Enjoy cruising down the bewitching Zambezi River in a canoe, spotting a variety of birds and wildlife while passing picturesque islands - this is what a canoeing safari on the Zambezi is all about.
One of the must do activities when on holiday in Zambia is taking a canoe safari. It is said that the mighty Zambezi River gets in your blood and draws people back again and again. A canoe safari is a leisurely way to experience the river for those who do not want to take on the rapids during a white water rafting trip.
These excursions allow visitors to see a gentler side of the river and enjoy fantastic game viewing.
The Zambezi River is generally referred to in two sections as the Upper Zambezi and the Lower Zambezi, broken by the vast Victoria Falls and Lake Kariba. Visitors can choose to do a canoeing safari either above or below the Victoria Falls. Each experience has its own unique charms, as the vegetation and wildlife experience is different.
Strike out against the powerful current and drift past many scenic islands which have Date and Ivory Palms, Ebony, Acacia and Albizia Trees. Skirt pods of honking, laughing Hippo, stopping to watch them snort and yawn in the shallows. Set out to explore the quieter side channels and see the areas diverse birdlife or perhaps chance across a Crocodile lazing in the sun on a sand bank.
The canoeing safari will take place in inflatable crafts and visitors will have to negotiate a couple of rapids, but these are level two - some of the easiest rapids in the world. As you paddle keep a look out for any game that might come down to drink at the side channels, perhaps a herd of Elephant or catch a glimpse of a shy Bush Buck or Kudu Antelope.
The Lower Zambezi
Several hundred kilometres downstream below the Victoria Falls and Lake Kariba, the river changes its character. From a raging, powerful force, it becomes languid and spreads out along a vast floodplain. There are many scenic islands and national parks and nature reserves line both sides of the banks. Here many visitors do multi day canoeing safaris.
These can be participatory or non participatory safaris. In participatory safari's guests will have to help set up and strike camp each day.
In a non participatory safari the campsite will already be set up upon arrival at each stop.
All equipment and supplies will be carried in the canoe. The canoes are long, sturdy and made of fibre glass. They can carry over 300kgs of gear.
The game viewing as you cruise among the islands is excellent and herds of Elephants are often seen feeding on the islands or reaching up with their trunks to feed on Albizia pods. Hippopotami are often passed at a safe distance and you may see Waterbuck and Buffalo coming down to drink at the water's edge.
The birding along the river is excellent and during the winter months when the water level is low, acrobatic African Skimmers breed on the exposed sand banks. In September large flocks of Carmine and White-fronted Bee-eaters are common. In the thickets along the river twitchers can keep a look out for the elusive Pel's Fishing OwL.