Safari finder

Canoe safaris in southern Africa

Africa’s wilder rivers and major watercourses in remote and uninhabited areas present some of the continent’s wildest fly-camping and canoe safaris. You’ll find that big game populations are strong. As a result we get to experience Africa in a very raw state.

Because we’re remote, most of the time we prefer to sleep under the stars. We carry basic provisions and find that weather, river conditions and game encounters en-route dictate the routine. As we get further from launch point we find less access to road and further downstream there’s no road access to long stretches of the rivers. So solid planning and experienced Professional Guides are essential prerequisites. True expeditionary trips aren’t commercially available. We do however run a series of set-date canoe safari options in southern Africa on the upper and lower Zambezi, also the Selinda Spillway in northern Botswana. They suit tame, adventurous and intrepid dispositions.

What to expect on a canoe safari

You’ll regularly encounter big game in the form of elephant, hippo and crocodiles in the water. Canoes don’t disturb buffalo, kudu, eland, predators including lion and other large mammals as they gather near shorelines. You’ll find a fantastic array of resident and birdlife through the season. However it’s the October to March period that has the most migrants.

On the one end of the scale we’re self-supporting and wild-camp on islands. Alternatively we spend nights in fully supported mobile fly-camps. In some cases we’ll make use of a comfortable permanent lodges to start or end a canoe safari.

Days on safari are generally very active and prior canoeing experience isn’t essential. A reasonable degree of fitness is always a good idea. We’re generally on the water just after sunrise, we break for brunch and siesta in the early afternoon heat, then paddle through the afternoon to catch sundowners in camp before sunset. Bush TV always involves a primal fire.

Our canoe safari season

The tamer options on the Upper Zambezi above Victoria Falls are available year round. However it’s the remotest stretches of the lower Zambezi into Mana Pools and beyond or Botswana’s Selinda that are best accessed during the drier months from May through to mid-November. As game conditions on the water are always a fresh start at the beginning of the season we much prefer having newcomers on the lower Zambezi run trips later in the season.

(Photo credits: Dana Allen and Colin Bell for Wilderness Safaris; David Foot)

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Gus Alexander leading one of the lower Zambezi canoe safaris for Natureways - courtesy James Varden

Lower Zambezi Canoe safaris

We've run canoe safaris since 1995. From Kariba, past Mana Pools, Sapi, Chewore and Mupata Gorge to Kanyemba. 230km of untamed adventure!

From $750 9 days / 8 nightsMore info
Mana Pools by Noel Smith

Tamarind Canoe Safari

The Tamarind canoe safari is one of our most popular lower Zambezi canoe safaris over 4 days from Chirundu down to Mana Pools World Heritage Site.

From $860 4 days / 3 nightsMore info
Canoeing on the Selinda by Garth Thompson courtesy Hilton Walker

Selinda Canoe Trail

Lush and green... the sheer excitement of the arrival of life-giving water is infectious! A rare and extraordinary Canoe trail adventure

From $2999 8 days / 7 nightsMore info
Elephant encounter on the Mana shoreline courtesy James Varden

Spirit of the Zambezi Safari

Best of the Zambezi. Canoeing, walking, top guides, outstanding wildlife in Mana Pools, Matusadona, Victoria Falls and Zambezi National Park.

From $3499 10 days / 9 nightsMore info

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