Whether an experienced paddler or a first-timer on the water, a paddling safari is a special way to see Africa. Looking out at the waterways and rivers of this beautiful continent, there is nothing quite like exploring from the water and game-viewing from this unique, shifting vantage point.

Becoming one with nature has never felt so invigorating.

Poling a mekoro, canoeing, kayaking, white water rafting. Africa's rivers, lakes, and waterways are alive with possibility when it comes to different kinds of paddling safaris. From wild to placid waters, often sharing the water with hippos and crocodiles, there is something to excite everyone from the first-timer to the more experienced paddler on safari. "In our experience, canoeing is the most memorable and epic activity we offer," says Linda Fisher of Baines' River Camp when asked what not to miss on the Zambezi. "Seeing the elephants come down to the water to drink or watching as a sleeping hippo pops his head up from under the water, there is so much to take in and experience whilst quietly drifting down the channel."

With a strong fishing culture around Africa, don't pass up the chance to try your hand at paddling local craft if the opportunity arises. "It's not as easy as it looks," said Peter Holbrow of Raw Botswana, talking about the water safaris on offer in this rare and pristine wilderness. The challenge of mastering the art of poling in remote, scenic environments will certainly be something you will remember forever. More than anything, there is something incredibly peaceful about the gentle lap of water against the side of your boat, an elephant drinking or the flicker of a hippo ear nearby, as you drift by - part of sometimes ancient waterways for a moment in time.

Man in a safari shirt and safari hat setting the GPS co-ordinates on his Suunto watch on a boat on the Kafue River, Zambia

Shop the paddling safari essentials for him

According to Linda Fisher at Baines' River Camp, a camera to capture the incredible moments and a pair of binoculars to see detail up close are some of the essentials for a paddling safari. By pairing Swarovski and iPhone using the adapter system, you can get the best of both for your riverine adventures. We combined her expert advice with our packing know-how to come up with the following list. Click on the images below to shop the paddling safari packing essentials and click here for a comprehensive safari packing list.

Woman in a hat and safari T-shirt looking behind her with a pair of Swarovski 10x42 binoculars on a boat on the Kafue River

Shop the paddling safari essentials for her

The sun is bright and strong, warns Linda, which makes sun protection vital for paddling safaris. This includes sunglasses, sunscreen, and a long-sleeved shirt for extra protection. We combined her expert advice with our packing know-how to come up with the following list. Click on the images below to shop the paddling safari packing essentials and download your comprehensive safari packing list to ensure you pack everything you need.

A man’s legs standing in a mekoro wearing safari shorts on a paddling safari in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Discover more active safaris

Plan your next safari by exploring the different active safari options below and get expert advice on what to pack to get the most out of every experience.

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