Canoeing Safaris down Mana Pools Canoe Trail: Exploring the Great Outdoors of Zimbabwe

by Sandy Salle on January 24, 2013

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Image above taken from the Wilderness-Safaris website

Picture this . . . A place where untouched landscapes span as far as the eye can see, where the only inhabitants are animals, and where a sense of calm and excitement simultaneously find a place within your mind, body, and soul. This is on Mana Pools Canoe Trail in Zimbabwe.

Location . . . Wilderness Safaris’ Mana Pools Canoe Trail passes along arguably the most wildlife-rich river in Africa, the Zambezi. As you venture along the Zambezi River, you’ll pass through the Mana Pools National Park, which is commonly referred to as Zimbabwe’s Wildlife Riviera because of its abundant wildlife.

Because the Mana Pools Canoe Trail is a 4-day adventure, the camp that you would be staying at is mobile—moving along the river as you do.

Perfect for . . . This activity is ideal for adventurists and individuals who are moderately fit and active (see below for details on what to expect on the Mana Pools Canoe Trail).

Accommodations . . . The Mana Pools Canoe Trail is not considered a “roughing it” experience, as all of the meals are cooked for you, a guide and staff are present at all times, and your tents are setup for you. The experience is not suitable for individuals who are looking for accommodations with proper doors and floors!

See below for a picture of the camp accommodations:

Image above taken from the Wilderness-Safaris website

The three nights spent along the Zambezi are in spacious tents with proper twin beds that are set up for you upon arrival to your camping location. Lanterns provide ample light for the evening and they also make for a romantic and enchanting setting along the river!

Guests also have to be comfortable with experiencing the sounds of nature at night.

Moderate physical demands . . . Although you are canoeing and taking part in walking safaris throughout the day, the guide and staff stop often so that guests can enjoy lunch, beverages, and lazy game viewing. Yes, you’ll have moments where you’re sweating and your heart rate is elevated; however, it is not a treacherous or highly demanding experience.

Itinerary . . . Along the Mana Pools Canoe Trail, guests experience up-close encounters with the wildlife of Zimbabwe, without the constraints of fences, game vehicles, and other restrictive barriers. In fact, the Mana Pools Canoe Trail is globally recognized for its ability to bring guests into the closest possible proximity to wildlife, without compromising safety.

Image above taken from the Wilderness-Safaris website

Below is a brief look at the itinerary associated with the Mana Pools Canoe Trail:

Day 1 – the adventures begin!

Today you will arrive at the Ruckomechi airstrip where you will be briefed on safety regulations. You will then embark on your canoeing journey down the Zambezi and will arrive in Mana Pools National Park where your camp will already be setup for you. This is considered a fairly easy day in terms of physical activity.

Days 2 & 3 – Uncovering the rich beauty of Zimbabwe’s Zambezi River

During the second and third days of your trip, you will awake just before sunrise to enjoy hot tea and coffee, and biscuits. Then, just as the sun begins to rise above the horizon, you’ll be on your canoeing journey, ready to witness the early rising game. You’ll paddle for approximately two hours before bringing your canoes ashore for an interactive walking safari.

The day continues on the water before enjoying a relaxing lunch break on the banks of the Zambezi. After lunch, the guide will either continue canoeing or take another walking safari, depending on the wildlife movements.

Once you arrive at the camp for the evening, all of the tents are set up and your luggage is waiting for you. You can then enjoy a hot shower and a beverage as you watch the sun go down. Then, it’s time for a tasty dinner.

Image above taken from the Wilderness-Safaris website

Image above taken from the Wilderness-Safaris website

Image above taken from the Wilderness-Safaris website

Day 4 – Relaxation!

After an exciting three days on the river, guests will enjoy a breakfast on the fourth day and then can choose to be driven back to the Chikwenya airstrip for their flight, or can be driven to the nearby Ruckomechi Camp.

Commonly spotted animals . . . African wild dogs, hippos, crocodiles, buffalo, elephants, a tremendous variety of birdlife, and so much more.

Best time to go . . . For the best game-viewing experiences possible, Mana Pools Canoe Trail is open between May and November, and trips depart on Mondays and end on Thursdays.

What to do after . . . After an exciting time on the water, it’s time to enjoy some relaxation! We suggest staying at Ruckomechi Camp for one night to enjoy game viewing poolside and a hot shower or bath. The next day, depart Ruckomechi Camp for Singita Pamushana Lodge (one of my absolute favorite lodges in all of Africa!) where you’ll enjoy game drives, guided bushwalks, birding safaris, fishing adventures, tennis, golf, and interactive bushwalks with the Sans tribesmen.

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