Meet Tony Pilcher, entrepreneur and owner/manager of Jet Extreme, his company providing exciting jet boat adventures in the rapids below Victoria Falls for tourists to Livingstone, Zambia. Tony was our Guest on the most recent edition of The Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient featuring George da Soulchild Kaufela, our weekly Sunday night radio show airing from 20.30 to 21.30 hrs on Zambezi 107.7 fm, Livingstone’s leading local radio station. Tony kindly donated a jet boat ride for two people to add on to the weekly prize we give away on the show, of a dinner for two with drinks and a swim at Chanters Lodge. We give the prize to the first person to text us telling us who’s singing our ‘oldie of the week’ – this week’s track was Cher’s ‘Believe’ and the great prize was quickly snapped up by Mpezeni – to the consternation of others!
Tony told listeners that he’d started his company in 1999. For five years before that he had been an overland truck driver hosting trips from Cairo to Cape Town passing through Livingstone on many of his trips. He had seen an opportunity for jet boating on the Zambezi and had got himself organized. I pointed out that he and I had started up businesses at roughly the same time. Tony explained that it cost ZK500,000 (about US$100) pp to participate in the jet boat activity, the ride itself lasts about half an hour, the rest of the three and half hour activity is taken up with the transfer to the cable car which takes passengers 220 meters down to the boat launch. Tony’s two directional cable car is unique in Zambia and is a ‘must do’ for tourists. The activity includes a stop over at Chief Mukuni’s village for a spot of culture! The 800 hp boat cruises at speeds of up to 90 kmh, performing ‘jet spins’ leaving you facing the other way in a matter of seconds and generally soaking wet! “Has it put you off?” I asked George and Milli who were angling for an invite “not at all, not at all, no!” They exclaimed in unison. The company has two boats one eight seater, one eleven seater and the minimum number for a trip is eight people.
Musically Tony expressed an interest in the Bellamy Brothers. We did not have them on the play list but we did have Olly Murs featuring Flo Rida and their number one UK smash hit ‘Troublemaker’, back to back with Bruno Mars ‘Moonshine’ – a great start to the show. George dropped Salma Dodia’s big African hit ‘Wonderful World’ together with Afunika’s ‘Free To Mingo’ and yes that is the right spelling (smh). Milli Jam spun ‘Hope We Meet Again’ from Pitbull featuring Chris Brown together with a Paris Hilton/ Lil Wayne combo. Our pick of the week was ‘Not Giving In’ from Rudimental featuring John Newman and Alex Clare.
Tony told listeners that he is married to Sue, who had been out of Zambia for some time following a family bereavement, they did not have children ‘but who knows what might happen when she comes back’ said Tony to some in studio laughter! Milli Jam wanted to know who were the best clients of the jet boat and Tony said that the Asian community were his best supporters but he really depended on agents for marketing and bookings. Sun International gave him lots of business. Being a New Zealander Tony said he loved rugby but no longer played.
Jet Extreme has expansion plans in the property market with Royal Mukuni Villa Estate. At the top of the gorge near the cable car start point the company has 22 plots already sited, as well as investors lined up including the Mukuni Development Trust. Tony hoped that in ten years time he would still be happily married, would have started a family and would still be driving jet boats as part of an expanded successful company in Zambia.
We wished him the best of luck.