The most common trip is the "full
participation" canoe safari as opposed to the luxury or
semi-luxury combinations. Clients are expected to help with camp setup
and chores. As 90% of the trips are "mixed" groups
consisting of singles and couples, camaraderie develops quickly.
The best trips are a coin-spin between the backed up trips between Ruckomechi on the
upstream boundary and Chikwenya on the downstream boundary of Mana
Pools, the Chirundu to Kanyemba "participation safari", and
the "Great Zambezi Trail".
Trips designed to combine a
canoe safari and a walking safari are the best of both worlds.
The river guides are required to pass stringent
proficiency tests and gain extensive experience (the better operations
insist on over 1000 hours) before qualifying to run trips. There is a
relatively small pool of really competent guides and they are mostly
employed by the more reputable outfits. An even smaller pool of
Professional Guides and Professional Hunters with river guide licences
exists. These guides will conduct short walks if you're lucky enough
to have arranged them - they're the best. (During
the dry season from July to October - we run one trip a week: speak to us
The river routine is usually an early start after
sunrise to cover ground before the wind picks up by mid morning. This
is followed by a full (English type) breakfast on suitable stopover
sites. More paddling is followed by a cold lunch and siesta. Night
stops are usually reached about an hour or so before sunset - mostly
Camp setups are done to a formula (kitchen set up with
all equipment and utensils laid out strictly, shower unit up, tents
and mosquito nets laid out) - with "precision" in about 20
Sleeping arrangements are under a mosquito net
supported by paddles, single or double bed. Dome tents for two are
available but should be specified when making reservations.
The river flows at approximately 4 km/hour. Previous
canoeing experience isn't necessary. The canoes are the Canadian
standard. The entire canoeing safari isn't strenuous (unfit torsos
will feel aches at night but ten minutes of paddling the next morning
clears the system of lactic acid build up). The route is restricted to
shallow waters out of the way of hippo. Swimming is done on large and
very shallow sand banks out of the way of crocodiles and other game
(water fights are regular).
Siestas at lunch time are welcomed - river guides see
it as a job perk and the habit is unlikely to be broken. Reading
material or fishing tackle is a good idea for more active
participants. Fishing on the river is excellent, the river Tiger put
up a better fight than on those on Lake Kariba. The day's catch, if
any is prepared at night.
Meals are more than adequate and there are plenty of
leftovers for the fish. Breakfast consists of cereal, tinned fruit,
bacon, eggs, sausages etc. Lunches are usually made up of cold meats
and salads. Suppers vary: spaghetti bolognaise, beef stew, roast
chicken etc. with vegetables. Vegetarian and other dietary preferences
are catered for. Complimentary wine is usually served with dinners.
Other alcoholic and softdrink preferences need to be
arranged in advance. There is no shortage of cordials and fresh
drinking water in the canoes. The river water is considered safe to
drink but the risk of a tummy bug jeopardising a trip isn't worth it
so use what is supplied or take your own.
"Doug" and "Lucy" are standard
ablution tools. Doug is a small spade, Lucy is a fold up toilet seat.
Shrubs, reeds and trees afford plenty of privacy - some of the views
into the mountains and across the river during moments of deep
contemplation are spectacular. All tissue and toilet paper is burnt.
The campsites are hygienic and show no sign of over use. Avoid
undertaking your own "private safari" in order to maximise
Some basic canoeing rules include never starting a
water fight downwind and beware the "teapot sea anchor"
after having formed a social raft.
All of the canoe safaris which we offer start and end
in Kariba - this also applies to the trips running on the Zambian side
of the Zambezi river. Unless your connections to flights or other
activities in the area are planned properly you will need to consider
overnighting in Kariba at hotels, campsites
or lodges. These requirements can be arranged with ease.