A canoe Safari is just the right tourism activity one needs to experience a different perspective of wildlife as you sail along the river. A kayak or canoe will help maximize the experience because your adventurous Spirit will be fed alongside the laid back pace of the river.
Why choose a canoeing safari?
Going for a canoe safari is very luring because of the many attractions it provides for. Firstly, it provides for people who prefer a private affair, enabling them to enjoy total exclusivity as they tour the pristine regions.
With a canoe safari, people can enjoy the magnificent environment enveloped in silence. Visitors can be certain to enjoy the beauty of the environment without the distraction of noise pollution and pollution cause by emissions.
With a canoe safari, it’s easy to get close to wildlife. When these animals look at the boats, they consider the human form as part of its outline. During your trips you may encounter different wild animals such as buffaloes and elephants at a very up-close distance which will give you a very unique experience. A canoe ride also offers you do some physical exercise as you enjoy your tour.
Types of canoe safaris
Travellers who are seeking a canoe safari experience in Africa should look at the several types of canoeing that are available so that they align their budgeting and consider the facilities provided, before booking.
- Full participation canoe safari :
One of the types is the full participation canoe safari; Here, canoeists will enjoy an overnightcamping experience on an island or the mainland –at place close to the river. In general, canoeists will organize all their gear and provisions and will place them in their canoes and move with them everywhere they go. All canoeists should expect to be involved in the camp life as they participate in activities like fetching water, cleaning and making the camp fire. The guide is incarge of all the meals during this experience. For accommodation, there will be small bow tents or mosquito nets thrown over a paddle. Full participation canoe safaris are the cheapest and yet most rewarding for the courageous Traveller because they are flexible and enable the traveller has so much fun and maximise on adventure.
- Backed-up trip
Another type of Canoe safaris is the backed up trip. These provide more comfort compared to the Full participation option. As you progress down the river, there will be a crew helping you. For accommodation,there will be large movable tented camps, which will shelter you during the overnight stops.
When not on the river, visitors can enjoy the walking option or use vehicles. At any point, there will be professional guides helping you understand the wildlife you see and maximize your experience. You will appreciate the meals served because they are of good quality similar to what you would expect from the permanent accommodation facilities.
- Half Day or Full Day Adventures:
Now these are normally looked at single activities in a longer safari itinerary that combines other safari activity such game viewing. Holidaymakers will be transferred to the canoeing site, and after their adventure return to their accommodation and continue with their safari itinerary. There are visitors who only seek a day’s experience, or simply, an afternoon safari. There are permanent camps which are fitted with canoe trails which provide for this brief canoe experience.
Canoe safaris for special groups
Canoe safaris are also tailored to fit specific groups. For example, there are canoe trips exclusively set for children. Their guides are professionally trained to handle them.
Some visitors are professional photographers and therefore take the trip just to capture iconic moments or pictures. These trips are led by professional guides well informed about photography
For those who wish to combine walking during the canoe experience, this is also available.
Safety during the canoe experience
It is the responsibility of the canoeists to ensure that their safety on the water is guaranteed. They can do this by looking at the saftety record of the safari operator. Backpackers and visitors with a string budget often choose the cheapest trips, however, they should take caution because this impacts on the quality of guiding services as well as the provisions. Generally the standards are not the same.
Best Places for Canoeing in Africa
- Mana Pools Canoeing in Zimbabwe
The Mana pools in Zimbabwe are an exciting place for travellers who enjoy adventure. The many itineraries available there make provision for close-up experiences with wildlife on river Zambezi, which is one of the greatest rivers in Africa.
This canoeing experience goes beyond the Mana Pools National Park, hitting the heart of Mana Pools and sailing along the Zambezi shoreline, feeding the eyes of the visitors to an innumerable company of hippos ashore. Each day meets its end at the resting place in the camps, on the banks of the Zambezi river, feasting on the sounds of Africa.
The guests should ensure that they are physically fit and are being guided by a seasoned guide because all their encounters with animals whether on foot or by canoe, will be up-close and will always be awe- inspiring.
Visitors can take advantage of the basic explorer style safari. This is an expedition that will last for about 4 days. After carrying everything in the canoes, you also participate in setting up your dwelling, which is a mosquito net over a one- man tent. You will also participate in other things like cooking etc. In this expedition, there is a qualified guide who will help with the washing,cooking and other camp activities. Your designated guide will be in towtohelp you navigate the Zambezi river safely. You need to know upfront that there is no provision for walking in the islands during this expedition.
There is also an option of taking Luxury Canoe Safari which comes with many advantages including first-class service. All the activities during that are centered around the guests. There are full waiter services ready to serve guests during meals. The meals are prepared by experienced chefs and served by waiters They are always fresh and cooked over open camp fires. There are spacious walk-in tents completed with en-suite toilet facilities that can be used in the night. There are hot open air showers and comfortable beds adorned with fresh linen. To top it all, there is a professional guide, helping you through the Zambezi river, through game drives or guided walks on the National parks.
Luxury Tsika Canoe Trail on Lower Zambezi NP, Zambia
The Luxury Tsika Canoe Trails is known for its beautiful wildlife viewing mostly through the canoe Safari down the Zambezi River. There are top quality lodges here, right in the Lower Zambezi National Park. Any guest who chooses the option of a canoe Safari here will enjoy accommodation at the Sausage Tree Camp in Chongwe as well as the Tsila Island Camp. The Tsika Island Camp firmly sits on a beautiful Island right in the heart of the Zambezi, it is a rustic and fashionable bush camp, found just thirty five (35) kilometers up-stream from the Chongwe camp.
The African bush is a perfect place to experience this adventurous continent as you canoe gracefully along the Zambezi. It is the best way to see both aquatic and land wildlife. The lodges and camps found in the lower will provide for comfortable nights. To top it all, the professional guides make this safari a worthy experience.
- Okavango Delta – Ker & Downey in Botswana
Ker &Downey can be found in the Okavango Delta’s Southwest region. Guests can enjoy safaris in this region on a traditional Mokoro. They also give a special program – the ‘footsteps-Across-Africa’. This program provides for an exclusive and private camping for a maximum of six persons. Guests who subscribe to this experience will enjoy guided walks in the Delta. The canoeing experience along the Okavango Delta navigates about seventy kilometers. This stretch goes straight into the center of the Selinda Reserve along the course of the Selinda Spillway.
During your stay at Ker & Downey, canoeists will be paddling eastwards, along the spillway to see different bird species and other wildlife positioned along the river banks. Visitors can expect to see about three hundred different bird species, the roan antelopes, sable antelopes, buffaloes, elephants and wild dogs. This area has a feel of privacy and remoteness. Canoeists will sail in the comfort of the Canadian-style canoes complete with cushioned seats. Accommodation will be in the dome tents found in the fly camps. These are complete with short drop toilets and hot bucket showers. It is in these fly camps that guests will be spending their nights. Visitors may also expect to see members of the cat family; Lions, Cheetahs and Leopards.
Note: Guests are encouraged to spend a nights in the Zarafa or Selinda camps. It is an experience they can look forward to especially after the Trail.
- Canoeing in Uganda
Enjoy the serenity and beauty of Uganda’s waterways, and get a chance to experience the wildlife in a very unique way. 18 percent of the total land mass of Uganda is covered by rivers, wetlands and lakes among which is Lake Victoria the largest freshwater lake in Africa as well as the source of River Nile – the longest river in the world.
Some of the best place to go the canoeing include: the shores of Lake Victoria, Ssese Islands, Katonga Reserve, Mabamba swamp, Semuliki Wildlife Reserve, Lake Mutanda as well as Lake Bunyonyi.
Best time for Canoeing in Uganda: the rains begin in March to May and then from October to December. The short rains start in the month of November to December, while the dry season starts in late-December to February and then from June to the month of August.
- Canoeing in South Africa
Canoeing offers tourists a chance to unwind and enjoy the peaceful and beautiful rivers found in South Africa. generally, this activity is under looked by many however it give a great diversity of variations that are focused on keeping you healthy as well as soak into the purity of unpolluted fresh air. The country offers a large number of rivers, dams, the Indian Ocean and lakes where this activity can be enjoyed. from the Drakensberg Mountains, through the Zulu lands and into the Ocean, several water channels including river Pongola, Umkomaas, river Buffalo, Umzimkulu, Thukela, Umgeni and Mooi rivers flow. All these offer quite challenging canoeing experiences to holidaymakers interested in canoeing.
If you explore the lakes of Maputa land, the Kosi system, Lake St Lucia and Lake Sibaya. You will get a chance to enjoy breathtaking up-close views of different wildlife including crocodiles and Hippos.
Tips for Canoe Safaris
in case you are not on a combined safari such as canoeing tor combined with a game viewing safari, you are highly advised to book your hotel prior to the canoeing tips as well as after your, to avoid any travel delays that may lead to you arriving late for your canoe adventure as well as help you get an additional good rest at the end of the tour.
While packing your luggage, donot forget attires which are favorable to the weather. For example, shirts with extended sleeves, towels for protecting your whole body when canoeing from the severe reflections of the sun bouncing off the water surface.
A pair of sunglasses with a strap together with a safari hat preferably with a wide brim which can cover you face well are suggested.
To protect again the hot sun rays, don’t forget your sunscreen as it is also an added necessity.
Put it in mind that in the evenings, the temperature will be low. Therefore, it is better to have a sweater or an attire that will warm you up.
Carry strong hiking shoes for wearing while at the camp and hiking, plus rafting sandals for use while in the canoe boat.
When one a full day canoe tour, a torch with excess batteries by your side mostly for when you’re on the temporal camp
You should pack with you all valuable items like cameras in water resistant packages for.
Fishing can be fantastic as well, so anglers are best advised to bring their personal equipment to engage in spot fishing
Bring a lightweight rain coat for protection against the rain while canoeing
Limit your luggage to ten kilograms especially when going on a full participation tour since you will be traveling with it in the canoe.
What to Pack for a canoeing safari
Below is a Canoe-Safari packing list which is very vital for your adventure. While on this safari, sunscreen, a good safari hat and shades are very essential to the canoeist. Also it is important to carry with you a story book or magazines for your midday rest.
Neutral colored comfortable shirt.
Shades or sun glasses
Purifying water bottles
Neutral colored shorts or trousers.
Wide brimmed cap
What to Wear while Canoeing
Generally the outfits for canoeing have similar requirements as most outdoor activities. Therefore, you should get something that is flexible, strong and comfortable, as well as keep you warm especially on the cod rainy days. Below are the guidelines to follow as you decide on what to wear.
- Endeavor to dress up in a personal flotation device (PFD) that is well fitting and remember not to remove it. Or instead, in case of any changes, just find a way of removing the one you have on top. Or else, you can arrange with your kayak friend to hold the cruise tightly as you change but still, the best choice is changing at the beach shores. In case you wish to remove or add to your top layers, it is recommend to go onto land and do so. Alternatively, you can raft-up, by having one of your friends hold he canoe firmly as you change.
- Put on according to the temperature of water but not air, in other words wear either a dry suit or a wet suit.
- It is recommended to dress up in layers particularly on top
- It is good idea to put – on sunscreen; irrespective of the raincloud cover of the day because, being on water exposes you a lot to the sun. Another good choice is wearing clothes whose fabric is UPF-rated.
- Get rid of cotton clothes due to the fact that they absorb water and normally take long to dry. Therefore, Get clothes which dry quickly.in addition, tight clothes may work but still get the ones which dry quickly. For example, polyesters and nylons or another type which may dry faster. Some materials like wool take long to dry but when wet they keep the body insulated so it is also ok to have it.
- Get clothes which are flexible, allow you to move easily and at the same time enable you to sit comfortably for a long period of time.
- Search for ‘all condition ‘clothes which are tough and can easily bear the conditions of the sand and also with stand water and rough the surfaces of your boat.
- Get rid of fasteners, zips and any other hardware that easily rusts. This is because salty waters, destroy lots of metals.so, rough plastics may be an advantage.
Frequently Asked Questions about Canoeing Safaris
- What will I see on a canoe ride?
There is always a totally different safari outlook and experience when using a canoe than driving car or hiking. While touring down the course of the great African rivers, it is unbelievable but you will observe a lot especially the numerous thirsty animals that converge at the river banks to quench their thirst. Therefore, in simple words this can be described as ‘adventuring through the center of Africa’s wildernesses’. Also, chances are high that you will have a close encounter with elephants, hippos, and buffalos and if lucky see lions and then regularly leopards resting in a shade on the river banks. the biggest limitation however is that you may not be able to stop for long or instantly make a u-turn since you move with the water current.
By nature, the bird life thrives and there are clear, nice views with higher chances of photography of the colorful water birds, bee-eaters and kingfishers
- Is canoeing safe?
Your physical going into the territories of crocodiles and hippos which are among the scariest African animals, may appear contrary to common sense intuition yet in reality it isn’t the case and below we tell why.
- Canoe riding is done on large wide rivers that offer adequate space for negotiating your canoe around the hippos.
- You must always be escorted by an attendant who is well versed with the different sections of the river.
- Lucky enough, crocodiles in one way or another fear canoes; they don’t look at the people inside the canoe as prey to feed on.
- It is advisable to use wide and stable Canadian-type canoes not the small dug outs or the small technical ones called the ‘mokoros’.
- Do I need prior experience to canoe?
There is no need to have experience, as long as you are of the age of fourteen and above you will be allowed to take park in most places. You will be completely briefed about the activity on how to operate the canoe with the help of the guide. All less experienced participants will seat in the font part of the canoe where the canoeing skill is less essential.
- Is canoeing physically challenging?
It isn’t really challenging since you follow the river current and the only task you have is to paddle so as to direct the movement of the canoe. Today most canoeing expeditions are done as ether half day or full day activities with very few multi-day adventures.
Useful Canoeing Tip:
Shades, A hat, a kikoi or throw-on will protect you from the sun