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Who accompanies us?
You will be accompanied by professional English-speaking, first aid trained guides, and support staff. You will also be accompanied throughout by a first aid trained UK tour manager, and Cats Protection staff member.
What is the scenery like?
The area of the Lower Zambezi River you will visit is quite wide with tree-lined sandy banks either side. August, the dry season, is a good time for animal spotting on the banks of the Zambezi as the inland streams start drying up and animals travel to the river bank for water. As you paddle downstream you are likely to spot plenty of elephants, hippos and crocodiles. Don’t worry; your local guides will navigate you through the river so you can admire these incredible creatures without disturbing their territory.
It is also possible you will spot buffalo, giraffe, the occasional zebra and wildebeest, and if you’re very lucky you may spot a lion or a wild dog.
The Zambian sunrise and sunsets are immeasurably beautiful and the entire landscape changes colour as the sun moves through the sky, reflecting off the calm waters.
What is the weather like?
August is a great time to visit Zambia. It is the middle of the dry season and the coolest month to visit. Temperatures range from 23-27°C during the day and drop to around 0-8°C at night so it’s important that you bring warm layers for the evenings. The weather should be dry and calm with low water levels on the river.
Although the temperatures and conditions above are historically accurate, climate change can impact the seasons so you may experience uncharacteristic conditions during the trip which are out of our control. Should this happen the guide will assess the situation and make decisions to ensure the best enjoyment and ultimately safety of the group as a whole.
I’ve never canoed before, can I join?
No previous canoeing experience is required (although this would be a bonus) but a good level of general fitness is recommended as the days can be long and tiring. Life jackets are supplied. You will paddle approximately 12-28km per day on the river but there are some leisurely stretches where you can soak up the sights and sounds of Africa. Occasionally you will pull in and walk along the shore, looking out for animals along the way. The water levels on the river stay fairly consistent due to regulation by upstream reservoirs and there are no rapids to contend with.
How tough is it?
The trip is graded moderate to challenging due to the long days canoeing, basic camping conditions and wide ranging temperatures.
What about the daily routine?
You will be given a thorough briefing on what to expect before you commence your canoe expedition. The typical day will start with an early wake-up call with tea or coffee and biscuits. You will then set off downstream so you can take advantage of viewing the animals when they’re most active. You’ll pull in for breakfast before continuing to canoe towards a sheltered spot for a long lunch to avoid the heat of the day before heading to our overnight spot to set up camp and help prepare dinner. Evenings are often spent around the camp fire telling stories and getting to know one another. It’s also a great opportunity to reflect on the day, enjoy stargazing or write a journal.
Where will we stay?
During the canoe expedition, camp will be set up each night on the banks of the river, or on small islands. You will share two-man tents (two to a tent) which have incorporated mosquito netting. Sleeping bags and thin sleeping mats are provided but you may bring your own mat, for extra comfort.
During your days in Livingstone you will stay at a Jollyboys Backpackers lodge (twin or triple share rooms with shared bathroom facilities), you will camp overnight in tents at Chobe National Park (two to a tent) with mats and blankets provided, and you will stay in small huts at a Eureka lodge in Lusaka on the final night (twin or triple share with en-suite bathroom facilities).
What about toilets and hygiene?
During the canoe expedition, water will be drawn from the river for washing. You are recommended to bring environmentally friendly shampoo and soap products to keep pollutants to a minimum. Lush (www.lush.co.uk) products are worth considering. Toilet facilities comprise a hole dug into the ground with a small privacy tent. You should bring your own supply of toilet paper and a small pack of baby wipes for general hygiene throughout the day. Used toilet paper must be packed away into a nappy sack or similar and disposed of in the bin at the campsite; toilet paper (and other litter) should never be left on the ground.
What equipment is provided?
The canoes are two-man 18-foot Canadian-style fibreglass canoes with containment nets and ropes to ensure both group gear and personal belongings are secure at all times. Each canoe has five buoyancy chambers, while the bucket seats are foam cushioned allowing a reasonable level of back support. Single bladed paddles are used and life jackets supplied.
Anything you need for the canoe trip should be packed into a soft holdall which will be packed into a dry bag (provided). Any luggage not required for on the river (large suitcases, hairdryers etc.) will be stored securely.
A kit list will be provided on registration.
What is the food like?
The day starts with hot drinks and biscuits then after several hours canoeing you will stop for breakfast which will comprise produce such as eggs, pancakes, fruit, toast, bacon, sausages etc. with more hot drinks. Lunch will be an assortment of cold meats, salads, breads and cheeses and dinner will involve a main meat dish with vegetables and potatoes rice or pasta. Dietary requirements can be catered for if we are notified in advance. There is always plenty to do at meal times so get involved and help your guides with preparation.
Who can take part?
The minimum age is 18 (or 16-17 if accompanied by an adult). There is no upper age limit. An ideal candidate would be someone who enjoys being out of their comfort zone, likes to try new things, has a good level of fitness, is healthy and determined and has a flexible and open minded personality.
How fit do I need to be?
You should arrive in Zambia with a good fitness level to ensure fast recovery from each day’s exertions. Fitness training such as hill walking, swimming, running, cycling, gym workouts, team sports and boot camps etc. are all excellent ways to increase your fitness. Building your core and upper body strength will benefit you greatly, so you are recommended to include resistance workouts (such as push-ups, squats, planks, lunges, triceps dips, bicep curls etc.) into your routine. These exercises can be done at home without any specialist equipment. You can download a number of free apps which will help you train and track your progress. E.g. MapMyWalk, C25K (couch to 5k run), MyFitnessPal etc. Attempting to complete the trip without training may hinder your experience, and the experience of your teammates.
We require a medical form to be completed by everyone upon registering, and any pre-existing conditions, medications used and other medical issues must be noted.
Any conditions that develop must be declared and if required, a new medical form completed and signed.
What does it cost?
To sign up you will pay a non-refundable registration fee of £360. This may be payable in up to three instalments.
Once your place is confirmed you can start your fundraising which is a minimum pledge of £4,800 for Cats Protection.
This figure is in addition to the £360 registration fee. You will also need to budget for airport taxes and fuel surcharges not included (currently approx. £330). See below for inclusions and exclusions.
• Return flights from London (excluding taxes and fuel surcharges)
• All transfers in Zambia and Botswana
• Tents while canoeing and at Chobe National Park
• Rooms in Livingstone and basic huts at a lodge in Lusaka
• All meals and drinking water
• Donation to lion sanctuary and National Park fees
• Local expert English-speaking Zambian guides and support staff, a UK Different Travel tour manager
What do I need to budget for?
• Airport taxes and fuel surcharges (currently approximately £330 – correct Aug 18),
• Personal expenses such as drinks, souvenirs, tips etc.
• Vaccinations, malaria prophylaxis – (around £200-£300 depending on your vaccinations)
• Multiple-entry Zambian visa (current cost US$80 – correct Aug 18)
• Zimbabwe visa* (current cost $55 on arrival – correct Aug 18)
• Travel insurance
• Personal equipment
*This will be confirmed before departure
Is the trip ATOL protected?
When you book you will be financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see the booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate.