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The Mana Canoe Trail (4 Days)

- Camping and Canoe Safari, operated by Natureways Safaris.

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Canoeing safari & camping along the fertile floodplains of the Zambezi River, Mana Pools National Park. - 4 Days) 

One of the most exciting ways to experience Africa, this safari is perfect for adventurous travelers, allowing guests the closest possible encounters with wildlife on one of the greatest rivers in Africa. This thrilling experience traverses the Mana Pools National Park, through the heart of Mana Pools and along the Zambezi's shoreline, canoeing past more than a thousand hippo on the way! Each night is spent camping on the banks of the Zambezi River, finishing 65km downstream and many adventures away from the start. Encounters with animals, whether on canoe or on foot, are up close and awe-inspiring. The Trail is for reasonably fit guests and is led by an experienced guide. Support vehicles and staff assist guests and set up camp each day prior to arrival.


This serviced camping safari offers a unique adventure for the traveller seeking an iconic African safari and an opportunity to enjoy one of the wildest stretches of the lower Zambezi River and the game that depends on its life giving waters during the dry season in a way that limits carbon emissions and ensures a back to nature experience. Remote campsites on this itinerary provide specially designed tents, designed for comfort in remote wilderness areas. Cotton linen and bedrolls (with duvets) with a lantern complement the atmosphere in this pristine and wild area.

Separate short-drop toilet and shower ‘bathrooms’ with old-style bucket showers create simple serviced comfort. By means of lively campfires, hurricane lanterns and a warm atmosphere permeating the camp (and its simplicity), Adventurer camping brings the guest closer to nature. Such camps are specifically outfitted to create that sense of wilderness with a clear emphasis on essential camp comforts and maximum wilderness experience. The fact that guests are self-propelled by means of canoe and foot on this safari results in far lower carbon emissions than a vehicle based Exploration and also allows a more immediate reconnection with nature.


The entire safari is guided and hosted by two professional and passionate river guide, who shares in-depth knowledge of the lower Zambezi ecosystem with the guests, to present a seamless, well-rounded experience.

Exclusive experience:

Each campsite within the Mana Pools National Park is reserved for the exclusive use of our guests and while on the river or on foot on its banks we enjoy the wild expanse mostly to ourselves. An Over-night at Ruckomechi camp either before or after the three night canoe trail we will most likely meet other independent travellers. Each night is spent camping on the banks of the Zambezi River moving further down stream. The attraction and fun of this safari is that guests have the opportunity to experience wildlife away from vehicles in canoes and on foot, at exceptionally close quarters under the direction of an experienced guide. These encounters are truly awe-inspiring. The canoes we use are sturdy Canadian canoes and are paddled by the guests. However, please be advised that this is a journey for the adventurous and not for the faint hearted as animal encounters are very close.

This safari is one of the most exciting safaris anywhere in Africa. Guests on this safari travel downstream from one end of Mana Pools to the other from West to the East - from Ruckomechi to Chikwenya. At all times the participants are within the national park traveling through superb countryside. The scenery is spectacular as the mountains of the northern escarpment of Africa's Great Rift Valley form the backdrop as we canoe from one camp to the next. Support vehicles and staff assist guests and move the camp each day. This safari is perfect for adventurous travelers, allowing guests the closest possible encounters with wildlife on one of the greatest rivers in Africa.

There is usually a gentle wind coming into the noses of the canoes from the East and this helps to keep the temperatures down. However the wind does make it critical that people who book onto the Mana Canoe Trail are reasonably agile. We are not expecting anyone to be a tri-athlete, but a reasonable level of agility is required. Do not book onto this safari if you cannot swim! We cannot take anyone over 70 years old. People between 65 and 70 need to have a medical certificate proving that they are able. If you do not fit into these parameters, but still want to do some canoeing in the Mana Pools area, we recommend you book into either Ruckomechi or Chikwenya Camps where half-day canoeing excursions are offered.

We will travel down past many pods of hippo. There are approximately 1,200 hippos along this stretch of the Zambezi. Crocodiles bask on the banks of the Zambezi. If you are lucky, you will encounter lots of game on the islands in the middle of the Zambezi as well as along its banks. Your guide will take you on walks into the park where you will have the opportunity to learn more about the fascinating ecology of the area and you will be able to track game on foot. This is not a safari for the faint-hearted, but is best suited for those who are looking for the opportunity to get close to what Africa is all about, far from the constraints of a vehicle.

Day 1: Start of the Trail, close to Ruckomechi, Zambezi River

Guests are transferred to Ruckomechi by air, arriving at around midday. At approximately 2 pm, after meeting the guide and going through a thorough safety briefing, canoeists start paddling downstream in sturdy Canadian canoes to our mobile camp in the Mana Pools National Park.

The camp will have already been set up in advance and the first afternoon of paddling covers about 10 to 11 kilometers. This is a relatively easy distance to cover in the time available and gives canoeists a chance to familiarize themselves with the canoes and the various paddle strokes required.

Days 2 & 3: Zambezi River wild camping

Typically, canoeists are awakened before dawn with tea/coffee and biscuits and we try to get onto the water just before sunrise. This is a magical time on the river as the water is usually calm and the peace and tranquility is amazing.

After paddling for usually about 2 hours, we beach the canoes on the bank of the Zambezi River and set out for a game walk. The guide chooses a suitable area, based on his knowledge of the area and game movements and we take a few hours to explore on foot, and unravel some of the intricacies of the bush. After returning to the canoes, and a light snack, we continue canoeing to a suitable lunch spot, arriving around mid-day. Lunch is carried in the canoes and is usually consists of a salad and cold meats. We normally rest up in the shade for a while or take another short walk before moving on arriving at the next camp at dusk. The camp, and all the luggage, will have been moved by the camp staff and all that is required to be done by participants is to enjoy a hot shower under the stars, and a cold drink, followed by dinner. The daily distances covered from one camp to the next are around 20 to 25 kilometers and the daily routine will vary according to wildlife movement.


Day 4: Transfer to Chikwenya Airstrip, end of services

After breakfast by the river, guests will either be transferred by Land Rover or a walk to the nearby Chikwenya airstrip for the flight out or can take a drive back Ruckomechi Camp for an additional night or nights stay if they wish to spend more time in the wonderful Zambezi Valley.

Accommodation and Camping Equipment

This is a true camping safari. However, we are able to support the canoe trail with a vehicle and staff who do all the camping chores and who make your camping as comfortable as possible. We have a guide who travels with you all day and he is supported by a back-up team of three who travel ahead by vehicle to the next site. We have one cook and two camp hands. All camps are set up prior to the safari's arrival in camp. Guests sleep in large tents in which one can stand. Comfortable camp beds, linen, blankets, pillows and towels are provided. The campsites have no permanent ablution blocks, so a bucket shower and 'long drop' toilet are set up by our staff.

Chairs and tables are provided for comfortable dining. Ice for drinks is available, and complimentary Zimbabwean wine is served with the evening meal. Cordials are supplied free of charge. A selection of soft drinks and local beers is available on a complimentary basis throughout the trail. Bottled water is always available free of charge. If you wish to bring your own wine of choice, we recommend that you do so. Zimbabwe's finest wines don't win many awards!



The Mana Canoe & Walking Trail includes the following activities: a) Canoeing - naturally. Comfortable and stable Canadian canoes are provided and have two guests per canoe. b) Walking with an armed guide. You'll look for game, birds and anything of interest. c) Fishing for tiger fish and bream is permitted within the National Park. However, guests are requested to bring their own rods and tackle.


One of the highlights of this safari is the walking and game tracking that guests will be able to do in Mana Pools National Park. Walking can, however, lead to encounters with wild animals which are potentially dangerous. Walking is, therefore, at your own risk. Please note, however, that walking at all times will be in the company of an armed, licensed guide.


Once you are on the trail, you are out of contact with the world. In case of emergency, The Mana Canoe & Walking Trail is in contact by VHF radio with Ruckomechi Main Camp and Chikwenya, who in turn are in communication with Kariba and Harare by HF radio. All guides will be able to communicate directly with Kariba by radio from the canoes in case of emergency only.

Food and Water

All food is prepared in camp, and a typical day's meals would be: Breakfast: A full hot English breakfast is served daily, unless we leave very early to start paddling. Lunch: A buffet selection of cold dishes, quiches, homemade rolls, cheese and biscuits and fresh salads are served. Dinner: Dinner usually begins with a starter (appetizer), followed by a wholesome freshly cooked main course with fresh vegetables. Desserts, cheese and biscuits and tea and coffee are offered after dinner. Vegetarian or other dietary preferences can be catered for providing we are warned in advance.

Bottled water is available at all times. Beers, soft drinks, wine, fruit juices and mineral water will be available on the safari. Should you have any specific preferences regarding your favorite drinks other than the above, please let us know well in advance or feel free to bring your own. There will be an additional charge for imported spirits. Again, we prefer it if you bring your own favorite spirits. We don't charge a corkage fee for your own drinks. Local wine, soft drinks, fruit juice, local beer, and bottled mineral water are included in the cost of the safari.

Medical Facilities

The Mana Canoe & Walking Trail is equipped with comprehensive first aid packs and guides hold advanced medical aid certificates.

Additional Options:

Guests may choose to combine additional nights at Ruckomechi Camp prior to Day 1 and/or at Chikwenya Camp at safari's end on Day 4.


Rates From: $1,450 per person sharing (Depending on season) - Please contact us for a quote and itinerary  


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African Safaris and Travel
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