tunya (the smoke that thunders).
The falls are incredible enough in themselves, but the real adventure lies downstream. If pitting your wits against roller-coaster waves, big drops and swirling eddies grabs you, you will find that white-water rafting on the Zambezi is in a class of its own. Depending on the time of year, you may even find yourself bobbing about at the base of the falls in your inflatable raft, with just a paddle for support, before you launch into a descent.
The 25 raftable rapids come one after the other and form the most daunting commercially-run white water anywhere in the world. They are classified as grade five by the British Canoe Union -- the official definition is 'extremely difficult, with long and violent rapids, steep gradients, big drops and pressure areas'. If this doesn't get your adrenalin flowing, the names of some of the rapids just might. With titles like 'The Terminator', 'Oblivion' and 'Stairway to Heaven' they give a pretty clear indication that this is a river not to be messed with. A raft can be overturned in a split second and its paddling party scattered liberally along the sides of the gorge.
No previous experience of rafting is required to join any of the trips, which can be day-long or, if you want to explore the lower, more tranquil reaches of the river towards Lake Kariba, several days. Don't be alarmed, though -- you won't be thrown in at the deep end. Qualified raft guides provide thorough training and instruction before you depart.
If you need to calm frayed nerves, and have enough energy left after all this adventure, it is well worth hopping on board an upstream cruiser for a sunset wildlife safari. Meandering through the calm and sedate waters of the upper Zambezi, it is hard to imagine how wild the river gets after the Victoria Falls. But keep your eyes peeled -- you may just have some close-up encounters with hippos and crocodiles. It seems that even here, on tranquil waters and sipping wine, the prospect of a swim is less than desirable.
The flow over the Victoria Falls varies throughout the year, building up from its low point in January to peak flow in June. From June to December the flow starts to drop off again. The river levels also affect the rapids you will be able to run. During the low-water season you can raft rapids 1 to 18, approximately 24 km. In the high-water season only rapids 11 to 23 can be run, approximately 18 km. Most visitors base themselves in the town of Livingstone on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border. If you really want to indulge yourself the quintessentially colonial-styled Royal Livingstone hotel, owned by Sun International, nestles on the banks of the Zambezi, with views down to the thundering falls. All activities can be booked and organized through the hotel's dedicated centre on site.
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