The Great Zambezi Canoe Safari



Great Zambezi Canoe Safari

This safari is geared more towards the canoeing enthusiast looking for the added element of excitement.


This is the only trip of its kind in Zambia that takes one through the entire length of the floodplains of the middle Zambezi to the remote Mupata Gorge before ending at the confluence of the Luangwa River.

On the safari clients can explore the numerous subsidiary channels of the Zambezi and the confines of the spectacular basalt gorges as the river winds its way towards the Indian Ocean. As these trips involve more detailed organization, they only depart on a few selected dates every year and prices will vary according to the number of people taking part.

As this trip passes through both the entire Zambian Lower Zambezi National Park on the left and the full length of the Mana pools National Park on the right ending at the Luangwa confluence with the Zambezi we have the option of a 4hr 30min road transfer back to Lusaka or a 45 minute chartered flight out. The cost of the charter is not included in the price of this safari.

Style of safari semi participatory

Duration: 5 nights/6 days

Area: Zambezi National Park / Mana Pools National Park

Distance: 163km with overnights on remote island camps

Safari Ends: road transfer from Luangwa Junction to Lusaka

(NB -This safari can also be run in conjunction with the Zambezi Short Canoe Trail to make a total of 7 nights 8 days.)

These canoeing safaris are totally self-contained with all the safari equipment carried in the canoes for the duration of the trip. Guides prepare meals while the guests participate in erecting their tents, sorting out their bedding and help with the general loading and off-loading of their canoes.

This trip may be lengthened or shortened accordingly to suit specific groups i.e. bird watchers who need additional observation time on the river.


There are several options in getting to the start of your Lower Zambezi canoeing safari:

Public transport to Oasis (about 15km before Chirundu)

Pre arranged private Mini bus transfers from Lusaka

Charter flight to Kayila Airstrip and then road transfer to Kayila Lodge

Public Transport:We will meet you at “Oasis” a “café” about 15km before Chirundu – just ask the bus driver to drop you off at Oasis and our vehicle will collect you from Oasis at around 10:30/11:00 on the morning of departure of the safari).

Private Minibus:We will take you straight to Zambezi Breezers for the start of your safari. Transfers from Lusaka come down on the day of the safari’s departure.

Charter Flight:We suggest landing at Kayila Airstrip

Road Transfer Times: Lusaka – Zambezi Valley (130km. approx 1 hr 45 min)

Charter Aircraft:Lusaka – Kayila Airstrip, Zambezi Valley air 30min


We use two man 18-foot Canadian Canoes with containment nets and ropes to ensure both safari and personal belongings are secure at all times.

Each canoe has five buoyancy chambers, while the bucket seats are cushioned allowing a reasonable level of back support. Single blade paddles are used and life jackets supplied.

Two-man mosquito netted bow tents are used, which allows for a full view of the night sky and maximum aeration. Sleeping bags, liners (sleeping bags inners/personal sheets) and airline pillows are also provided along with roll out mattresses.

Other equipment includes: cooler boxes, tables, chairs, gas cookers, melamine crockery, cutlery and a variety of other items are provided, to ensure a reasonable level of comfort is maintained for the duration of your canoeing safari.

Four-wheel drive vehicles are used as support vehicles for transfers and game drives where included. Boat transfers may also be used depending on the weather and time of year.


Three meals a day, cordial soft drinks and safe, treated water is supplied on every safari. However those wishing to bring their own bottled water may do so. Cooler boxes are provided should clients wish to bring their own selection of beverages for the duration of the safari. Complimentary wine is served with evening meals.


No previous canoeing experience is necessary but a reasonable level of fitness is required for this longer safari. At certain times of the year strong winds may occur which makes paddling more difficult. Should this happen, the guide will decide whether it is feasible to carry on canoeing or wait until it is safe to proceed. Guides have ultimate jurisdiction when determining the course of action required for the safety and welfare of the guests.


Unless notified, meals will follow the program below. Please note that we require prior warning of at least 2 weeks to cater for special diets or allergies to particular ingredients etc. The main dinners are in most cases part pre-cooked and deep frozen prior to the safari, so it is important to have sufficient notice of what is required.

Early mornings: Start with tea/coffee biscuits before setting off down stream after packing up canoes and clearing camp.

Breakfast : Generally after several hours of canoeing, the trip will stop for everyone to stretch their legs while the guide prepares an English breakfast of tinned fruit; eggs, bacon, sausages etc; then toast with marmalade or jam. Tea and coffee is served before starting off again.

Lunch : An assortment of cold meats, green salads, rolls and cheeses are served, along with a variety of sauces and pickled vegetables to complete the meal.

Dinner : Assortments of snacks are served followed by a full dinner consisting of beef, chicken or mutton as main course options with two green vegetables and a carbohydrate of potatoes, rice or pasta.

These canoeing safaris are self contained. All safari equipment is carried in the canoes for the

duration of the trip. Guides prepare meals while the guests participate in erecting their tents, sorting out their bedding and helping with general loading and off loading of their canoes.


As the Zambezi Valley can get hot in the summer months, we start early to make the most of the cool part of the day. The same applies for the late afternoons, while shade is sought during the hottest time of the day.


Meet at Zambezi Breezers at approx. 10h30 for connecting road transfer to downstream launch site. After a briefing and lunch on the banks of the river we start canoeing downstream toevening camp on Mtondo Islandarriving at around 5pm

Set up camp then snacks, dinner and discussion on the following days itinerary


Canoeing starts early after morning tea/coffee and biscuits, approx. 06:30

Depart Island camp for downstream breakfast stop approx. 08:30

Continue through to shaded lunch stop from approx. 12:30 to 14:00 out of mid day sun.

We then canoe through to our 2nd nights camp on or around Chikwenya island weather permitting.

This day we cover a good 25km of river through both Mana Pools and the Lower Zambezi National Park.


Full day canoeing as above

Again, the day is spent canoeing in the channels, rather than in the mainstream where possible

Part of this section is where the Zambezi is up to 3km wide in places.

It is through this area, flanked by the Mana Pools and the Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia,

that the safari is likely to see the highest concentration of game on the river.

Camp is set up at G. Campchannels for the night.


Here the safari exits both national parks into safari areas. The river begins to narrow down and the current becomes stronger as the river progresses into what is known as the False Mupata Gorge.

From this point the safari is confined to the mainstream. Canoes have to avoid the steep rock formations that jut out into the river, as well as the strong eddies and whirlpools that form off the back of those formations.

Camp on this night is selected from one of many sandy beaches on the mainland below the towering cliffs of the gorge.


This day is spent canoeing through the confines of the scenic Mupata Gorge observing the year old volcanic rock formations that form part of the Great Rift Valley.

In the mid afternoon the canoes exit the gorge and the guide locates a sand bank on mainland for the overnight camp.


Depending on the selection of campsite there is an early rise tea/coffee breakfast before the remaining paddle through to the end of the canoeing safari. The take out point is reached at approximately 1030hrs for the return transfer to Lusaka. This drive is in an open backed Land Cruiser

with a shaded canopy.

Alternatively, and depending on the group’s requirements and wishes, clients may continue to paddle on Day 5 through to the Feira take out point. This means the transfer will be able to leave earlier for the return 5 hour trip to Lusaka, but it also means that there will be no canoeing on the last day.



Clients are asked to keep their luggage down to a maximum of +/-7kg. Excess baggage and valuables can be kept safely at our office and collected on your return. Appropriate shirts, shorts, trousers etc in bush colours (preferably khaki, greens, greys or browns). Long sleeve cotton shirt suggested for fair skinned people including a light cloth to cover bare legs in summer months.

Water Bottle : Comfortable shoes (preferably worn in) they will get wet. : Warm clothing for winter mornings and evenings being June, July and August : Anti Malarial Prophylactics : Wide Brim Sun Hat

Sun Block : Insect Repellent : Personal Toiletries : Medications : Binoculars : Camera : Torch/Flashlight

Spare Batteries:Valid travel and health documents


Malaria: The Zambezi Valley is a malarial area, but your doctor can advise you on the appropriate prophylactics to protect you. Any health concerns or medical conditions such as allergies, epilepsy etc should be brought to the attention of the management prior to the start of the safari.

Nuisance Insects : We recommend the use of insect repellents especially from dusk onwards, together with wearing trousers and long sleeved tops.

Sun Protection : The use of wide brimmed hats and plenty of sunscreen are strongly advised on all trips, bit in summer and winter months. Long sleeved shirts and kikois/towels also protect arms and legs from sunburn during canoeing.

First Aid : All safaris carry medical supplies and the guides are trained in first aid.

Individual Health Issues : Any health concerns or medical conditions such as allergies, epilepsy etc should be brought to the attention of the management prior to the start of the safari.


On these semi participatory safaris, there are no ablution facilities. Clients are provided with a trowel, toilet paper and matches. For bathing, clients use a bucket of water from the river.


Minimum age is 15 years. There is no maximum age; however clients must be reasonably fit. The age limit may be flexible for a specific group booking with prior consent.



All canoe safari guides carry HF handheld radios. Each camp has an HF and VHF base set which allows communication between base camps, vehicles, canoes and Medical Air Rescue Services. Each professional canoe guide has passed stringent National Parks canoeing exams prior to leading a canoeing safari.

Travel and medical insurance is
compulsoryfor all clients. Please ensure clients have arranged this insurance in their own country prior to leaving so as to cover unexpected medical expenses and loss / theft of personal effects. Please ensure clients bring the details of their insurance policy with them. Clients will not be covered should they not have insurance.


The Great Zambezi Canoe Safari enters the Lower Zambezi National Park (LZNP) and National Parks fees are payable in US Dollars cash by each client.


Please check visa requirements with your agent. All our safaris take place in Zambia. It is advisable for all clients to check with the Zambian authorities whether or not they need visas for Zambia, and if necessary obtain their visas prior to departure.

These trips operate year round on pre –set departure dates. Temperatures are at their highest in September and October with the onset of the rains from December through to April where light weight, waterproof clothing is required. Winter runs from May to August where warm clothing is necessary in the evenings .

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