This is an activity which we love and which increasingly we get asked about and are doing. The Zambezi is the most known canoeing river in Zambia and rightly famous for multi day canoe trails (and short ones of course) and indeed the canoe safari is quite a unique Zambian/Zimbabwean activity that has been known and done by safari cognoscenti over many years now. The Kafue is a much lesser known river and to be honest most of the river is not what I would call a dream destination for canoeists. Much of it is long, slow open water and the extremely dense riverine forest vegetation does mean that animal sightings are generally not as good as the Zambezi. However certain sections of the river really lend themselves to a very unique canoeing experience. In certain sections of the river the fragmented channels and rocky areas totally lend themselves to being explored by canoe. Fortunately we are on one such section and indeed arguably the best section!
For us canoeing is a re-connection activity. Similar to walking in that there is no propulsion noise or smells, you are conveying yourself and you are part of the landscape. You are no longer a spectator, you are now participating. That is one side of it, another side is the tranquility. Gliding inches above submerged boulders and skimming alongside grassy bankings with nothing but birdcalls and the tinkling of water and the swishing of your paddle.
There are channels and routes here that can only be navigated by canoe and this also allows you to feel that you are charting territory that few people (and certainly only a handful of tourists) have ever seen. Another hugely attractive thing about canoeing is that the pace and type can be completely varied. If a guest wants to go south through rapids and channels and get that ‘lost’ feeling in the wilds with a side serving of adrenaline then no problem: we can do that.
On the other hand if they want to just leave the lodge mid-afternoon and lazily drift down from Mweengwa even with a beer in hand as the sun goes down then, again, no problem. We can do that.
Increasingly we are now doing overnight trips where the guests and guides sleep over on an island, either under the stars or in a dome tent, again the choice is yours. Of course (apart from the paddling) the guests don’t have to do any heavy lifting, and even then to be honest if you are in the front of the canoe with say Kaley behind you then you are not exactly having to really work! We go with a boat and set up tents, beds, mosquito nets, directors chairs and deliver the evening meal and a box of booze and the guests evening attire! Its amazingly civilised but wild at the same time.
In short our canoeing is Kaingu in a nutshell – no set departures, no set rules and almost infinitely flexible – a proper safari and not mass market and the norms that entail with big numbers and big business formulaic lodges. We leave you there with a taste of our canoe trails with some images and at the bottom a short video we put together: