Current as of: May 24, 2024 - 19:54

Zambezi Canoe Safari

Zambezi Canoe Safari Trip Notes

  • Ways to Travel: Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
  • Destination: Zambia
  • Programmes: Wildlife
  • Activity Level:

    3 out of 7 - Moderate

  • 10 Days: Flight Inclusive
  • 8 Days: Land Only
  • Ages: 16+
  • Trip Code: WZC
  • Carbon Footprint: 13kg CO2e

Trip Overview

Enjoy a superb canoe and walking safari in the Zambezi Valley

Encounter the spectacular wildlife and incredible scenery of Zambia in as intimate and active way as possible. The mighty Zambezi is an excellent location for a canoe safari. Camping on secluded beaches, the days are spent relishing magnificent scenery and abundant game, while passing the ever-present basking crocodiles and hippos. Away from the water, we have plenty of time for game walks and drives to experience the diverse wildlife and remarkable scenery this region offers.

This trip includes a few of our Citizen Science Departures. These special departures offer you the opportunity to be involved in the collection of freshwater samples during the trip. The environmental DNA information derived from this sample contributes directly to the eBioAtlas, the world’s largest repository of flora and fauna species data, contributing to the conservation and restoration of biodiversity both locally and globally. To book onto one of these special departures, see the Dates & Prices tab. For more information on these departures and the eBioAtlas, click here.

Zambezi Canoe Safari

At a Glance

  • Four nights of semi-participatory camping with either limited or no facilities, three nights of camping in a tented camp with shared facilities
  • Travel by open canoes on the Zambezi River
  • No previous experience necessary
  • Citizen Science departures available on this trip


  • Experience the peace and tranquillity of canoeing on the Zambezi
  • Camp under the stars on secluded islands
  • Game drives in Chiawa Game Management Area, renowned for elephant sightings
  • Game walks and canoeing in the Lower Zambezi National Park

Is This Trip for You?

This trip is graded Activity Level 3 (Moderate) with a Wildlife Rating of Four. Visit our Activity Level Guidelines page for more on our trip gradings or our Wildlife Holidays page for more on our Wildlife Ratings.

This is generally a comfortable participatory safari but, as it goes through some wild country, come prepared to be flexible and expect delays or inconveniences.

Travel is by Canadian-style 5.5m (18ft) two-person canoes and open-backed safari vehicle. No previous experience is necessary but you should have a reasonable level of fitness as it is an active trip. An ability to swim is recommended.

Adult min age: 16

Min group size: 4

Max group size: 12


Zambezi Canoe Safari

Land Only

  • Start City: Lusaka
  • End City: Lusaka

Land Only Itinerary

Day 1
Start Lusaka; transfer to the Zambezi River

We gather at Lusaka Airport for our transfer to the Zambezi River. Most of this journey to the start of the safari is on tar road with the last section along a bush dirt track, meaning a change to a 4×4 vehicle is necessary. Depending on the time we arrive at the Zambezi River, we cross over to our evening campsite on Nyamumba island by canoe or motorboat. Dinner is prepared by the guide.
Please note: If you’re booking your own flights, do not book one arriving after midday.

Accommodation: Wild camping (semi-participatory)

Meals included: Lunch, Dinner

Days 2 - 4
Three days of canoeing and wildlife watching on the Zambezi River, camping on remote islands

We have three days canoeing with early starts, as it is often better to canoe in the early hours when it is not so hot and, more importantly, when the easterly head wind is weakest. The pace is gentle, which allows us to make the most of our wildlife-viewing opportunities. We look for elephants feeding on the banks, basking crocodiles and numerous colourful bird species including the magnificent African fish eagle. The list of species we spot may include buffalos, baboons, vervet monkeys, pied kingfishers, goliath herons, carmine bee eaters and maybe even lions. We frequently pass hippo pods basking in the deeper water, who will no doubt keep an eye on us! There are few signs of human habitation throughout our time on the river. Lunches and breakfasts are either taken on islands or on the riverbanks.

Accommodation: Wild camping (semi-participatory)

Distance covered: 12mi (20km) per day on average

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5
Morning canoeing; afternoon game walk and drive in Chiawa Game Management Area

We canoe to the Chiawa Game Management Area, which is 11mi (18km) from the Lower Zambezi National Park, just opposite the Mana Pools, where we spend the night in our fly camp on the mainland. This is a wildlife-rich area and renowned for numerous elephant sightings. It is also home to warthogs, waterbucks, impalas, kudus and rare samango monkeys, with many riverine bird species including the lilac-breasted roller. We have an afternoon game walk or game drive through the reserve, where we hope to spot other nocturnal species such as genets, civets, hyenas, porcupines, aardvarks and, if we’re really lucky, the elusive leopard.

Accommodation: Fly camp in Game Management Area (comfortable)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6
Canoe to Lower Zambezi National Park; morning game walk; afternoon game drive back to camp

Today we canoe from the Chiawa Game Management Area into the Lower Zambezi National Park (approximately 5mi/8km downstream). We have a morning game walk with a guide, and then lunch in the park under the shade of the trees or on the banks of the Zambezi River. After lunch, we are taken on a game drive through the park back to our fly camp on the riverbanks of the Game Management Area. If river water levels are too high in winter (May-July) – which can happen when excess water is released from Lake Kariba – we may use a boat transfer as certain road crossings may be flooded.

Accommodation: Fly camp in Game Management Area (comfortable)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7
Transfer to our riverside camp

We are transferred by road from our bush camp in the Game Management Area to Zambezi Breezes. Should river conditions necessitate, we may use a boat transfer where required.

Accommodation: Zambezi Breezes or similar (semi-participatory)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8
Transfer to Lusaka; end

We have an early start today. After breakfast, we transfer approximately four to five hours to Lusaka where our tour ends in the late morning. If you’d like the adventure to continue, speak to your sales representative about extending your stay.

Meals included: Breakfast



Zambezi Canoe Safari

We spend four nights camping in two-person dome tents and three nights in set-up bush camps with showers, toilets and large tents.

The camping is semi-participatory. You are asked to assist with camp chores and have to put up and dismantle your own tents on the canoeing safari. Most nights are spent wild camping with no facilities provided. All camping equipment is provided.

Single supplement from £ 260

Food & Drink

All breakfasts, seven lunches and seven dinners are included.

Meals are prepared for you but group members are asked to assist in preparation and washing up.

Typical meals

  • Breakfast: Cereals or coffee and toast plus a fried breakfast on most days
  • Lunch: Fresh salads, cold meats, cheese, bread, condiments, fruit
  • Evening meal (biggest meal of the day): Stews, pasta, curry, local cuisine

Vegetarians can be catered for but, given the difficulties of preparing different meals while wild camping, the variety of food may be limited.

Please indicate special dietary requirements (eg vegetarian or allergies) when booking. We supply the following drinks: fruit squash served throughout, and tea or coffee served with breakfast and dinner.

There is always a plentiful supply of chlorinated water available (sometimes even chilled!) and we encourage you to drink water throughout the day to avoid dehydration.

All other beverages are at your own expense and can be purchased at the supermarket in Lusaka prior to travelling to the river.


Travel is by Canadian-style 5.5m (18ft) two-person canoes. Transport on land is in a minibus or Landcruiser for road transfers and safaris.

Travelling conditions

Most of the roads in Zambia are reasonably well maintained; however, some stretches have a few potholes and rough surfaces depending on the previous rainy season. Some travel is on unsurfaced roads, some of which are quite dusty and bumpy (eg during the game drives).


Exodus strive to ensure client safety and take all necessary precautions. On certain sections of this itinerary, we are likely to come into proximity of several different wildlife species. These mainly include hippos, elephants, buffalos and, occasionally, crocodiles while on the water, along with a variety of other game while on foot. As all wildlife is potentially dangerous, it is important to heed all advice given to you by the guide and to follow instructions accordingly.

Lifejackets are available for those who would like to wear them.

Weather & Seasonality

With exceptionally mild winters, Zambia is best enjoyed during the dry season. This period extends from May to early November. The days are generally dry, hot and sunny with daytime highs around 25C (77F); however, nights can be cool (down to 10C/50F). From June to August, it can be exceptionally cold. September and October are the hottest months, where daytime highs are regularly 35C (95F) and night-time temperatures can be around 23C (73F). Rainfall is generally confined between November and April. Rains normally occur as heavy showers, but they tend to clear rapidly with sunshine still predominant.

Joining Instructions

Key information

Start point: Lusaka Airport (LUN)
Recommended arrival time: Do not book flights arriving after midday on the first day
Airport: Lusaka Airport (LUN)

Getting to the start accommodation
On the first day, we meet as a group at Lusaka Airport for an early afternoon transfer to the Zambezi River. It is essential you join this group transfer, so please do not book flights arriving after midday on the first day.

If you would like further information on joining this trip, please speak to your sales representative.

Catching your return flight

There’s a group transfer to Lusaka on the final day, where our tour ends in the late morning. There is then a group departure transfer to Lusaka Airport (LUN) for customers who Exodus booked onto a chosen flight to London, UK. Please speak to your sales representative if you wish to join. If the group departure transfer does not suit your flight time, speak to your sales representative to arrange an alternative transfer.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start: Lusaka
Location end: Lusaka

What To Take

Essential Equipment

  • Neutral-coloured clothes (for the game walks)
  • Comfortable walking shoes that will not be ruined if they get wet (rafting sandals are ideal footwear for canoeing)
  • Wide-brimmed sun hat to ensure the back of your neck is shaded (as there is sometimes a strong headwind on the river, a hat with a chin strap is advisable)
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Insect repellent
  • Headtorch (head lamp)
  • Binoculars
  • Gloves – cycling gloves with finger cut outs give good grip
  • Light rainwear
  • Some warmer clothes for winter and after sundown
  • Swimwear and lightweight trek towel
  • Long-sleeve shirt with collar and some lightweight trousers (pants) for the evenings to keep insects off and to protect yourself from too much sun.
  • Large water bottle
  • Lightweight backpack with plastic liner or drysack for keeping any items you need to hand while canoeing (eg camera, sunscreen, water)
  • June to August, bring a warm fleece and possibly a woolly hat

Please note, you need a smaller bag to take 11lb-15lb (5kg-7kg) of stuff with you on the canoe safari – your main luggage is sent to the fly camp where you have it after the canoe safari finishes. It is best to have this smaller bag already packed before arrival as there is not much time on the river to repack before the canoeing starts. It is also best to pack enough clothes for the first three nights on the river in your carry-on bag, as well as any needed medication, as it can take time for luggage to catch up with the group if it is delayed. Given the luggage needs to be transported by vehicle to the river and then by boat to catch up with the group, it can be quite a lengthy process.

Water included

Plastic bottles are a big issue in many countries where recycling isn’t yet widely available; they often end up in landfill or get burned. Both processes are harmful to the environment and we would like to reduce our impact here. For your trip, we provide an alternative to single-use plastic bottles to reduce the plastic used. This means that safe drinking water will be available throughout; all you need to do is bring a bottle to refill along the way. Please add this to your packing list.

Optional Equipment

  • Ear plugs if you are a light sleeper
  • We provide the sleeping bags, which come with clean liners and a small pillow. A 1in (2.5cm) Styrofoam mattress is also provided. Most people find these perfectly adequate; however, if you wish to bring your own sleeping bag, you are welcome

If you would like to help under-privileged Zambian school children, please consider packing some basic educational supplies that our partner Charity Baraka Community Partnerships ( will distribute to the schools and children they support. Second-hand items are fine, such as: notebooks, pens, pencils, colouring pens, paper, young children’s reading books, primary school textbooks, rulers, pencil sharpeners and flashcards. Also needed are footballs (soccer balls), tennis balls, netballs, young children’s clothes and shoes. Just leave them with your tour guide before you head down the river and Baraka will do the rest.

Practical Information



Visa requirements often change and it is your responsibility to obtain any required visas for this trip. Therefore, we recommend that you check with the nearest embassy or consulate of your chosen destination(s), including any countries you may be transiting or transferring through.

Some local governments provide guidance on what visas their citizens need. To help, we’ve gathered a selection of useful links below.

Vaccinations and Health


There are no required vaccinations. However, you may want to consider vaccinations for hepatitis A, polio, tetanus, typhoid, yellow fever, cholera, hepatitis B, rabies and tuberculosis. You will also need a yellow fever vaccination certificate if you’re arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission or transiting for more than 12 hours via a country with risk of yellow fever transmission. Malaria is also a known risk, please seek advice from your doctor or travel clinic on the best course of action for all the above.

Bilharzia is known to occur in some of the lakes or rivers visited on this itinerary, we therefore advise all to take advice from your guide or leader locally before venturing for a swim.

Local Time

Zambia's time zone: Africa/Lusaka (UTC +02:00)


Zambia's electricity: Plug types C (two round pins), D (three round pins) and G (three rectangular pins) – 230V, 50Hz

Zambezi Canoe Safari


Zambia's currency: Zambian kwacha (ZMW)

ATM Availability

You are strongly advised to change money into Zambian kwacha on arrival at Lusaka Airport, as this is one of the few opportunities  you have to obtain local currency. Exchange desks are readily available throughout Lusaka, where money can be easily exchanged but you may not have time to do this. ATMs are only available in Lusaka.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

There is not much opportunity for spending money on this trip but you may wish to allow approximately 60 kwacha (US$3) per day for drinks and incidentals.


Our local staff are paid well and fairly for their work. Our guides work hard and can be tipped if you feel they have done a good job. Tipping is not compulsory and should only be given if you feel you received exemplary service. Although entirely optional, we suggest you budget approximately 510 kwacha (US$30) in total to be broken down as follows:

  • 305 kwacha (US$15) for your senior river guide/tour leader
  • 100 kwacha (US$5) for the assistant guide
  • 100 kwacha (US$5) for the park ranger
  • 100 kwacha (US$5) for staff at the fly mainland camp sites and drivers

People, Places & Planet

We work hard to create trips that have a positive impact on the people and places we visit and look after the planet we explore. Learn more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice here and find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation here.

Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:


How this trip helps improve life for local communities.

  • Local guides keep you well informed about local traditions and cultural-social sensitivities.
  • This trip brings income and opportunity to the destination community through the inclusion of locally owned hotels, restaurants, and other enterprises, and by championing locally produced food wherever possible.
  • Read more about our other initiatives here.


How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.

  • By travelling in a small group, we ‘tread lightly’ to minimise our impact on local resources and the environment.
  • We work with our partners on the ground to proactively reduce waste; this includes eliminating all single-use plastic water bottles by providing refills for reusable bottles.
  • The payment of entrance fees to natural reserves and archaeological sites generates income, which is used to upkeep and develop these important sites.
  • Our trips adhere to ABTA’s industry-leading animal welfare guidelines to ensure the best possible practices regarding working animals and wildlife viewing. Our animal welfare policy can be found here.
  • Some departures of this trip provide the opportunity for you to collect water samples for the international eBioAtlas initiative, which collects vital DNA information to assist in essential conservation initiatives.
  • We rewild 1,075sqft (100sqm) per passenger to compensate for all trip and flight emissions.
  • Read about our commitment to nature protection and restoration here, including our rewilding commitment for every customer who travels with us and the eBioAtlas.


How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.

  • Accommodation and restaurants in the itinerary use locally sourced food which has not been transported long distances.
  • Read about our climate action here, including our carbon reduction and compensation commitments.

Tips for sustainable travel on this trip

  • Leave no trace: We do all we can to ensure we leave no rubbish in the wild and beautiful places we visit; we ask that you do the same. If there are no recycling facilities in-country, consider bringing recyclable materials home with you.
  • Plastic waste reduction: Please bring a reusable water bottle on this trip, also consider avoiding single-use hotel toiletries, which generate a large amount of plastic waste.

Important Information

Water safety

This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. You should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim. Open-water or wild swim spots should be treated with extreme caution. Information on how to keep yourself safe while swimming is shown here.

Important Information

Your safe participation 

When booking this trip, you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability, please call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary. 

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely take part in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity. 

By booking this trip you agree to our Booking Conditions which clearly state that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these rare instances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred. 

How to Book

  1. Check availability: Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.
  2. Secure your place: You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.
  3. Complete your booking and payment

When you’re ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque.

After booking

You will receive your booking confirmation letter and invoice, which includes extra information and guidance about your travel arrangements.

Full joining instructions, including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately two to three weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier, please contact our office or your travel agent.

Trip Note validity

These Trip Notes are valid from the “Current as” date on page one. They will occasionally be updated after booking and before departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary, customers will be written to separately. They will also receive a link to the most up-to-date Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions before travelling.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best-possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.


Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582, issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA – The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all money paid to us for your trip is fully protected.