Zambezi Canoe & Walking Safari

Zimbabwe was included in Conde Nast Traveller’s Top 20 Best places to travel in 2017, as well as being voted 3 of “Top 10 Countries to Visit in 2019” by Lonely Planet. It was also recently listed 9 on “The Coolest places to visit in 2019” in National Geographic Travel.

Renowned for being one of Africa’s most beautiful destinations with a superb year-round climate, the country’s tourism is bouncing back in a big way! Right next door is the equally stunning country of Zambia, a flagbearer for political stability in south-central Africa. The country is blessed with reasonable tourism infrastructure, has several fantastic parks and reserves and has some of the friendliest people on the continent, yet is still decidedly old-school and typically “out of Africa”.

With our 8 day/7 night Zambia & Zimbabwe Canoe & Walking safari you will enjoy the best of what these two wonderful countries has to offer, and as a bonus experience it in some different ways than you may be accustomed to on previous African safaris. We will visit three key attractions: Victoria Falls, the Lower Zambezi National Park and Mana Pools National Park.

Our safari will start in the town of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. We will stay (for one night) at a unique boutique guest house located 2.5km from Victoria Falls town, just 3km from the iconic waterfall. The guesthouse is based in a quiet, leafy suburb, close to all restaurants & activities in Victoria Falls town with staff and owners that pride themselves on personalised service.

Resting on the southern banks of the Zambezi River at the western end of the eponymous falls, this popular tourist town is compact enough to walk around and makes an ideal base for travellers exploring the seventh wonder of the world, the unfathomably vast Victoria Falls. About two-thirds of the falls can be viewed from the Zimbabwean side and, while the falls are undoubtedly the star attraction, the area provides both adventure seekers and sightseers with plenty of opportunities to warrant a longer stay. Popular activities include scenic flights over the falls in helicopters or microlights, bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge, white-water rafting (seasonal), and day trips to several reserves in the area. The town itself offers some excellent accommodation and restaurant options as well as an eclectic variety of African curios and authentic art sold by friendly Zimbabwean locals who are wonderfully welcoming and eager to help you enjoy your stay.

A dinner at a local restaurant is the perfect way to settle in to your safari in Africa, perhaps preceded by a Zambezi river sunset cruise.

Days 2 to 5 of your safari will be spent in the Lower Zambezi National Park. After an early morning flight from Victoria Falls airport to Chirundu in Zambia, you will be transported to your canoe safari departure point. Located on the Zimbabwean border in southern Zambia the 4,092 km2 (1,580 sq mi) Lower Zambezi National Park is known for its exceptional, undeveloped wildlife areas. Until 1983 when the area was declared a national park, the area was the private game reserve of Zambia’s president. This has resulted in the park being protected from the ravages of mass tourism and remains one of the few pristine wilderness areas left in Africa.

Lower Zambezi National Park is known for its abundant game and a variety of different wildlife can be spotted such as Lion, Leopard, many antelope species, Hippopotamus, African Buffalo, Nile Crocodiles, herds of African Elephants and maybe even African Wild Dog. Birdwatching is also fantastic (over 400 species recorded), and special species include African Pitta, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Mottled Spinetail, African Broadbill, Crested Guineafowl, River Warbler and Livingstone’s Flycatcher. The landscape features rugged unspoilt wilderness made up of vast floodplains scattered with woodlands. Due to the abundance of water in the park, a canoe safari is considered to be one of the best ways in which to view the game reserve and its many inhabitants from a completely different perspective.

Each day you will canoe a certain distance down the river; Day One is 18 km (11mi), Day Two is 27km (17mi) and Day Three is 23 km (14mi) and Day Four is 7 km (4mi). No previous canoeing experience is necessary but guests are required to be reasonably fit and healthy. The maximum luggage limit per client to take on the river is 10 kgs (5 lbs). Generally the day starts with tea/coffee and biscuits at sunrise. Camp is then packed up and the party sets off. Early mornings make for easy paddling as the wind is calm and it is not yet too hot. A stop will be made for breakfast, usually after a couple of hours. The trip continues after breakfast, until breaking for a light lunch and siesta to avoid the midday heat. The night stop is reached at approximately 5pm and the camp is unpacked and setup. It is a semi-participatory, meaning camps are not already set up for your arrival and that everyone helps to put up tents each evening. Tents supplied are very easy to set up, two-man dome-type tents. These safaris are self-contained, meaning all equipment and food is carried in the canoes and there is no vehicle back up. Campsites are typically set up on islands and all sites are designated by National Parks. There are no ablution facilities on these safaris. You are provided with a spade, toilet paper and matches – with which to burn the toilet paper. Bathing is done from a bucket using water scooped out of the river. An experience never to be forgotten!

The last 3 days will be spent in one of Africa’s true hidden gems; the Mana Pools National Park in northern Zimbabwe. Your canoe safari will end in Mana Pools (Lower Zambezi National Park and Mana Pools are actually part of one huge conservation area with the Zambezi river bisecting it) and you will have a transfer to the camp, set on the river with views of the river and floodplain. Not only is “Mana” a Ramsar wetland of international importance, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site! This remote and rugged 676,600 ha (1,672,000 acres) park is located where the mighty Zambezi river’s flood plain turns into a broad expanse of lakes and pools after every rainy season. As the lakes slowly dry up, the region attracts many large animals in search of water, turning it into one of Africa’s best wildlife viewing destinations.

The game reserve takes its name, Mana, from the Shona word meaning ‘four’ and refers to the four large watering holes or pools that are formed by the Zambezi River. These are complemented by a 50km (30mi) long stretch of sandbanks and riverbanks flanked with lush forests with huge trees. From a wildlife point of view Mana has the highest numbers of Hippopotamus and Nile Crocodiles in all of Zimbabwe, and it is also home to threatened species like Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, African Wild Dog and Brown Hyaena. African Elephant and African Buffalo are also present in good numbers, along with Common Eland, Greater Kudu, Impala, Waterbuck, Plains Zebra and many others. Birdlife is prolific (380 species recorded), and special species in Mana include Pel’s Fishing Owl, African Skimmer, Lilian’s Lovebird, Livingstone’s Flycatcher, Shelley’s Sunbird, Western Banded Snake Eagle, Red-necked Falcon, Dickinson’s Kestrel, Racket-tailed Roller and many more.

A walking safari in Mana Pools is an incredible experience where visitors are able to walk through the African bush on foot with an expert (armed) guide and safely view animals only a few metres away. The park’s sparse vegetation allows for good visibility and the animals are quire relaxed here (walking safaris first started in Mana in 1963), allowing an unforgettable and unique African safari experience. Mana Pools can provide some amazing experiences, if guests are looking for close encounters with game. Mana is famous for its bull elephants, and if you are lucky enough to encounter one of these gentle giants on foot, it is an experience never to forget! Our home for the three nights is Camp Zambezi, a static mobile camp set up on the bank of the mighty Zambezi River. With no set itinerary, each trip can be customised to the expectations of each individual group, with daily distances and route up for discussions amongst group members and guides.

On your final day (day 8) you will have a flight to Victoria Falls to connect with your departing international flight.

This canoe & walking safari (usually run from mid-April to late November) can easily be combined with any of the following of our other safaris:

For more information on this active safari or for any other related queries, please email us at info@naturetravelactive.com
We would love to go canoeing and walking with you!

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