Africa’s great waterways are lifelines for wildlife, but have also always served as important communication routes for animals and humans alike. Even now water travel remains one of the best ways to reach remote areas, way beyond roads or even rail.
Canoe safaris explore the Zambezi River, with Zimbabwe and Zambia lining the banks on either side. In Zambia, the focus is on short half-day trips while Zimbabwe offers longer expeditions lasting several days or more, exploring the shoreline of Mana Pools National Park with its myriad species of birds, honking hippos and huge elephants. The craft are two-man Canadian-style canoes, sturdy enough to cope with the river flow. All safaris use the current and travel slowly downstream. On longer trips camping equipment and provisions are carried in waterproof drums, with overnights spent on quiet islands and beaches. These canoe safaris require a certain level of fitness but no previous experience is necessary.
In Botswana a highlight is exploring by mokoro, a traditional dug-out canoe propelled by poles used since time immemorial by local people to travel around their watery delta wonderland. You sit securely in a legless chair in the middle of the canoe, while your guide stands in the back to keep the mokoro gliding along.
Sample mokoro safaris at Delta Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana.