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03 December 2018

Activities on the Mighty Zambezi

Listed as the fourth longest river in Africa, the mighty Zambezi offers a variety of epic activities, as YZ Charlotte discovered on her safari to Zambia in October 2018.

I’ve been on the Zambezi River before, on a previous trip to Livingstone where I saw the marvel that is Victoria Falls and also took a boat ride but the sheer size of the river never really struck me until my recent trip to Lower Zambezi National Park this September/October. I spent 3 nights here and the Zambezi took my breath away, with its magnitude and speed alone… it is huge and it went on forever!

My first proper experience was the boat transfer to Chiawa Camp following my flight in to Royal Airstrip. This was a transfer (rather than a cruise), so we hit some good speed along the river and I was fighting to stop bugs getting into my eyes (I should have put my sunglasses on!) but it was brilliant… I just loved it! Racing along the river surrounded by the most wonderful, vast, wilderness was just fantastic. This wasn’t the only boat journey I got during my stay, I was fortunate enough to be driven up and down the river a few times going back and forth so I could see a number of camps – perhaps it was just the feeling of racing along a powerful river at speed – whatever it was, it was great.

1. Tiger fishing

I also had a few outings at a more leisurely pace, of course, I’m not all about the speed!  I was extremely keen to try my hand at tiger fishing as my Dad was an excellent fly fisherman so it would have been wrong not to give it a go in his honour.  Unfortunately, the river was a foot or two higher than usual during my time there and my guides at Old Mondoro Camp advised that tiger fishing would be tougher than usual – not as easy to catch due to the river height, but that didn’t stop me...  

We headed out early one morning to a favourite location and myself and one of the guides, Peter, cast our lines.  The tiger fishing we did was essentially fly-fishing, with large shiny lures rather than live bait much to my relief!

Within seconds Peter had a bite and he passed the rod over to me so I could reel it in, so I finally got to feel the power of this incredible fish and even though it was only a small one, it gave a good fight!

We quickly released it back in to the river and continued to cast. It wasn’t long before I hooked my first (and only) tiger and it was another young fish that flew out of the water as it battled with me and it won too… I call it catch and self-release! We had no luck for the rest of the morning but I was happy enough. 

2. Vundu fishing

I also got to try my hand at vundu fishing. Fishing for vundu – catfish, is different, they prefer soap! So we set up a couple of rods with soap, headed for a prime vundu spot on the river and casted. This is a game of patience and unfortunately the vundu got the better of us as we didn’t get a single bite but it was great to give it a go!

Charlotte Fishing River Zambezi
Fishing Zambezi River

3. Boat safari on the Zambezi

On my last morning, we headed out for another Zambezi expedition, this time a relaxing cruise, taking it all in… wonderful birds - bee-eaters and kingfishers and of course plenty of elephants feeding along the banks. They waded through the river to reach the smaller islands in the middle to make the most of the winter-thorn pods which are in abundance at this time of year and an important food source for many animals. This was such a peaceful experience… hippos snorting and ‘laughing’ as we passed by, huge crocodiles slipping into the water as we got too close for their comfort and the sound of the water lapping as we softly passed by.

This really is an incredible river, full of life and power and undoubtedly very deserving of the title as The Mighty Zambezi.

If you would like to learn more on how to add a river cruise safari to your vacation, just get in touch with a member of the YZ team. Alternatively, check out the suggested trips below for more inspiration:

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