The Zambezi River runs through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Africa. For centuries, explorers drifted down its waters by canoe as they traversed the changing terrain of the continent. Here are 15 reasons you should follow the path of the explorers and experience the Zambezi River by canoe.

1. You can get up close views of hippos and crocodiles


Paddling on the river itself or channels off the main river is a quiet method of transportation that allows you to get up close to animals without disturbing them. Hippos and crocodiles are especially visible along the route.

2. You can visit all year

zambezi river cruise in zambia

Visitors can experience the Zambezi during any season. Although, the dry season between April and October is considered the best travel time for longer safaris. When it comes to temperatures, June and July are on average the coldest, but a simple fleece will keep you warm — it’s Africa, not Antarctica.

3. It’s the perfect choice for first-time canoers


The Zambezi River a perfect choice for anyone new to sport. Although some rapids exist on the river, there are plenty of sections that offer tranquil waters. Families may also enjoy this option. Certain canoe safaris are especially designed for children as well as teenagers.

4. It’s an excellent opportunity for photographers

waterbuck on zambezi river

Photographers who are searching for special photos of the area will enjoy the changing perspectives while canoeing down the river. The Lower Zambezi is especially good for natural subjects such as Tumpeter Hornbill and Narina Trogon. Just make sure you bring a waterproof camera housing.

5. You can let someone else do the paddling

10 Alternative Safaris

You can hire a guide or someone recommended by the tour operator to paddle the canoe for you. This is especially great if you do not feel physically capable of paddling the planned route.

6. It’s close to national parks


The river itself runs through many national parks, including the similarly named Zambezi National Park in Zimbabwe. Gorongosa National Park also provides a day out from any canoe safari. The park is known for being home to hundreds of bird species.

7. You can double it up with a trip to Victoria Falls

victoria falls zambia

This well known natural attraction is found in the Zambezi River. Gentle rapids appear on the journey to the falls but most skill levels will be more than able to handle the area. Guides on the journey can steer you to the right route that matches your abilities.

8. It’s less expensive than traditional safaris

(Philip Brewer/Flickr)

Canoe safaris are a less expensive alternative to many standard safaris on reserves throughout the continent. All gear can be rented, and most tour operators include those costs in package deals. If you decide to bring your own gear, ask about a discount on those fees.

9. You can watch beautiful sunsets

sunset on zambezi

The calm waters of the Zambezi River make it the perfect location to view African sunsets. Just try to choose a spot away from Victoria Falls, as the area can become crowded with tourists and dinner cruises.

10. You can sleep under the stars

camping tent

Bush camps are situated at different spots along the river. Each camp features everything that you will need for an overnight stay. You can also bring your supplies such as a sleeping bag in the canoe and set up camp anywhere along the riverbank.