Here is a review on an overnight Canoe/Camping trip that we recently went on in Zambia. It was arranged through Thomson Adventures, and booked in the UK via Virgin Holidays.
Before I write anything else, I just want to say....if you get a chance to do it, then DO IT!!!
I believe if I had all the info about the trip before-hand, I might have backed down, but so glad we didn't.
We were the only guests on the trip, which just added to the nerves/apprehension.
We were taken by mini-bus from the Zambezi Sun hotel (Livingstone/Victoria Falls) to the river, around a 1hr drive. Here you get to see real African Villages and wildlife off the normal tourist routes.
We had a short safety talk on the banks of the Zambezi, and then off we went.
We travelled in a two man inflatable canoe and our two Zambian guides; Dominic & Kennedy travelled in single canoes along with the luggage & food.
Within the first 10 mins we came to the 1st Rapids. A double-rapid which was a 2.5 strength. Not huge, but quite exhilarating, and quite an awakener. This is the biggest rapid we faced.
The trip is down-stream, so when the river narrows it’s quite a relaxed paddle, but it can get a little tougher going when the river widens. We were certainly ready for a Lunch stop.
Lunch was in Zimbabwe, which was quite a surprise, as we did not think we would actually get into another country. It was on an Island which quite simply could be a scene from the Maldives. Pure White Sands, clear water & Hot Sun… quite surreal!
Food was served and eaten from an upturned canoe used as a table.
Back in the canoes, to navigate around hundreds of Hippos, a few Crocs and level 1&2 rapids. Dominic & Kennedy had our safety in mind the whole time, always watching for the Hippos, and taking detours if he felt the hippos were getting too close!
Virgin told us it would be a 12Km paddle. It’s a 32km paddle to the island where we camp! If I had known this before-hand, we would not have gone… but please, please do not let this put you off. Its fairly tiring but very do-able in a day!
The two lads cooked dinner for us on a camp-fire, and served wine & beer. Then it was off to get the most dramatic / Romantic sunset you could ever dream of. Dominic took some superb photos of us together beneath the setting sun, that was such a wonderful reminder of our 25th Wedding night...
The island is simply that… An island with a couple of small tents, a camp-fire and a jungle toilet & Shower (bucket with holes in the bottom hanging from a tree!). Very basic, but what the hell, that’s what we expected. You are soon back in the luxury of the Zambezi Sun Hotel a few hours later for a shower!
We slept well. Yes we did wake to sounds every so often, but soon fell asleep again (something to do with 32km and a few beers, perhaps!)
Next morning; steaming Tea, Coffee and a cooked breakfast was served before the motor-launch comes to take you back to the mainland., and the mini-bus back to the hotel and a hot shower.
This was just a truly amazing experience. If you have Dominic & Kennedy say hi, and make sure you pack a good fistful of US Dollars for them both.
Just do it, you will not regret it….