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Epic Zambezi Trek and Paddle

Zimbabwe and Zambia
Jul 30 2009 Written by: Brad Horn

I have spent the past month guiding back to back safaris in Africa; one a walking and canoeing safari on the mighty Zambezi River and the second a climb of Kilimanjaro.

I rate this as one of my very best safaris ever; a truly incredible experience. It had everything; adventure, adrenalin, amazing game and a huge range of activities and challenges. We specifically hand crafted this trip (which incidentally is an “Epic” exclusive product) to deliver the ultimate African adventure experience. All of the clients who took part in this trip rate it as THE best safari they’ve been on.

In brief, we began with two nights in Hwange National Park. The aim was to acclimatise and shakedown for the walk component of the trip as well as indulge in some traditional safari viewing. We were rewarded with some great game sightings including cheetah, elephant, buffalo and a baboon show that had us in stitches one chilly morning. From Hwange we flew through to Chikwenya on the eastern side of the legendary Mana Pools National Park to commence our walk. Ask any African guide worth his salt and they will agree that there are few places in Africa that come close to Mana. It offers one of the most spectacular walking environments; a wide alluvial floodplain wooded with beautiful winterthorn (albida) trees, bordering the mighty Zambezi which is upward of a kilometre wide in parts. On the opposite side of the river is a range of mountains which form a breathtaking backdrop. It was through this amazing setting that we had the privilege to walk and canoe for six magical days.

The walk involved a traverse of 70 kilometres or so from the eastern to the western edges of the park. We were supported all the way by our own dedicated camp and crew, complete with the trimmings of comfy beds, warm bucket showers, a full bar and big Bob, Zimbabwe’s own Masterchef! The camp was a wonderful retreat after the rigours of the day. Our campsites were located in stunning wilderness areas inaccessible to other operators. Each day we covered between 15 and 20 kilometres. We spent three nights on the trail before spending our fourth night basking in the extraordinary luxury of the new Ruckomechi tented camp. The camp’s new location is incredible, as per the below picture. After our night of pampering at Ruckomechi we then took on the river and spent two days canoeing back down to the Chikwenya side of the park.

The river is a truly unique experience and environment. Our game encounters were many and varied. The highlights included bagging some great tiger fish and bream, numerous elephant and hippo encounters, one of which was very much up close and special (see below)! This experience will stay with us for the rest of our lives. Probably the highlight for us was the sighting of a pangolin on day 2. For those that don’t know this is considered the “holy grail” of African game-viewing. Guides can go through their whole life without seeing one of these. The pangolin is an “armoured” animal that nocturnally feeds on ants. Think something like an armadillo I guess in appearance. It is the rarest of the rare. Speaking of rare experiences we also encountered wild dogs and had the privilege of watching them hunt impala.

We plan to offer 4 departures next year; one in June, two in July and one in September. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you are interested in coming with us.