Professional Safari Guide
All Natureways Safaris guides have passed the rigorous examination set by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management and hold either a valid Canoe or Professional Guides’ License. All guides carry a licensed weapon on the River. They have all studied and passed a MARS (Medical Air Rescue Services) first aid course and take a refresher course annually. If any problems should occur during the Safari there are various contact points along the River, these will be covered in safety briefings conducted before and during the Safari. Each guide also carries an ‘Emergency Safety Manual’ with a map and comprehensive instructions of what to do if a situation arises.
Odyssey Safaris have the benefit of a Professional Guide who is able to conduct canoeing safaris as well as walking safaris. Explorer Safaris are lead by a fully qualified Canoe Guide who is usually accompanied by a Learner guide. A learner guide must have at least 1000 hours of canoeing experience just to be able to site the Canoe Guides exam!
About the Safari
Mana Pools Shoreline – Departs Mon/Tues/Fri/Sat April to November
After being collected by the guide, guests are driven 30km - a leisurely game drive through the spectacular Mana Pools floodplain - to the first night’s campsite. The area has one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Zimbabwe and the drive is usually very rewarding - enabling your guide to give an overview of the various animals, birds and plants that make up this unique habitat. Vehicles are open Toyota Land Cruisers with good all-round visibility.
On arrival at “Vundu”, the first camp, met by the welcome smiles of our support staff, lunch will be served. Usually consisting of cold meats, a variety of salads and freshly baked breads. After a refreshing lunch break you will take a short drive to the canoe launch-spot near the confluence of the Ruckomechi and Zambezi Rivers. Here, the guide will give a full safety briefing, pointing out where all equipment - such as the first aid kit - is kept, as well as explaining what to do in an emergency. The briefing also covers the basic techniques of steering and controlling the Canadian-style 5.5m (18 ft) canoes. The group then departs downstream, by canoe, returning to Vundu camp. This first afternoon of paddling is taken at a slow pace, allowing you time to become acquainted with the canoes and methods of steering. You should now begin to see some of the multitude of animals and birds attracted to the water’s edge. Hippo, buffalo, elephant and crocodile, as well as a variety of antelope species, may be seen. Arrival at camp is around sunset. The camp will be fully prepared and you will be able to sit back and relax with sundowners and snacks – tea and coffee and hot showers are also available. A campfire is already burning and this is invariably where guests will gather to discuss the day’s events and plan for the morning. In the background your support staff and resident bush cook are busy preparing a three-course dinner for you.
An early wake-up - as dawn breaks. Hot water for freshening up will be placed in raised basins outside each tent, while tea, freshly brewed coffee, muffins or home-made biscuits are already waiting by the campfire. While you pack up your personal kit, the support staff load the canoes with all required for the day ahead. Guests need only worry about a small daypack carrying essentials such as sun block, camera, spare film, hat and binoculars. The aim is to be in the canoes and on the water in time to watch the sunrise. As one of the most magical times of day, you will be enchanted as you drift along quietly, listening to the sounds of the African wild wakening to a new day.
Following paddling for couple of hours, breakfast takes place under a grove of acacia trees. After breakfast, guests have the opportunity to set off on a walk on the floodplain and surrounding woodlands. This is a great time to try and view predators before they hide-up for the day. You may even be lucky enough to spot one or more of the diurnal animals making their way down to the river. This walk offers an opportunity, not only for game viewing, but also to explore some of the more interesting aspects of the environment. Guests will spot a variety of animal spoor, and may even find themselves engrossed in tracking down a particular species. The guide will share fascinating facts about strange insects and spiders as well as a wealth of knowledge about this miniature world that forms such an integral part of the bush. Sounds of many brightly coloured birds can be heard while marvelling at the beauty and tranquillity of this unique area.
Returning to the canoes guests head downstream to an area renowned for its huge, old elephant bulls. The guide tries to time the trip to catch them swimming or wading out to the grass islands, where the canoes will be able to glide quietly alongside these awesome giants. Their age makes them placid enough that they tend to ignore the canoes.
Lunch break coincides with the heat of the day. The canoes are pulled up below a grove of mahogany trees whose dense shade provides a welcome relief. The meal generally consists of cold meats, freshly prepared salads, pizza or quiche and cheese and biscuits. After eating and drinking their ice-cold drinks, guests have a choice to either take another short walk through the mahogany forest or to just relax and enjoy an afternoon siesta. The late afternoon and evening is spent drifting down to camp and enjoying the game and birding along the river’s edge. Our welcoming support staff are waitng at camp which is reached by sunset. This night’s camp, Chessa, overlooks a small channel, with a large grass plain separating it from the main Zambezi, 500 metres away. Frequently the plain hosts buffalo, waterbuck, elephant and hippo in the evenings.
This follows the same basic itinerary as day two, with a predawn wake up and sunrise whilst drifting down the Zambezi. However, this is the day that guests will enter the “Wilderness Area” of Mana Pools National Park where there is limited access to people and vehicles. In fact, the only road is 3 to 5 kilometres in-land – the same one our support team will use. From here on you are entering a much more remote environment.
Breakfast may be taken on the Mbera River floodplain, which comprises stunning acacia woodland with large patches of thick “Adrenaline” grass – a habitat much favoured by all the predators. Towards the end of the dry season it also hosts large groups of female elephants with their babies.
The day is spent paddling through a maze of small channels before once again joining the main Zambezi. For a change, lunch is on one of the shallow sandbanks in the middle of the river, where a table and chairs are set up in ankle deep water with the whole width of the river stretching out on either side. This afternoon is the last chance for canoeing. Depending on water levels and time allowed, there may be an opportunity to explore Chikwenya Island on foot. This unique island is the largest on this section of the river and is host to prolific bird life as well as a number of interesting mammal species. In the afternoon you will paddle into Illala Camp to spend the last night in the rustic luxury of the Odyssey Camp.
Depending on guests departure time, or if guests are moving on to an alternative camp, an early morning walk before breakfast is possible or a well deserved lie in! After which, there will be a short game drive to the airstrip or Nyamepi main camp where we will bid you farewell! As you depart with your memories, we know that this experience will have enriched your life and touched your soul!
Odyssey Safaris do NOT include transfers. Clients are able to charter return flights to Mana Pools National Park to maximise time spent on safari. Commercial flights can be arranged to and from Harare, Kariba, Victoria Falls, Hwange, Lusaka or Livingstone. Please contact us for assistance booking charter flights or transfers.
Alternatively guests may make their own way to Mana Pools by driving. For all canoe safaris, please arrive by 11:30am at the latest to be able to fit an afternoon of canoeing.
Additional nights can be added to any safari - for example, start a safari with a Camp Zambezi so you are well rested, before starting a 3 day Mana Shoreline Canoe Safari, or alternatively end a canoe safari with a Camp Zambezi so that you have an extra day to relax on the shores of the Zambezi. Please contact us with any special requests so that Natureways is able to tailor a safari to your needs.
Generally the Odyssey routine is similar to that of an Explorer Canoe Safari, however, with a few deserved luxuries. You will be awakened early, warm water will be placed in a basin outside your tent, while freshly brewed coffee awaits you on the campfire. All will have the opportunity to have something to eat before setting out on safari. There is the option of going for an early morning walk or game drive before breakfast or, for the avid fisherman, there is time to pull out a rod. Odyssey Safaris are tailored to suite the individual. Camp is set up and taken down by our staff to ensure that guests spend as much time as possible doing safari activities or simply enjoying their surroundings.
Natureways Odyssey Safari Camps have no permanent ablution facilities, however camps are served by the luxury of long drop toilets and, for night-use, all tents have en-suite chemical toilets. Guest can also revel in a luxurious hot shower underneath the star-studded expanse of the African sky.
BACK UP STATUS
All Odyssey Safaris are fully backed up with a Natureways team and 4x4 vehicle. The team will take care of all our guests’ needs and camp chores. During our mobile safaris the camp will be taken down and all equipment and guest luggage will be transferred to the next campsite by vehicle after guests have left for their day’s activity be it canoeing or walking.
All camping equipment is supplied.
Our Odyssey Safaris are true bush camps, but offering a little rustic luxury – there is no electricity or plumbing and there are no permanent structures. It is a taste of the way a safari used to be - a truly authentic, African bush experience. Camps are eco-friendly, designed to be erected and dismantled within hours, leaving no trace on the environment.
Natureways has custom-built tents to guarantee guest comfort: they are spacious walk-in style tents supplied with en-suite toilet facilities for night-use and comfortable beds with fresh linen. Stationary camp tents are mosquito-proof with mosquito-gauzed rooves so guests can lie in bed and enjoy the night sky. (All our tents have fly sheets to ensure no one gets wet if it does rain! They also provide shade should one want an afternoon sleep). Odyssey camps are fully equipped with a mobile kitchen run by an experienced bush cook, bar facilities and a dining area with full waiter service.
All produce is brought in fresh and meals are prepared in camp by one of our famed bush cooks. All breads and pastries are freshly baked on the open campfire. Vegetarian or other dietary preferences can be catered to providing Natureways is advised 14 days prior to the safari. Breakfast may consist of cereals, yoghurt, muffins, biscuits, pancakes, toast and jams. On the last day of safari, a full English breakfast will be laid on for clients to enjoy. Lunch is usually fresh quiche, lasagne or similar with a varied selection freshly baked bread, salads and cheeses. Dinners are full 3-course meals with various starters, delicious main courses and sumptuous deserts all eaten by candlelight under the stars, accompanied by an imported bottle of wine.
All Odyssey Safaris include a supply of local beers, spirits, imported wines, minerals, cordials, mineral water, tea and coffee. Drinks are served by our friendly camp staff whilst guests relax. We recommend you contact Natureways with any drink preferences i.e. if a particular brand of local beer is preferred. Clients are also free to bring their own beverages, cooler boxes can be set aside for this purpose. There is no limit to the amount of beverages you may bring.
To ensure guests have time to canoe on the first afternoon we advise all guests to arrive in Mana Pools no later than 11:30am, whether flying into the Park or driving. We recommend guests combine their safari with a one night Camp Zambezi allowing guests to arrive whenever they like and ensures everyone is well rested before the canoeing beings the next day.
The wildlife in Zimbabwe's National Parks is hugely abundant and below is a taster of what you might see on these Mobile Canoe Safaris. The full list would be far too numerous and why ruin the surprise? Join us on safari and find out for yourself as every day is different.