Mana Canoe Trail


MANA CANOE TRAIL – 4 Day Trails Exploration

Canoeing safari complemented by fully serviced dome tent Adventurer camping along the fertile floodplains of the Zambezi River, Mana Pools National Park. 

One of the most exciting ways to experience Africa, this safari is perfect for adventurous travelers, allowing guests the closest possible encounters with wildlife on one of the greatest rivers in Africa. This thrilling experience traverses the Mana Pools National Park, through the heart of Mana Pools and along the Zambezi’s shoreline, canoeing past more than a thousand hippo on the way! Each night is spent camping on the banks of the Zambezi River, finishing 65km (40 miles) downstream and many adventures away from the start. Encounters with animals, whether on canoe or on foot, are up close and awe-inspiring. The Trail is for reasonably fit guests and is led by an experienced guide. Support vehicles and staff set up a fully catered & serviced camp each day prior to arrival.

This camping safari offers a unique adventure for the traveller seeking an iconic African safari and an opportunity to enjoy one of the wildest stretches of the lower Zambezi River and the game that depends on its life giving waters and ensures a back to nature experience.

By means of lively campfires, hurricane lanterns and a warm atmosphere permeating the camp (and its simplicity), Adventurer camping brings the guest closer to nature. Such camps are specifically outfitted to create that sense of wilderness with a clear emphasis on essential camp comforts and maximum wilderness experience.

The entire safari is guided and hosted by a professional and passionate river guide, who shares in-depth knowledge of the lower Zambezi ecosystem with the guests, to present a seamless, wellrounded experience. Years of experience in the field and a depth of understanding of animal behaviour and the environment will leave you with a sense of complete wonder. Our guides are also skilled photographers and can assist you in taking away amazing wildlife photographs. They are also available to lead private safaris and specialist trips.

Unique features of this Exploration:

  • One of the most exciting ways to safari in Africa, for guests with a sense of adventure.
  • Abundant up close wildlife viewing and spectacular birding.
  • An experienced, knowledgeable and passionate guide travels with the guests throughout.
  • Strong and stable Canadian canoes enhance experience and comfort.
  • A wonderful sense of being close to nature in the heart of Africa.
  • One of the best walking areas in Southern Africa, including awe-inspiring ‘on foot’ interactions with elephant.
  • Enjoy additional nights at Ruckomechi Camp before or after the safari.


Day 1:  Start of the Trail, close to Ruckomechi, Zambezi River

Guests are transferred to Ruckomechi by air from Victoria Falls or Harare, or road/boat transfer from Lusaka (at an additional cost), arriving at around midday. At approximately 14h00, after meeting the guide and going through a thorough safety briefing, canoeists start paddling downstream in sturdy Canadian canoes to our mobile camp in the Mana Pools National Park. The camp will have already been set up in advance and the first afternoon of paddling covers about 10 to 11 kilometers (6.2 – 6.8 miles). This is a relatively easy distance to cover in the time available (partly because we always paddle downstream) and gives canoeists a chance to familiarize themselves with the canoes and the various paddle strokes required.

Days 2 & 3:  Zambezi River wild camping

Canoeists are woken just before dawn each day with tea/coffee and biscuits and get onto the water just before sunrise. This is a magical time on the river as the water is usually calm and the peace and tranquility is amazing. After paddling for usually about 2 hours, we beach the canoes on the bank of the Zambezi River and set out for a game walk. The guide chooses a suitable area, based on his knowledge of the area and game movements and we take a few hours to explore on foot, and unravel some of the intricacies of the bush. After returning to the canoes, and a light snack, we continue canoeing to a suitable lunch spot, arriving around mid-day. Lunch is carried in the canoes and usually consists of a salad, bread and cold meats. We normally rest up in the shade for a while or take another short walk before moving on and arriving at the next camp at dusk. The camp and guest luggage is moved each day by the camp staff and all that is required to be done by participants is to enjoy a hot shower under the stars, and a cold drink, followed by dinner. The daily distances covered from one camp to the next are around 20 to 25 kilometers (12 to 16 miles) and the daily routine will vary according to wildlife movement.

Day 4:  Transfer to Chikwenya Airstrip, end of services

After breakfast by the river, guests will either be transferred by Land Rover or a walk to the nearby Chikwenya airstrip for the flight out (the flight is at an additional cost). We highly recommend that you drive back to Ruckomechi for an additional few nights, where guests can enjoy the wonderful Zambezi Valley by extensive game drive, adding significantly to the overall experience.

End of Safari


  • Accommodation on a sharing basis
  • All meals from lunch on day 1
  • A reasonable amount of soft drinks, beer, fruit juice, mineral water and house wine on camping days (excluding premium brands)
  • National Park fees
  • Activities as specified in the detailed itinerary


  • All flights
  • Visas
  • Compulsory comprehensive insurance
  • Laundry
  • All relevant entry and departure government taxes
  • All personal purchases (including curios, spirit liquors, etc.)
  • Gratuities
  • Optional extra activities, pre and post safari tours and meals or accommodation before or after the safari
  • Any new Government taxes, levies, fuel or industry increases which are beyond our control


  • Each departure is guaranteed with a minimum of 2 confirmed guests and operates with a maximum of 8 guests per safari. 
  • Should all other bookings on an Exploration cancel, reducing the group to one guest, we will convert the booking to an FIT package, in all likelihood at an increased price.
  • We encourage a night’s stay at Ruckomechi prior to and at the end of the trip to enhance the experience and help assist with flight connections.
  • Guests need to arrive at Ruckomechi no later than 12h00 on the day of departure. The safari ends at Chikwenya airstrip after breakfast at 08h00 on the last morning – no canoeing on the last day. Please ensure relevant flights connect.
  • Please note that connecting arrival and departure charters for this safari are at an additional cost.
  • Operations reserves the right, due to situations beyond our control, to substitute a lodge or location with another of comparable quality at no additional cost.
  • Age limits – Children from the age of 16 are welcome on all scheduled departures.
  • The Mana Canoe Trail departs every Monday and Thursday operating between 02 May 2011 to 17 November 2011.

Important additional safari notes:

  • Private safari options: Tailored Explorations are available on flexible dates, accommodation and itineraries, for groups of up to eight guests. These are also ideal for families or for small groups from four guests.
  • Camp description: Explorations remote campsites on this itinerary provide 3 x 3m (9.84 ft x 9.84ft) dome tents, designed for comfort in remote wilderness areas. Cotton linen and bedrolls (with duvets) with a lantern complement the atmosphere in this pristine and wild area. Separate short-drop toilet and shower ‘bathrooms’ with old-style bucket showers create simple serviced comfort.
  • Exclusive experience: Each campsite within the Mana Pools National Park is reserved for the exclusive use of our guests and while on the river or on foot on its banks we enjoy the wild expanse mostly to ourselves. An over-night at Ruckomechi camp either before or after the three night canoe trail we will most likely meet other independent travellers.
  • Local air connection onto the safari: If arrival is planned for the day of the safari’s departure, please ensure that arrival is around noon and no later than 13h00. The air transfers into and out of Mana Pools are quoted separately to the canoe trail. Private air charters: Guests can charter from Kariba, Harare etc to Ruckomechi airstrip from where they will be transferred to the river for the start of the Trail.
  • International air connections leaving the safari: Please ensure that if you have an early departure flight that your scheduled light aircraft transfer is booked to depart from Chikwenya airstrip.
  • Flashlights/ torches: Please ensure that a minimum 2-D cell flashlight is brought on safari, with spare batteries. Head lamps are also useful. Explorations does not supply flashlights.
  • Camera battery charging facilities: Unfortunately no charging facilities are available on the canoe safari, due to the remoteness of the area.
  • Dietary requirements and special occasions: Due to remote locality of Explorations camps, please ensure that full dietary requirements and special occasions are advised at the time of your booking confirmation.

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