The Zambezi Valley

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4.8 / 5 from 36 reviews >
Moderate
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Trip code: 
WZC
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Safaris
Min age:
16
Group size:
4–12

A superb canoe and walking safari in the Zambezi Valley

An exciting trip perfect for those wishing to encounter the spectacular wildlife and incredible scenery of Zambia in as intimate and active a way as possible. The mighty Zambezi is an excellent location for a canoe safari. Camping out on secluded beaches, the days are spent relishing magnificent scenery and abundant game, while passing the ever-present basking crocodiles and hippo pods. Away from the water there is also plenty of time for game walks and drives to experience the diverse wildlife and remarkable scenery this region has to offer.

Highlights

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

Key information

  • 5 nights semi-participatory camping with either limited or no facilities, 2 nights camping in tented camp with shared facilities
  • Travel by open canoes on the Zambezi River
  • No previous experience necessary

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 7 lunches and 7 dinners
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for tailormade trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Lusaka; transfer to the Zambezi River.

    After the arrival of the group flight in the early afternoon, we transfer to the Zambezi River. Most of this road transfer to the start of the safari is on tar road with the last section of the journey being along a bush dirt track making a change to a 4WD vehicle is necessary. Depending on the time we arrive at the Zambezi River we will cross over to our evening campsite on Nyamumba island by canoe or motor boat . Dinner is prepared by the guide.

    Accommodation: Wild Camping
    Semi-participatory Camping

    Meals included: Lunch Dinner
  • Days 2-4

    Three days 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 at its weakest. The pace is gentle to allow us to make the most of wildlife viewing opportunities. We look out for elephant 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 buffalo, baboon, Vervet monkey, Pied kingfisher, Goliath heron, Carmine Bee eaters and maybe even lion! We will frequently pass pods of hippo basking in the deeper water who will no doubt be keeping 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 banks of the river.

    Accommodation: Wild Camping
    Semi-participatory Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    Morning canoeing; afternoon game walk and drive in Game Management Area.

    We canoe to the Chiawa Game Management Area, which is situated 18 kms from the Lower Zambezi National Park just opposite the Mana Pools, where we spend the night in our fly camp based on mainland. This is an area rich in wildlife and is renowned for the numerous elephant sightings. It is also home to warthog, waterbuck, impala, kudu, and rare Samango monkeys, with many riverene 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 genet, civet, hyena, porcupine, aardvark and if really lucky, the elusive leopard.

    Accommodation: Fly Camp in Game Management Area
    Comfortable Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    Canoe to Lower Zambezi N.P.; 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 8km downstream). We have a morning game walk with a guide, and then have lunch in the park under the shade of the trees or on the banks of the Zambezi River. After lunch we will be taken on a game drive through the park back to our fly camp on the banks of the river in Game Management Area. If river water levels are too high in the winter months (May – July), due to excess water being released from Lake Kariba, we may use a boat transfer as certain road crossing may be flooded.

    Accommodation: Fly Camp in Game Management Area
    Comfortable Camping

    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 today. Should river conditions necessitate we may use a boat transfer back to Zambezi Breezes where required.

    Accommodation: Zambezi Breezes or similar
    Semi-participatory Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    Transfer to Lusaka; end.

    An early start today; after breakfast we transfer approximately 4-5 hrs to Lusaka where our tour ends in the late morning. Those on the group flights will be transferred to the airport for the flight to London.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Zambia

British, European, N. American, Australian and New Zealand passport holders require a visa to enter Zambia. Single entry visas are available at all ports of entry. The visa fee for British nationals is currently USD50 for a single entry visa.

Vaccinations

Zambia

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. Malaria prophylaxis is essential and we suggest that you seek advice from your GP or travel health clinic about which malaria tablets to take.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 7 lunches and 7 dinners 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 (e.g. vegetarian or allergies) when booking. We will 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 will be at your own expense and can be purchased at the supermarket in Lusaka prior to travelling to the river.

Weather

With its 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 day time highs around 25ºC, however nights can be cool (down to 10ºC). From June to August it can be exceptionally cold. September and October are the hottest months where daytime highs are regularly 35º+ and temperatures at night can be in the low to mid 20s. Rainfall is generally confined between the months of November and April. Rains normally occur as heavy showers, but they tend to clear rapidly with sunshine still predominant.

Lusaka, Zambia

Is this trip for you?

This is generally a comfortable participatory safari but, as it goes through some wild country, you should come prepared to be flexible and expect delays or inconvenience.
Travel is by Canadian-style 18ft. two-person canoes and open backed safari vehicle. No previous experience is necessary but you should have a reasonable level of fitness on what is an active trip. An ability to swim is recommended.

Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for tailormade trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Camping

On this tour we spend 5 nights camping in two-man dome tents and 2 nights in a set up bush camp with showers, toilets and large tents.

The camping is semi-participatory as participants are asked to assist with camp chores and you will have to erect and dismantle your own tents whilst on the canoeing safari. Most nights are spent wild camping with no facilities provided. All camping equipment is provided.

Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for tailormade trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed September 2017
    Chrissie Coyle

    Zambezi Valley - Awesome

    This really was roughing it for 4 days and nights wild camping and canoeing, 2 days in a fly camp with comfortable beds and showers/toilets and 1 night at Zambezi Breezers with a Bar! An awesome trip with great people and a fantastic guide and assistant guide.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Watching and experiencing wildlife as it should be. Hippos, elephants, antelope and deer, warthogs, a variety of exotic birds, just amazing. Being outdoors and on the river, experiencing sunrise and sunsets which photos just can't do justice. Waking up and looking out of your tents to see wildlife wandering nearby. Drifting along with the river, soaking up the sun, breeze, atmosphere, scenery was simply bliss.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    CB (Cuthbert) was truly amazing, he worked like a trojan, was knowledgeable, looked after us all extremely well, kept 12 novice canoeists safe and all with a brilliant sense of humour. His assistant Best, whilst quietly spoken, worked extremely hard and with CB made sure we were very well looked after.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    There isn't much time to re-arrange bags and it could be dark when you arrive so pack enough for 4 days in one bag and pack light, you don't need loads of stuff. Be prepared for long transfers.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We canoed for 4 to 5 hours a day for 4 days and met a lot of headwinds and so it was really tough but definitely worth it.
  • Reviewed November 2016
    Daniel Otto

    The Zambezi Valley

    Great adventure with loads of hippos (did not expect to see that many), elephants, birds and many others. Canoeing was more a bit harder in some areas than what some of us expected for a leisurely/moderate trip. I would say the trip is at least moderate.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Whilst we had lunch on the 3rd part an elephant herd passed us by, including a what we were told a 1 year old baby elephant. Furthermore, seeing most the animals in harmony with each other made us wonder sometimes why humanity cannot do this.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both leader were great and brought a lot of fun to the trip. They were very easy on changing the plans (for example to go swimming) to suit what we would like to do, which was great. Organisational wise (only real downside), I would have hoped for us getting told at the airport to prepare our bags. Packing bags in the darkness, which we had to do and not knowing what we expect in the camps would have been beneficial. I packed far too much of the wrong things, because I didn't know what to pack in the darkness.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack you bags (for the canoe trip) at the airport when you arrive!!! It is the last time you have light. Bigger bag for clothes and things, small bag for thing you need to walk around when you stop (majorly water) - possibly large water bottle is actually enough + dry sack with camera. Water is available the minute you arrive on the campsite, so no need to buy loads of water like on other trips. Money: You actually only need money for tipping and on the first/last day, otherwise there is no possibility to use your money.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Fantastic trip, really enjoyed it :-)
  • Reviewed October 2016
    John Young

    Exhilirating -- and a little bit exhausting!

    This is the one for you if you're happy to rough it, leave the comfort zone, sleep in tents for seven nights on the trot, go without much booze, but gulp down the thrill of knowing you're transported yourself along a gentle giant of a river and gazed at game from a breathtakingly short distance.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Waking at dawn to see the sun rise over the Zambezi, knowing the day held in store a manageable physical challenge, a sense of manageable danger, and every chance of watching elephant, hippo and crocs at very close quarters.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Cuthbert was exceptional. Tireless. Talented. Wise. A great cook, manager of people, reader of moods. And above all, he knew where the boundaries lay between safety and danger.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be ready to rough it -- seven nights under canvass are indeed seven nights under canvass, and four of them really are without any washing or toilet facilities at all -- though the Zambezi itself makes a wonderful alternative to a shower. And if you feel a beer or glass of wine over dinner is fair reward for five or so hours on a canoe -- insist that your driver stops so you can stock up before you rich the river on day one. Otherwise this becomes a six day detox you may not have bargained for.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Stock up in your luggage with as many things as you can for the school you visit on day six. It needn't be expensive -- raid the Pound Shop for pens, pencils, calculators, crayons -- we regretted not bringing more when we saw the reality of how little the children have.
  • Reviewed October 2016
    Yvette Fernley

    The Zambezi River

    An excellent trip, one of the best holidays we've had

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Prepare to leave your comfort zone and enter the world of the Zambezi with its currents and wind taking you so close to its wildlife that you feel that you've entered their world. Relaxing and tranquil but with plenty of excitement and wonder: hippos swimming under the canoes, crocs slipping off the bank into the water as we passed by, an elephant mother and youngster feeding only feet away from us. Not to mention frequent stops for cooling swims in the very clean water. And the Zambezi is big, and wide, banks with only sparse evidence of human habitation and desert islands for our overnight stops, add to a complete sense of wilderness. All in all an unparalleled experience. Although to be fair, if its big cats or the herds of the plains you want to see, or if you crave the luxury of the game lodge. this may not be the trip for you.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Of our guide, CB, Cuthbert, what a guy! Expert on game, great cook, kept us safe, exemplary leadership skills, and massive fun. Not for one moment did he stop trying to give us the experience of a lifetime. All at a comfortable pace. African time. Pole pole. Coupled with an excellent guide, we had an awesome group which provided endless fun and memories to cherish.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Buy plenty of beer or wine at the shop outside Lusaka. We made a mistake and didn't provide enough to accompany the simple but excellent food prepared by the guides. Early October was hot with strong sun, so be prepared. Not bad on the mozzy front and the tents are insect-proof, but of course Deet is essential. Those with plenty of painkillers for injuries and sore muscles proved popular! Changes of clothing seem to become less and less important as you go, so save on packing and chill!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Do take as much as you can for the school orphanage. We all have so much and they have so little and they need and deserve all the help they can get.
  • Reviewed September 2016
    Joanna Graham

    The Zambezi Valley

    Have just returned from this amazing trip- my first visit to Africa and it was better than I hoped for. Loved looking up at the night sky through the tent mosquito netting. So many hippos, crocs and elephants. Although it was hot there was always a lovely breeze on the water

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Sitting in our jeep on safari watching a male and female lion resting in the heat of the day or because they were full up from eating part of the nearby buffalo carcass. The female started teasing the male who then mounted her !! Then a little later several elephants turned up , trumpeting, ears flapping, dust everywhere and the lions ran off .

    What did you think of your group leader?

    CB was great. Wicked sense of humour. He and Best (the other guide) cooked us tasty meals and really looked after us.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take walking sandals as they dry well after getting wet every time you get in and out of the canoe. Binoculars are very useful. Line your day rucksack with a waterproof liner as the water was quite choppy on occasions which led to water lying in the base of the canoe. Our sleeping mats also functioned as cushions in the canoe so perfectly comfortable

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The canoeing was fine when the water was calm but tough going when water rough . Be prepared to paddle from about 8am to 5pm with a mid morning break and a long lunch break. Remember a head torch. You probably only need one 1 litre water bottle as we were able to top up our bottles at lunchtime. Cycling gloves saved me from blistered hands . Maybe do some homework before going to get some tips on how to paddle a canoe
  • Reviewed September 2016
    Andy&angela Lewis&balding

    Lower zambesi

    Did this last October, best value safari ever, and I've done a few. Excellent guide in TK, knows his way round those hippo pods. The boy Benjamin was fun too, and if I do this again I will ask for these two. Plenty game as the rains were due the following week so the beasts had to come to the river. Group size was perfect, 6 punters& 2 guides. Do it!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Having to repel an Elephant raid on the camp at night. I think someone had forgotten their instructions and left out some smelly orange peel.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very knowledgeable. Kept us safe without feeling bossed about. Plenty good fireside tales, fine bush cook, all round decent guy.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Buy a couple of crates of beer at the supermarket when you stop outside Lusaka. It's dirt cheap. And anything else you might need because it's the last shop you visit for a few days.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Take a hat. And those adventure shoes/ sandals things. And minimum luggage, if I wore the same clothes every day it wouldn't matter. Everything you take you have to fit in your canoe.
  • Reviewed September 2016
    Elaine Newton

    Frisky lions!!!

    Awesome trip - simply has to be done!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Highlight for me has to be seeing some very 'frisky' lions who were resting with full tummies after a kill, and then out of the blue they were suddenly chased away by 4-5 charging trumpeting elephants, including an 'ikkle baby one!!! Like being on a live set of a nature program!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Cuthbert (aka CB) and his sidekick Best were simply the best!!! Attentive at all times, very helpful, very polite and always there with a smile. Joined in with the group, ready for a laugh but were serious and very professional when circumstances demanded it.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You will be separated from your main luggage for the first 3 days so pack everything you'll need for those 3 days separately and before getting there as you will arrive in the dark. Use a bag you don't mind getting dirty and thrown about. I took a separate 40L backpack for this purpose. Also take a small dry bag to keep close to hand while canoeing for things like suncream, camera bits and bobs as your '3 day' bag will be tied up and not easily accessible while you are canoeing.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Relax! Go with flow! Enjoy! It is over too quickly!
  • Reviewed July 2016
    Andy Stroud

    What an adventure

    This trip was awesome. Canoeing, walking and wild camping. Surrounded by all the wild life and beautiful scenery. You get so close to the animals so you will get some great photos and memory's that will last a lifetime. As you are working as a team with the group and the two guides you will quickly become good friends with everyone.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting so close to wild elephants. They are so powerful but pretty gentle. Also going to the school was great. These kids don't have much but are all so happy

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader (TK) was brilliant. Very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The canoeing isn't to hard but can be a bit of a challenge if it gets windy. The wild camping is great but be prepared, it is wild camping so its basic. You get a tent and food cooked on a camp fire. Also get up a little early and sit my the fire and watch the sunrise and listen to the wildlife, such a relaxing experience.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    You should defiantly do this trip, you'll love it.
  • Reviewed June 2016
    Angela Horner

    Rowing the Lower Zambezi 10.06.16

    We canoed down the Lower Zambezi river a party of 8 with two guides Cuthbert & Ahmed - what a fantastic experience watching Hippos, crocodiles, elephants, buffalo, to name but a few of the animals we were able to see. Both Cuthbert & Ahmed had so much knowledge and experience and could answer all our questions about the animals and the area and knew how to keep us safe.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There are too many to single one out - the scenery, the animals, the sunsets !

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was excellent and was extremely knowledgeable regarding the area and the animals and also our safety - he made our trip even more enjoyable with his hard work, information and humor.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just do it ! - Take a travel pillow with you. The rowing can be pretty easy or it can be quite tough depending on how strong the head wind is so I think you need a reasonable level of fitness & upper body strength.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Again what a fantastic holiday & thank you to both Cuthbert & Ahmed for all your hard work & information & humor.
  • Reviewed June 2016
    Elizabeth Jones

    An amazing adventure on the Zambezi

    This trip far exceeded my expectations in every way. The wildlife encounters were amazing, hippos everywhere, crocs, birds, impala, kudus, waterbuck, buffalo etc etc. On the second day I was beginning to worry that I would not see an elephant, then they were everywhere and being on the water allowed us to see them from a different perspective as well as on foot, at the campsite and on 4 wheels.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were so many - falling asleep to the sounds of Africa and hippos 'laughing' - Rafting all the canoes together to cross the river with a group of elephants - Arriving at the fly site to be welcomed by countless elephants of all sizes having a drink ( far too many to fit in a photo) - Getting a new found respect for termites and learning about the little things that are easy to miss on the game walks - Watching the sun rise and set over the water - Waking to the sound of lions roaring at 5am even if we didn't see them

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Cuthbert (CB) was brilliant his knowledge of everything was second to none, he had a great sense of humour and spent time getting to know everyone. He and Ahmed looked after us so well and whilst we set up the tents would have a fire lit and dinner cooking, they always seemed to overestimate how much food we needed, there was no chance of ever going hungry. Our safety was always priority and as well as pointing out the wildlife they were always ensuring we were all ok and quickly getting us out the way when hippo encounters became a bit too close for comfort.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is a brilliant trip and I would recommend it without reservation, a few tips: - pack what you need for the first few days ready to grab as we arrived rather late at the river on the first day and sorting out luggage by torchlight can be a bit of a challenge before canoeing across the river in the dark. - I was a little apprehensive about the no toilets/ washing facilities during wild camping, it was not a problem at all and baby wipes became our version of a shower. - It does get cold at night so make sure you have enough warm clothes to sleep in - The wind can get up and was never in our favour which, particularly on the first day made it hard going

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Call us on 1 844 227 9087