Canoe safaris in Zambia

The Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia and the Mana Pools National Park on the opposite bank of the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe are the birthplace of the canoe safari and remain the best places to experience this genre, although it is possible elsewhere including above the Victoria Falls and in some parts of the Kafue National Park.

Canoeing safari is offered with experienced and trained guides, you will witness authentic abundant Zambia wildlife, the beautiful scenery, and plenty of varieties and densities of animals. Sit back in your comfortable two man canoe and let the river take you along its current. Venturing out in a canoe offers a completely different safari perspective from being in a vehicle or walking. Moving near-silently down a large African river it’s incredible how much you can see, most mammals are drawn to drink at some stage of every day and so by definition you are travelling through the heart of the wilderness.

You are very likely to have close encounters (in a good way) with elephant, buffalo and hippo on the Zambezi and there is a fair chance of seeing lion, and even occasionally leopard, lying in the bank. The only caveat is that you are travelling with the current and so the opportunity to stop, turn-around or go back in of course is limited.

Your armed river guide will take you down remote channels between the islands in this magnificently diverse and abundant river, where your opportunities to get close to game are very high. Hippos are always in sight, elephant, zebra, puku, impala, buffalo, kudu, water buck, baboons and crocodiles can be seen browsing on the banks from the laid back comfort of your canoe.

Canoe trips

Several operators run 3 – 5 day trips, over-nighting at very quaint and comfortable bush camps on the banks of the river, with great food and white linen beds. Some operators offer ‘participatory’ canoeing trips of any duration. All gear is carried in the canoes and camps are erected on islands in the river along the way. Everyone gets involved in setting up camp and cooking. These trips of the wilderness is that much more intense.

Safety

Taking yourself in to the natural habitat of hippos and crocodiles, two of Africa's most feared animals - may seem counter-intuitive but is perhaps not as foolhardy as it appears, and here's why:

1. Canoeing is only offered on large wide rivers where there is room to navigate around hippos and left alone with ample room to submerge, they are not typically aggressive.

2. Crocodiles do not appear to treat people in a canoe as a food-source and are rather somewhat fearful of them - fortunately.

3. Guests are always accompanied by a guide (or guides) who know the stretch of river well.

4. Large stable canadian style canoes are used, not dug-out canoes (aka mokoros) or small technical kayaks.

You often do not need to have experience, you will be fully briefed about what to do and accompanied by a guide, the less experienced will invariably take the front position in the boat where steering ability is less important. It is also important to note that nowhere is canoeing obligatory and so if you, or any member of your party decide you would rather not canoe then you can walk, drive or boat.

Come discover Zambia by canoe, here you will find some of the finest canoeing in Africa. Rivers and lakes are excellent for the first-timers because operators have selected areas with calm waters for canoeing. This safari will give you a unique perspective on Zambian wildlife and landscape - the view from the water is often breath-taking.