What do Overland Truck Eater, Oblivion, Devil's Toiletbowl, and Terminator have in common? Names of sci-fi or horror movies? Nope. They're all aptly named rapids in the mighty Zambezi River.

The names were going through my head as we were being driven from the Waterfront to the river entry point in Mosi-O-Tunya park, right at the mouth of the Victoria Falls. Today, we were going white water rafting with Safari Par Excellence (http://www.safpar.net), "Safpar" for short. One full day in a glorified inertube down 25 rapids alongside 7 other brave souls.

It wasn't my first time rafting the mighty Zambezi and it certainly won't be the last. You might think it would get easier after one or two trial runs--that's what I had hoped anyway--but it wasn't the case. Actually, having some idea of the mayhem we were about to willingly launch ourselves into somehow made it all the more nerve-racking. I had to act tough though because my best bud from back home was visiting and it was his first taste of the Nyami Nyami.

As the story goes, Nyami Nyami is the the river spirit of the Zambezi. A spirit who got particularly annoyed about the damming of the gorge at Kariba. Since then he's been seeking revenge so one hoping to come out unscathed must enter with the utmost respect.

Respect in hand, we all hiked down to the starting point, "Boiling Pot". After getting the safety briefing it was time for paddle practice and a trial run. Once in the boat I was pretty sure people would feel my heartbeat through the raft as it was starting to race uncontrollably. Even though it's only a class 2 or 3, the first rapid does end with water driving straight into a rock wall as the river dog leg right. Getting caught in there is said to be an unfortunate experience.

Just our luck, we made it through alright and actually the nerves calmed as the adrenaline kicked in. Team morale was up so we set off to chase our fate down the Batoka Gorge.

The third rapid was our first "biggie". A massive curling wave rising up over a deep trough. I think the idea was to plow through it but as we entered all of a sudden the boat retreated back down the wall of the wave. We were officially surfing our raft!

Without enough time to decide whether this was really cool or terrifying the "uphill" edge of the raft submerged and sucked us all in with it. What a rush. No clue what was up and what was down but I tried to remember the advice I'd been given: "ball up, let the lifejacket do its work". Check, we popped up all laughing and hooting over our first triumphant dip. High fives all around.

After that it just got better and better. The first 10 rapids are "the big boys" and are mainly class 3s, 4s, and 5s. I will never forget the feeling of going into a class 5 rapid. Pure terror when you finally see the size of the beast followed by a sense of utter hopelessness as it squashes the raft like a dog and its chew toy.

After rapid 10 it was time for a rest so we parked on the rocks and fueled up on sandwiches, snacks, and drinks. From there we had nothing short of the perfect afternoon. By then, we all had a sense of how things work and how fun it all is facing our fears and taking on the river. What helps is that the Safpar guides are exceptional at what they do. Besides making sure everyone is safe, they're able to build up the team spirit, make it fun, and share some of their knowledge about the river.

Something I love almost as much as the white water is the calm sections in between. We would just float along, laughing and telling jokes, reenacting each epic battle with the waves we'd just come through, and keep a look out for animals.

And there were plenty of sightings: big birds of all kinds, baboons, and even crocs. Actually every time I've been on the water I've seen at least one if not two crocodiles. They're not huge because it's only the babies that survive the plunge over the falls but it's enough to remember just how absurd the activity is that you’re doing.

As we got further down the river we were particularly captivated with the pristine beaches. I've yet to do a multi-day trip but it's an easy sell after bearing witness to the incredible campsites the whole way down.

One final yardsale down at rapid 23 and we were all as happy as could be. The only thing that might ruin the mood was going to be a rough hike straight up the 100+ meter gorge wall. Thankfully, Safpar has an arrangement with Jet Extreme who operate a gondolla so we rode it up without breaking a sweat. Good thing as the day provided plenty of exercise paddling, swimming, and pirating other boats.

To top everything off, after reliving every wild moment in the pictures and videos taken by support crew along the way, we went over to the bar area at The Waterfront which nestles right up to the river.

The perfect sundowner to end the perfect day.

For more information, please go to http://www.livingstonetourism.com.