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The Tamarind canoe safari

Our most popular lower Zambezi canoe safari over 4 days from Chirundu down to Mana Pools World Heritage Site. One of the best ways to experience big game and real African wilderness.

Unquestionably the best canoe safari in Africa

  • Lower Zambezi River
  • Chirundu to Mana Pools
  • 4 days/3 nights

Our Lower Zambezi canoe safaris start from Kariba, 600km downstream of Victoria Falls. Paddling through the silent, deep gorges below Kariba. Through the languid but wild mainstream past Mana Pools to the largest, most remote, least populated and undeveloped safari areas – through Chewore, Sapi and the Mupata Gorge to Kanyemba. 230km of untame adventure!

Tamarind Canoe safari highlights…

  • Excellent wildlife
  • stargazing
  • top notch professional guides
  • perfect for adventurous spirits and serious safari people

When’s the best time to take a Zambezi canoe safari?

  • These trips are available throughout the year.
  • May and June – mildest weather and clearest skies
  • July to September – high season
  • October and November – devilishly hot, the game is at it’s very best and the migrant birds are in the Valley
  • November to March – wet season. The only option is to run the Kariba and Chirundu to Mana “participation” trips

How to choose the right canoe safari

We do it three ways – fairly tame, adventure style, intrepid…

Fairly tame: A 4 day shoreline trail from Ruckomechi down to Chikwenya. It’s the full Mana Pools stretch in the World Heritage Site. The trip starts from a 4 star premier lodge with first class hosting.  You move onto basic backed up camps for 3 nights. They’re 1 star. Encounters en route, land, water and otherwise are 5 star.

Adventure: We start from Kariba or Chirundu to do 4 or 6 days worth of canoeing. Your 19 foot Canadian canoe is well laden with provisions and camping kit. Your paddle will hold a mosquito net over a warm bedroll en route. In the wet season you’ll even have a small tent to keep you dry. Irrespective of season you probably won’t sleep much! The days are full and active, you’ll see a million stars at night.

Intrepid: We can include some premier lodging at the start and end of this bucket list experience but we get back to basics on these canoe safaris. We delight in doing all 230km camping style. The Kariba-Chirundu stretch is epic but quiet, the Chirundu-Mana is first-class wildlife. Fewer than 200 souls canoe the remote lower stretches each year. The full 10 day trip down to Kanyemba is worth a gazillion stars.

Private safaris can be arranged for up to 8 people in a party.

Walking trails are available.

Other canoe safaris here.

ItineraryFrom $860

Day 1 - Kariba to Chirundu Day 1 - Kariba to Chirundu View More

Early pick up from your hotel in Kariba. 4x4 transfer to Canoe HQ for briefing. Load up the canoes. Lunch on the river. Set up island camp on Kakomarara around 5pm, safety talk, relaxation and dinner.

Day 2 - Mana Pools National Park Day 2 - Mana Pools National Park View More

Rise at dawn, tea/coffee, biscuits then set off for a couple of hours paddling, stop for breakfast and canoe until midday. Lunch and siesta 'til mid-afternoon setting up camp on Lone Acacia Island.

Day 3 - Mana Pools National Park Day 3 - Mana Pools National Park View More

Routine as day 3. Mana Pools NP is one of Africa’s best game-viewing regions. Discover wildlife, diverse fauna and walk in the riverside forests. Stop at Trichelia Island to set up camp.

Day 4 - Departure Day 4 - Departure View More

A more leisurely start this morning, pack up camp and set off, canoeing to Mana Pools,a arriving around 10am for your return to Kariba by approx. 3pm.

View full digital itinerary here
Useful info How to get thereTips and notesWildlife

How to get there

The canoe safari starts and ends in Kariba town in Zimbabwe or by road from Lusaka. By air charter from Lusaka (Zambia) or Harare (Zimbabwe) at extra cost.

Tips and notes

No previous canoeing experience is required but a reasonable degree of fitness is necessary. The river runs at a gentle pace to help everybody along but full days in the fresh air make the daily siestas essential.

We use stable Canadian-style two-man canoes, 5.5 metres long, 0.92 metres wide with a carrying capacity of 420kg. They have 5 buoyancy tanks so there’s very little risk of sinking. Your only weapon is an American Carlisle, lightweight single-bladed paddle.

Excess baggage and passports should be left in the Kariba office.

A limited supply of alcoholic beverages is included but extras drinks can be purchased from Kariba.


  • Return transfers from Kariba town
  • All meals
  • Drinks – water, tea/coffee, 1 glass dinner wine
  • 2 guides
  • All camping equipment


  • international flights and transfers to Kariba
  • gratuities
  • National Park and River usage fees (paid direct before launch)
  • Visa entry fees
  • overnight hotels in Kariba.

The canoes are Canadian-style two-man canoes that are 5.5 metres long and 0.92 metres 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.

You will be able to leave excess baggage and your passport in the Kariba office before you depart. DO NOT TAKE YOUR PASSPORT ON THE RIVER WITH YOU!



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