Mana Pools Canoe Fact File

Mana Pools Canoe Safaris Fact File & Info Pack

Physical Features of The Lower Zambezi River

The Zambezi River is the 4th largest in Africa, after the Nile, Congo and Niger. The River’s source is at Kalene Hills in North Western Zambia and flows approximately 2800 kilometers to Chinde in Mozambique, where it flows into the Indian Ocean.

Below Kariba Dam the narrowest point is approximately 80 meters and the widest point is 4.2 kilometers near Chikwenya, an island inside Mana Pools National Park.

From the first put-in point, a short distance below Kariba Dam Wall, the Kariba Gorge is narrow and fairly steep sided, this continues for 18 kilometers before the River opens out into a wide flood plain. The flood plain continues until the Chewore River mouth where the River narrows again at the start of the Mupata Gorge, which is approximately 46 kilometers long. This section is not as steep as Kariba Gorge, but is beautiful and very remote

The River has not flooded since the wall was built as the dam regulates the flow. (There was a minor flood when three dam wall gates were opened in the year 2000. However, this had minimal effect to the ecology downstream.) There are not enough tributaries below the wall to cause a flood during the heavy rains.

There are no rapids on this section of the river. The water is flat all the way from Kariba to Kanyemba, with an average flow rate of 4 km per hour.

The depth of the River varies from 24 -30 meters in the gorges to as little as 150 centimeters in the flood plain areas, although there is always a deep-water channel. There are a lot of islands and sandbanks, which make good camping spots.

Mana Pools National Park

Mana Pools National Park is situated along 80km of the Zambezi River, making for the best game viewing on the lower Zambezi. Here one can participate in canoeing, walking and/or game drives – or simply relax and take in the breathtaking beauty. Mana Pools is consistently rated in the top ten of Africa’s National Parks.

Mana Pools is the only game park in Zimbabwe to be granted World Heritage Status and encompasses some of Africa’s largest areas of Acacia and Mahogany woodland, combined with spectacular, full-canopy Mopane forest. Mana Pools is part of a 300 million year old rift valley supporting a large variety of mammals and over 400 bird species.

Covering over 200 square kilometers, this national park has been set aside to be kept as wild as possible. There is only non-invasive, zero-impact tourism allowed. There are no safari lodges, generators, electric fences or other structures associated with safari camps as these are banned by law.

All our camps must be taken down the day after our clients depart to ensure minimal damage to the ecosystem.

Wildlife is abundant in the valley especially during the winter months from June through to late August with game still being clearly visible through to the end of October / early November when the rains start.

The River runs through the Hurungwe Safari Area, Mana Pools National Park, Sapi Safari, Chewore Safari and Dande Safari areas respectively. Wildlife will be seen on every trip, most commonly impala, waterbuck, hippo, crocodiles, elephant and buffalo. Animals such as lion, leopard, etc, are more difficult to see but are certainly present. Wildlife is much more abundant in Mana Pools, especially during the height of the dry season (July to October) when the game viewing can be fantastic.

During the rainy season (mid November to end of March) the game is around but not as easily visible due to lush, thick vegetation and also the fact that there is more inland water (water holes) around for the animals therefore they do not need to congregate at the river to drink

The semi-participatory Explorer canoe safari options begin and end in Kariba (unless by other arrangement) and we recommend clients spend the night prior to trip departure, in Kariba town. We can assist with booking accommodation. Trips depart from our offices at approximately 08h30 and clients are collected if necessary and taken to our Kariba Offices to organize for luggage and personal items to be locked away and kept until their return and then on to the shops to purchase any extras they might require, as well as drinks of their choice. These trips are expeditionary-styled. All equipment is carried on the canoes and the canoeist’s camp on islands each evening.

Included in the cost of the semi-participatory safaris are return Kariba transfers to / from the safari; all camping and canoeing equipment; all meals; teas, coffees, cordials and wine with dinner and services of a fully qualified canoe guide. National Parks Fees and other drinks are not included in any costs. Please check with your booking agent before travel. On the last day of the safari, a vehicle meets the party and clients and equipment is transferred back to Kariba.

We cannot guarantee that clients will arrive back in time to catch flights the same day. Clients wishing to catch connecting flights must advise the guide and either have all luggages with them or organize the driver to bring down any extra luggage when he picks the clients up. The airport is on the way back to Kariba and there may not be enough time to return to hotels and then go back to the airport

Daily Routine

Generally the day starts with tea / coffee and biscuits at sunrise. The camp is packed and the party sets off. These early mornings make for easy paddling as the wind is calm and it is not too hot. A stop will be made for breakfast, usually after a couple of hours. Stops are made at any point of interest. The trip continues after breakfast, until breaking for a light lunch and siesta between noon and two pm. The night stop is reached at approximately

5pm. Camp is unpacked and set up and dinner prepared. Camp is generally set up on islands, at sites designated by National Parks. There are no ablution facilities. Clients are provided with toilet rolls, a spade and matches to burn the toilet paper. Bathing is done using water scooped out of the River in a bucket. Bio-degradable soap can be used in the River. Distance covered per day is approximately 22 kilometers.


Explorer Safaris are self-contained. All equipment and food is carried in the canoes and there is no vehicle back up apart from pick-up and drop off. They are to a small extent participatory; however the guides do the cooking and washing up.

Equipment Supplied

All camping equipment is supplied.

On Explorer Safaris – this includes gas stoves, kitchen utensils, plastic plates and mugs, pots, pans, tables, stools, camping mattresses, sleeping bags, liners, mosquito nets, candles and cooler boxes. Tents are available if required. The equipment and food (in large cooler boxes) is carried in the middle of each canoe. Sleeping bags, with sleeping bag liners, are provided but clients can bring their own if preferred. There are NO ablution facilities provided on these safaris. Fishing equipment is not supplied. Food

All food is supplied and meals are of a good standard. The meat and poultry dishes are pre­cooked and frozen. Food supplies carried by one rig will last for a 5-day safari; any longer trips are re-supplied either in Chirundu or Mana Pools. Breakfast usually consists of fruit, eggs, bacon or sausages, beans or tomato relish, bread (toast), marmalade, tea, and coffee.

Lunch consists of cold meats and salads, cheese, biscuits, pickles and rolls Dinners consist of a variety of meat and vegetable dishes.

DRINKS Teas, coffees, water and dinner wine only are provided on Explorer Safaris. Clients are therefore advised to bring their own minerals, beer and spirits. The guides will take clients to a shop prior to departure from Kariba, to purchase such items. Beers and minerals must be purchased in cans to reduce weight and space. 2 cooler boxes are set aside for keeping drinks cold. There is sufficient space to carry up to 5 crates of beer or soft drinks. There is no chance to replenish stocks on the River Clients must bring Wide brimmed hat – Sun block – Shorts / T-shirts – Track shoes / sandals Towel (provided on the backed up trails) – Tracksuit / Jacket / Jersey for cool evenings Bathing Costume – Insect Repellent –  Personal Toiletries –  Binoculars – Torch Film / camera batteries Money for National Parks Fees as well as Identity Documents where relevant

On Explorer Safaris – clients must try and keep their luggage to a maximum of 10kgs, as all luggage and food will be carried in the canoes. It is preferable that clients pack personal items into a soft duffle bag.

It is advisable to bring a light cotton kikoi (or Sarong) and long sleeved collared shirt for protection from the sun. Trousers for evening wear for protection from mosquitoes

Transfer Times

All Explorer Safaris transfers are made in open 4×4 vehicles. Clients do have an option to fly out of Mana Pools and Kanyemba on the day the safari ends (at an extra cost). Transfer times are generally of the following duration by road: Kariba to Gorge 20 mins Kariba to Chirundu 3 hours Kariba to Mana Pools 4 hours Kariba to Kanyemba 7 – 8 hours

Please note that transfers are done on dust roads

2) Zambezi Odyssey Trails – Backed Up options: Zim

These trips are fully backed up and in general more luxurious than the self-participatory trips. Perhaps the biggest draw card for our Luxury options is the standard of the professional guides leading these trails – They are amongst the best in Southern Africa

Our backed up options do not include transfers from Kariba. Clients usually charter in and out of Mana Pools to maximize their time spent on safari. Charters can be arranged from Harare, Kariba, Victoria Falls, Hwange, Lusaka and Livingstone

Please contact us if you would like assistance booking a charter flight. Alternatively guests will need to make their own way to Mana Pools by self-driving.

For the canoe trips please try and make it in by 11h30 at the latest to be able to fit in the afternoon canoeing

National Parks Fees are not included in the costs.

The Chitake Walking Camp is NOT recommended for first time travelers to Africa – it is a much specialized walking safari. Other trips can be lengthened according to client’s requirements. Canoe trails are 3 nights duration whilst all our other luxury products can be extended beyond the 3 night minimum stay. If non-canoeing activities are to be added onto a canoe trail there is a minimum stay of two nights, e.g. one can do a 3-night canoe trail followed by a two or three night Camp Zambezi / Chitake.

All backed up options include: – Professional Walking Guides; all up market camping and canoeing equipment; quality snacks and meals; full bar (local drinks).

Minimum passengers – 2  Maximum passengers – 8 Special arrangements can be made for larger groups upon request

AGE RESTRICTIONS Minimum 14 years – preferably accompanied by an adult. The minimum age can be varied if the children are accompanied by their parents and if it is only one group doing the trip (i.e. your party is not joining another party). There is no maximum age limit, please use your discretion. Camp Zambezi is flexible on ages depending on the makeup of the group.

DAILY ROUTINE Generally the routine is very similar to the explorer trips but tailored to suit the individual safari (e.g. as an alternative to canoeing there might be walking or game drives, etc) however it is a luxury camp and this camp may be static or mobile depending on requirements. The camp is packed up by our staff so as to ensure our clients spend as much time doing safari activities as possible. BACK-UP STATUS Odyssey Safaris are fully backed up. Where camps are supporting a canoe trail – all equipment, food and luggage is transferred from camp to camp by vehicle whilst guests are canoeing.

EQUIPMENT SUPPLIED All camping equipment is supplied. Odyssey Safaris are true bush camps – no electricity, no permanent structures, no plumbing, etc. A taste of the way safaris used to be. The eco-friendly camps are designed to be erected and dismantled within hours, leaving no trace of their existence on the environment. Camps have spacious walk-in tents with en-suite toilet facilities for night use and comfortable beds with fresh linen. These custom built tents are mosquito proof and have mosquito gauze for a roof so that one can lie in bed at night and enjoy the African night sky. Built in canvas shades ensure clients will not get wet if it rains and will have shade should they be in camp during the day and want to lie down. A “long drop” loo and bucket showers with lovely hot water will also be provided for day use. All camps come with a fully equipped kitchen, bar facilities and dining area. We provide full waiter service and will usually have a staff/client ratio approaching 1 to 1.

FOOD All produce is brought in fresh and meals are prepared in camp by one of our experienced bush chefs including breads and pastries on open fires. Breakfasts consist of cereals, muffins, biscuits and pancakes with a full English breakfast on at least one of the days.

Lunch is usually fresh quiche, lasagna, etc with a varied selection of freshly baked breads, salads and cheeses and dinners are a full 3-course meal with various starters, sumptuous main courses and fine desserts, eaten under the stars with an accompanying bottle of wine (Zimbabwean bottled).

Vegetarian or other dietary preferences can be catered for providing we are warned well in advance for all trips.

DRINKS All backed up safaris include a supply of local beers, spirits, minerals, wines and mineral water,  as well as teas/coffees and cordials. Drinks are served by our friendly camp staff whilst our clients relax and enjoy the safari experience. If clients prefer imported wines and drinks we can provide these, but the cost will be born by the clients.

CLIENTS MUST BRING  Wide brimmed hat –  Sun block –  Shorts / T-shirts – Track shoes / sandals Towel (provided on the backed up trails) –  Tracksuit / Jacket / Jersey for cool evenings Bathing Costume –  Insect Repellent –  Personal Toiletries – Binoculars – Torch Film / camera batteries –  Money for National Park fees as well as Identity Documents where relevant

It is advisable to bring a light cotton kikoi (or Sarong) and long sleeved collared shirt for protection from the sun. Trousers for evening wear for protection from mosquitoes.


EXPERIENCE AND FITNESS – No previous experience is required for any of our trails – however clients need to be reasonably fit.

CANOE SPECIFICATION – The canoes are Canadian-style two-man canoes that are 5.5 meters long and 0.92 meters wide. There 5 buoyancy tanks so the canoe does not sink if overturned or damaged. The canoes have proper seats with backrest and canvas cushions. Canoes are very stable and can carry up to 420kgs with ease. The paddles are American Carlisle, lightweight single-bladed.


All our guides have passed the examinations set by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management. They all hold either a River Guides’ or Professional Guides’ License. Guides carry weapons and radios. All guides have studied and passed a MARS (Medical Air Rescue Services) first aid course. If any problems should occur during the trip, there are various contact points along the length of the River. Explorer Safaris are led by qualified canoe guides with thousands of hours of canoeing experience (a learner canoe guide must have at least 1000 hours canoeing experience just to sit the canoe guides exam). Only the most experienced professional guides in Zimbabwe lead our backed up trails. The quality of our guides is one of our most important selling points. They will usually have at least a decade of experience (often more) and be able to share their incredible knowledge of the African bush and its inhabitants.

VALUABLES such as wallets, passports, air tickets and car keys, etc are to be left in the hotel safety deposit box or they can be locked up at our offices. On longer trips clients may join a safari at Chirundu or Mana Pools. On backed up trips where guests are going directly in to Mana Pools valuables will be kept with the luggage – our camps are constantly manned by a senior Camp Manager.

HEALTH – The Zambezi River is NOT considered a bilharzia risk. Malaria, however, is a risk and clients must take a course of anti – malaria pills before, during and after the safari. Please contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice. All guides carry a comprehensive first aid kit and are first aid qualified.

MEDICAL AIR RESCUE SERVICES (MARS) The Company subscribes to MARS and all clients are insured with the organization, which provides the facilities and staff to evacuate anyone who needs urgent medical attention to the nearest medical facility able to deal with their injury/illness. All clients MUST have their own Medical and Travel Insurance.

INDEMNITY FORMS – All clients will be required to complete an indemnity form prior to embarking on their safari.

PUBLIC LIABILITY – We are covered by a US$ 1 000 000.00 public scheme.

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