Whether it’s a sunset-cruise or a few days journey on one of Africa’s iconic rivers, a boat trip always adds an extra dimension to a wildlife safari, as amphibians and semi aquatic species can be observed in their natural environment.
Botswana features one of the most interesting watercourses on the planet: miraculously in the heart of the Kalahari Desert, one of the most inhospitable and arid deserts on the planet, is an incredibly prolific ecosystem, the Okavango delta. This sophisticated system of canals, waterways, lagoons, vegetation and grassland, fed by a river whose journey started 1600 km away in Angola, is a wonder of the natural world, a delta that fails to reach the sea. By spending a couple of nights on a houseboat in the Okavango Panhandle it is possible to appreciate this truly remote wilderness and observe elephants, hippos, crocodiles and a myriad of birds from the comfort of the boat, while sipping a drink on the upper deck.
The iconic River Gambia flows along the entire length of the homonymous country for 300 miles and the best way to explore it is embarking on a cruise. As well as the variety of wildlife and birds that inhabit its banks and waters, the ever changing landscape is a highlight in itself as you cruise through tropical forest, bamboo groves, rice paddies and mangrove swamps.
Short cruises can be equally rewarding: the Kazinga Channel in Uganda is considered a gem of rare beauty as elephant, buffalo, hippos and Nile crocodiles are easily spotted in large numbers with the lush vegetation of Queen Elizabeth National Park as a backdrop.
If you are not intrepid enough to challenge the Zambesi rapids, then a tranquil cruise is a must when visiting Victoria Falls. Whilst spotting wildlife and listening to the sound of the “Smoke that Thunders”, there is no better place on earth to watch the sunset!