3 Day Canoe Trip on the Zambezi River
The Zambezi is a wide, shallow river with deeper channels that forms the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. During our 2 days on the river we saw no other canoes. There was a group of Spaniards just behind us but we never saw them on the river.
There was the occasional motor boat from the Zambia side but they are not allowed on the Zimbabwe side. In general game is pretty scarce along the river except for numerous pods of hippos.
The water levels do fluctuate from day to day making it necessary on some days to pull the canoe through the shallow sand bars.
You do spend a fair amount of time in wide open channels so any game on shore, including birds, is generally far away, but not always.
What makes the trip interesting and fun even if you are not an avid canoer is watching the reaction of the hippos. The guides are very cautious and try to keep you away from the pods but you are never 100% sure where they will pop up.
We saw a fair number of crocs including one that swam up next to the boat. Craig slapped the paddle on the water to scare it away. The loud crack scared me more than the croc did.
The guides stop frequently to stretch legs and pee, break for coffee and have lunch. For coffee and lunch they pull out a table and stools, table cloth and simple but nice spread – scones or muffins served with coffee or tea; for lunch quiche and salad one day, deep dish pizza sort of thing and salad the next.
With only the two of us on the trip they split up the guides, one guide with each of us. They do take groups of up to 12 but business has been slow in recent years due to the political climate.
With a guide in each of the canoes, the paddling could be as easy or intensive as you want to make it. Days were well broken up without long stretches of just paddling.
Mobile camps moved each day and were generally set up before you arrive. The sleeping tent was large enough to stand up in with two single, low narrow beds, a small table and a chemical toilet for middle of the night trips to the loo. Nice and open with mesh sides and top to catch the breeze or stars, but which can be closed for privacy.
Camp has a pit toilet, dug fresh each day, and a bucket shower tent with enough hot water for a good shower at the end of the day.
Drinks and soft drinks are readily available.
Appetizers are served by the camp fire and dinner is served family style with the guides. The first course is served and the main course and sides are buffet-style. Dessert is served individually. Red or white wine is available.
First Dinner – potato wedge with spicy avocado dip appetizer followed by roast beef, roasted potatoes, green beans, cheesy cauliflower and pudding cake with custard for dessert.
Second Dinner – fresh caught tilapia and roasted chickpea appetizers followed by a pork casserole over rice with stir fried mixed vegetables and cake with custard sauce for dessert.
Batteries can be charged in the vehicle but only while it is moving. We did not charge anything. The wake-up call at this time of year was before 6AM to get on the water before the wind picked up. In the morning they fill a basin next to your tent with hot water for washing up.
The temperatures were generally pleasant in the morning and evening, cool nights, warm in the afternoon and hot in the sun.
Canoes are stable but there is always a risk that a boat could tip due to hitting something in the water or a hippo surprising you.
September 3-6, 2016
For links to all the posts in this series see the Botswana/Zimbabwe page.