Boating safaris are not the classic 4X4 game drive experience; granted, you do not find as many big animals as you do via a land safari. However, boating is a beautiful way to enjoy being in the bush and seeing the usual wildlife from a different perspective, as well as taking a more detailed view of some of the smaller things which you miss when searching for the big five. Oh, and sipping a gin and tonic whilst the sunset ricochets off the water can be an unforgettable experience in itself; wildlife or no wildlife! Boating is about appreciating the remarkable wilderness you find yourself in and taking a moment without the roar of an engine to just soak in the incredible atmosphere which keeps safari buffs returning year after year.
Zambia’s Lower Zambezi is one of the most beautiful and action-packed stretches of river in the world. The sunsets are never underwhelming here, and the croaking of hippos carries far and wide well into the night. It is truly mighty and unleashes itself into the Victoria Falls which is a must see if you find yourself in this part of the continent.
In the day, you can enjoy anything from rafting to canoeing; your experience can be truly what you want it to be. At night, there is no place in Africa more magical. Have a candlelit dinner out in the middle of the Zambezi on a sturdy float with your chef, enjoy sunset boat cruise and marvel at the pink glow of the sunset on the water all around. The Lower Zambezi is by far the best place to enjoy boating safaris on the continent.
The Okavango Delta is singular in that it is the only inland delta in the world. When the Delta is full (usually by July – September) you can enjoy winding through the waterways on a dainty traditional mokoro or take a trip out in a boat to get to the best sunset spot.
Some camps require a boat trip just to get to them, and this is the spirit of the Delta. It would be impossible to go and not have at least one fantastic boating experience there. It is truly beautiful and unique.
Linyanti is in the north east of Botswana and is a beautiful boating spot – one to rival the Lower Zambezi. The boating from camps like Duma Tau are gorgeous; step out from the waterdeck onto a boat and take a cruise along the river.
The sunsets are unbelievable and the accommodation wholly spoiling. You can even sleep out on the banks of this vast and winding river, enjoying a night under the stars with the murmur of the river below.
Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools is the place to go for the Lower Zambezi experience… But in Zimbabwe! Comparatively to its costly neighbour Botswana, Zimbabwe is extremely good value for money. The wildlife is phenomenal and the boating safaris are exceptional. All for a lot less!
Wild dogs are particularly good here for those who have been on a few safaris and never managed to tick these elusive animals off their list. As well as beautiful boating, walking safaris are also excellent here so Mana Pools is an ideal place for those who do not want to spend their whole safari in a vehicle.
Zimbabwe is good value for money, but the Selous is the best. The Rufiji River cuts through this wild and huge park in Tanzania’s authentic south. You will not see many other people here, on or off the river.
The boating safaris are excellent for a sun-downer, but also particularly good for spotting the extremely rare Pel’s Fishing Owl. A boat safari is as much of a game viewing experience as if you were on land.
Marc Harris is Managing Director of Africa Odyssey. Africa Oydssey is run by a team of award-winning experts offering tailor-made African safari holidays.