Africa is home to some of the world’s greatest waterways, including the Nile River, Congo, and Zambezi Rivers. There is also a multitude of lakes and coastal archipelagos that are beautiful and diverse. One of the best ways to explore this vast continent is to go boating. It’s a great way to explore these water bodies and discover the magnificent scenery surrounding them, with the added benefit of avoiding rough and dusty roads. Below, check out some of the best boat safaris in Africa.
Boat Safaris in Botswana’s Okavango Delta
On your boat safaris in the Okavango Delta, you’ll be exploring an intricate network of beautiful lagoons and winding channels onboard a motorised boat, showcasing the magnificent views of the watery landscape. This unique journey offers incredible sightings of water birds, such as kingfishers, herons, and colourful bee-eaters.
As one of the last great natural sanctuaries in Africa, the Okavango Delta is a pristine and vast wilderness home to a huge concentration of wildlife. While most river deltas lead to an ocean, the water from the Okavango River gets emptied into open land, thereby flooding the savanna, producing a unique inland delta. The delta swells up to three times in size from March to August, fluctuating between 6,000 to 15,000 sq. km. It’s one of the premier wilderness areas in the world, home to buffaloes, elephants, hippos, giraffes, leopards, hyenas, and crocodiles.
The best way to explore the Okavango Delta is on a boating safari, where you ride a traditional canoe as it traverses the scenic waterways. Animals are not the only inhabitants of the Okavango Delta, as the Basarwa tribe has also called it their home, where they fish, hunt, and grow crops.
Boat Safaris in Kenya
When it comes to boat safaris in Africa, Kenya often tops the list. Many tour companies offer Kenya safari holidays for families that include a boat safari to Lake Naivasha, aside from exploring the usual parks and reserves.
Lake Naivasha is a scenic freshwater lake home to an interesting variety of wildlife, including hippos and thousands of bird varieties. Its inner island is home to various wild animals, some of which were brought in during the filming of the movie Born Free. The lake is lined with papyrus and forests of yellow-barked Acacia trees, also known as the yellow fever tree. This habitat is excellent for birdlife, making Naivasha one of the world’s best destinations for birdwatching.
What makes Lake Naivasha special is that it’s home to many hippos. These creatures love to dwell on shallow waters and abundant vegetation, where they feast at night. During your boating safari, you’ll visit a hippo nursery where you’ll see female hippos giving birth. The lake is an important source of income for many locals, not just those in the tourism industry but also those involved in fishing activities.
Boat Safaris in Tanzania
Tanzania is a nation of many rivers and lakes. So, it comes as no surprise why it’s considered one of the best destinations for boating safaris in Africa. The waterways of Tanzania are home to different wildlife species that you can witness during your boat safari, from aquatic animals like hippos to aquatic birds like flamingos. You will find various water bodies in Tanzania that offer boat safari excursions. Some of the most popular ones are the Wami River in Saadani national park and the Rufiji River in Selous game reserve.
Located in the southern portion of Saadani national park, the Wami River offers an amazing boat safari. It can be done in the morning or afternoon and could take two to three hours. During your boat safari, you’ll enjoy spectacular landscape views and incredible wildlife sightings, from crocodiles to hippos.
On the other hand, the Rufiji River is the largest river in Tanzania. The water flows from southwest highlands towards the eastern part of the country before reaching the Indian Ocean. During your boat safari of the Rufiji River, you’ll encounter interesting wild animals, such as elephants, hippos, and crocodiles.
Boat Safaris in Namibia
Namibia offers many wonderful safari experiences, but those done on a boat are the most popular. Although land-based safaris are also popular here, some tourists prefer a boat safari at the iconic Namib Sea, Fish River Canyon, or the brutal Skeleton Coast.
Some of the most popular spots for a boating safari on the Namibian coast are Swakopmund and its neighbouring city of Walvis Bay. These places are often included in some of the luxury Namibia holidays and tours. Swakopmund is a charming coastal city of Namibia, with sandy beaches facing the Atlantic Ocean. Walvis Bay is only a short drive from Swakopmund and is famous for its epic dolphin boat cruise.
Aside from dolphins, your boating safari of Walvis Bay will include sightings such as seals and pelicans. You will also be treated to fresh oysters and sparkling wine during your luxury tour of the Namibian coast.
Boat Safaris in Nyerere National Park
The Nyerere National Park is now Africa’s largest national park. It offers an excellent setting to enjoy a boat safari in Africa. It’s one of the game-rich areas in the Selous Game Reserve, which spans into the Rufiji River in the south eastern part of Tanzania.
During your boat safari of the Nyerere National Park, you’ll have a great chance of spotting hippos and crocodiles, including a wide variety of bird species, from kingfisher to heron. You can also spot some Nile monitor lizards in the trees along the riverbanks.
There are two types of boat safaris that you can enjoy at the Nyerere National Park. The 2 to 3-hour sunset or dawn tour along the Rufiji River and a full day boat safari exploring both Rufiji River and the lakes of Selous Game Reserve. When you do the safari in the afternoon, there’s a greater chance of seeing crocodiles since temperatures are higher. An afternoon boat safari also comes with the added advantage of enjoying the stunning sunset views. If you have plenty of time, it is best to book the full-day boat safari. It offers an in-depth exploration of the Rufiji River and the Selous Game Reserve.