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Victoria Falls by the Zambezi team

...launching point for extraordinary safaris into Southern Africa

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Fast Facts

  • No experience needed
  • Tame one-day trails
  • Wild multi-day safaris
  • Mana Pools canoeing on lower Zambezi River

Upper Zambezi Canoeing

Enjoy the gentle-paced canoe trails on the upper Zambezi or take a ride on the wild side with an adventurous canoe safari through Mana Pools

Experience the tranquillity of the upper Zambezi River above Victoria Falls on any of the half- or full-day canoe trails. The pace is gentle and allows time to take in the quiet and calm of the surroundings. There's a good chance to spot wildlife on the riverbanks. At least 50 common species of bird can be seen even in the quiet months.

The short trails run along a 15 to 18 km stretch between the Zambezi National Park in Zimbabwe and the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia.  There's no heavy paddling involved as the current gently assists the steady drift downstream through channels and alongside heavily wooded islands. The rapids are small and at their peak are only classed as grade two, one step up from calm and flat water.

Multi-day trails are available if you're keen on adventure. These overnight canoe trails include camping on one of the islands or within the Zambezi National Park.  Spending the night beneath the African stars is an experience you'll never forget!

Pick up on "all the facts" for both the short trails and the multi-day camping options. Explore a bit further for the wilder canoe safaris on the lower Zambezi....

Half and full day canoe trails run on both sides of the upper Zambezi River above Victoria Falls. Multi-day trails are available if you're keen on adventure.


Full- and half-day canoe trails

Clients are collected from any hotel in Victoria Falls or Livingstone between 7am and 7:30am. Tea, coffee and bacon & egg rolls are served at check-in, followed by a safety talk by a professional river guide before the day's canoeing. The morning is spent running rapids and exploring the channels.  The half-day trail ends before lunch and clients are dropped off by 2:30pm.  For the full-day trail, lunch is served on an island or on the banks of the Zambezi River. The trip ends with a drive through the National Park with refreshments. Clients are dropped off in Victoria Falls or Livingstone at about 4:30pm.

Multi-day canoe trails

Overnight, 2 day/1 night or 2 day/2 night safaris are on offer during the main season between July and October.  They must be booked in advance.

Physical features of the River 

The Upper Zambezi River is regarded as free-flow and water levels are subject to seasonal variation. Floods begin in December and normally peak in April/May. Throughout the season the route varies as new channels open with the rise in water levels. The Upper Zambezi has numerous heavily wooded islands, which are dissected by channels that may be several kilometres in length and vary in width from one to twenty metres. 

The vegetation predominately consists of ebonies, waterberries, palms and a tremendous variety of acacia and albizia. The rapids are small and at their peak are only classed as grade two. 

Wildlife on the upper Zambezi River 

The canoe trail passes between the Zambezi National Park in Zimbabwe and the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia.  There's a good opportunities to see wildlife and at least 50 common species of bird can be seen even in the quiet months.  The best birding opportunities occur during our summer months from the end of September to early April. 

Canoeing gear supplied 

In addition to 19ft Canadian-standard canoes, 16ft inflatable rafts and "crocodile canoes" are used. America's Cup High flotation life jackets are supplied and must be worn on the water. 

Experience and fitness 

No previous experience is required and canoeists needn't be proficient swimmers. 

Group bookings 

We can accommodate a maximum of 24 guests. Larger groups are possible on request using canoes and inflatable rafts. 

Age restrictions for canoeing 

The minimum age for canoe trips using crocodiles is 15 years (depending on the size of the child). The minimum age for raft floats (using 16ft inflatable rafts) is 6 years.  There is no maximum age.             

What to wear

Appropriate dress is shorts, T-shirts, shoes and sunscreen and a wide brimmed hat. Dry bags are provided for cameras and valuables. 

Guides and safety on the Zambezi 

Guides are fully-trained professionals and all hold valid first aid certificates. Whilst every precaution is taken, all clients should be aware that an indemnity form must be signed before participating on any of the canoe trails. A comprehensive first aid kit is carried on each trip. The trip leader is in radio contact with operating bases in Victoria Falls, Livingstone and M.A.R.S. (Medical Air Rescue Service) in the unlikely event of a mishap.

Enquiries and bookings

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Packages that include canoeing

Zambezi white water rafting

Adventure Pass

Take a cruise plus two other activities: whitewater, canoeing, elephant trail, lion encounter or helicopter flip.

Imbabala Lodge

Zambezi Weekender

This 3-night break for a unique wildlife experience and a feel of the Falls includes transfers, tour of Victoria Falls plus a Chobe day-trip

Zambezi rafting

Super deals

Simply pre-book selected activities or a safari to claim a free sunset cruise or qualify for a free helicopter flip over Vic Falls

The real deal...canoe safaris!