If you like Adventure Travel then one of the “things to do” that should be on your “Bucket List” is a Canoe Safari down the Zambezi River, between Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Go Canoe Camping on one of the greatest rivers in the world, its banks teeming with exciting African birds and wildlife, including the big five (Elephant, Rhino, Leopard, Lion and Buffalo) the group of African game which you are sure to spot at least part of. You will undoubtedly see Hippo, Crocodiles, Zebra, many different kinds of Antelope and more!
Due to its special nature, the River is not as accessible as some places in the United States or Europe, but there are reputable agents based in the area who can help you get there, help you with sound advice and even take care of the itinerary and bookings for you. International arrivals fly into Victoria Falls and Livingstone Daily.
Below are a few pointers as to the best way to go about canoeing the Zambezi River:
1. First find a reputable adventure travel agency to book your experience through! Don’t go thinking you can jump in a Canadian, Klepper or Inflatable canoe and paddle down this River on your own – remember that this is the Zambezi!, and the beauty that you have come to experience also contains hidden dangers.. unless of course you are a professional CANOE guide with 2000 hours of training which is possible, but unlikely:-)
2. When preparing for your canoe adventure, research the general geographical area that you are wanting to canoe. If you ask the Canoe Safari company you are dealing with to take you on a trip from Mana Pools up to Kariba, you are likely to be listed on the office blog of “those funnies…” Hint: This truly unforgettable experience can be done on the Upper Zambezi River above the Victoria Falls or down below the Falls, from the Kariba Dam Wall down towards the Cahora Bassa in Mozambique.
3. Decide how much time you would like to spend on your adventure! On the upper Zambezi River generally 3 days with 2 nights is the ideal time to spend on a river Safari for people on a tight schedule. That will give you plenty of time to unwind and soak into the ambience of the Valley.
4. Longer trips are available for others who a bit more of this African adventure to take home with them. These might consider the Kariba to Kanyemba trip! (Kanyemba is located at the Mozambique border) It is more of an explorer trip and can either be done as a WHOLE ten days nine nights experience or the trip can be split into various sections of two, three, five and seven nights.
5. Be adaptable! After setting up your first dome tent in about half an hour on the first night you will feel very pleased with yourself when you do this in two minutes flat the following sunset.
6. Take a camera! The Sunset on the Zambezi River is one of the most beautifully stunning sights you will ever see. Fresh clean air, red gold and yellow ball of flame settling into the blue and reflecting off the waves is truly amazing, a lion with a convenient sense of timing may roar in the distance!
7. Choose your time of year to canoe. October through to December is the hottest time of the year but usually good for game sightings on the Riverbanks. Rainy season on the Zambezi is mid November through to mid April. Winter starts mid June and continues through to August. However winter is not extremely cold and a couple of warm jackets, trousers and socks should do the trick. May and September are absolutely stunning months of the year to travel weatherwise… clear blue skies but warm and not too hot.
8. Select your travelling companion wisely and whatever you do don’t plan to canoe in the same boat as them unless you have a solid friendship or relationship! Unless of course you have done several hours canoeing with them in the past and you are so in sync with each other that you’re ready to take on the Zambezi International Regatta together.
9. Right now you’ve researched the area you would like to canoe, have your dates set, found your partner to share those spectacular sunsets with (or decided it’s safer to go solo), booked your flights, pre and post canoe accommodation and transfers, started your course of malaria prophylactics (with advice from your GP of course) two weeks before your trip is due. Now it’s time to get packing.
10. Pack light! A couple of pairs of shorts/light trousers, khikoi/wrap/sarong to drape over your legs whilst paddling, lightweight long sleeve shirts, swimming costumes, sandals, trousers for the cooler evenings, Wide Brimmed Hat, Sunglasses and plenty of sunblock is usually sufficient.
Keep personal toiletries to the bare minimum… If you have excess luggage with you store it before you leave on your trip either at the hotel you were staying at or with your adventure travel company.
Now you are set! Arrive at your destination, enjoy your stay, have the experience of a lifetime on your canoe safari and leave with wonderful memories of your time on the Zambezi River.