Best boating safaris in Africa - Wild Voyager Blog
Best boating safaris in Africa

Best boating safaris in Africa

Africa is home to several vital rivers that feed into the African landscape. Rivers and lakes have always been important geographical features. It has supported the livelihoods of millions of people and animals since time immemorial.

Flowing over the territories of the African continent, these water bodies also make up for magnificent boat safaris. While game drives in 4×4 are thrilling, experiencing a boat safari in Africa offers a unique perspective.

A group of Hippopotamus bathe in a river
A group of Hippopotamus bathe in a river

Moreover, instead of struggling with heat and dust, boat safaris are calm, serene, and just as exciting. They offer ways to travel through off-track or unbeaten paths that are almost impassable by roadways. The vibrant life along the bushveld provides a look at the abundant wildlife relying on rivers and lakes in Africa.

Hippos and crocodiles lazing around and giraffes drinking water from the riverside are some of the most common sights. Moreover, it is impossible to miss out on majestic sunsets, spectacular sundowners, and the diverse plant life while enjoying a boat safari.

Here are the top 8 places that are excellent for a refreshing boat safari in Africa:

1. Chobe River, South-Central Africa

The Chose River forms the northern boundary of Chobe National Park and is an integral part of Botswana’s safari experience. Bordered by floodplains, riverine forests, and open woodlands, it offers some of the best game viewing sights in Africa.

A herd of elephants drink water at the bank of Chobe River
A herd of elephants drink water at the bank of Chobe River

The Chobe River witnesses the highest concentration of elephant population, antelopes, and buffalos. Furthermore, there is a wide range of predators from lions, leopards, cheetahs to wild dogs who frequently visit the river.

In summer, bird watching becomes phenomenal at Chobe River as the number of bird species increases.

2. Okavango Delta, Botswana

Okavango Delta lies deep within the Kalahari Desert and often appears as a beautifully watery wilderness. Boat safaris in this delta give you a chance to explore the intricate network of channels and glassy lagoons.

A beautiful sunset over Okavango Delta
A beautiful sunset over Okavango Delta

Bird sightings are copious at Okavango Delta where one can spot herons, bee-eaters, kingfishers, and fishing owls. Elephants especially love to swim in the waters of this delta and can be easily seen through a boat safari.

If you are feeling more adventurous, you can explore the Delta islands to unravel hidden hippo pools, backwaters, lagoons, and secret channels.

3. Quirimbas Archipelago

Quirimbas Archipelago is situated in Northern Mozambique. It is renowned for its white-sand beaches and pristine waters. You can experience island hopping in this archipelago by embarking on boat safaris.

A dhow at the Ibo Island in Quirimbas Archipelago
A dhow at the Ibo Island in Quirimbas Archipelago

The idea of a boat safari in Quirimbas alters from the usual rides. Here, the mode of transport will be dhow, a traditional Arabic vessel that is motorized for reliability.

Activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking can also be enjoyed. You can learn more about the vibrant history of Quirimbas and experience camping on one of the unhabituated islands at this archipelago.

4. Senegal River, West Africa

The Senegal river forms the border between Senegal and Mauritania. A boat safari in Senegal provides the chance to marvel at West Africa’s nature and the compelling history of the river.

A pelican takes off at Senegal River
A pelican takes off at Senegal River

As you sail, you will pass by old French forts, as well as the Tukolor, Maure, and Wolof villages. The striking architecture of Saint Louis can be admired closely from the boat. You can also have a look at the lifestyle and ancient traditions of the local villagers.

The boat safari does not miss the opportunity to showcase northern Senegal’s diverse wildlife and birdlife.

5. Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania

The Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania is popular for its exhilarating jeep safaris. But the boat safaris along the might Rufiji River is known for offering the finest experience in the reserve.

A boat sails through the Rufiji River
A boat sails through the Rufiji River

An entire day spent on a boat safari in Selous increases your chance of seeing a wide variety of local wildlife. While hippos and crocodiles like to lurk beneath the water, impalas, waterbucks and buffaloes often frequent the river. One might also catch glances of elephants and lion prides quenching their thirst by the Rufiji River.

The boat safaris also take place in the various lakes inside the reserve like Lake Tagala, Lake Manze, Lake Siwandu, and more. This place is a paradise for bird watchers as plentiful water birds can be seen.

6. Lake Naivasha, Kenya

Lake Naivasha is the highest lake in the Rift valley and is famous for its pink flamingos. A boat safari at this destination promises a plethora of bird species in the region.

Coots swimming in Lake Naivasha
Coots swimming in Lake Naivasha

Ornithologists and bird watchers alike can spot vibrant and diverse birds like the goliath heron, pink-backed pelicans, African fish eagles, kingfishers, and the obvious flamingos. A boat safari in this shallow freshwater lake also allows one to see the luscious acacia woodlands and open grasslands.

As you glide through the waters of Lake Naivasha, you can absorb the beautiful view of Mount Longonot visible in the distance.

7. Sandwich Harbour, Namibia

The Sandwich Harbour is part of the Namib Naukluft Park and is immensely famous for its dunes. They are the world’s highest dunes that descend into the Atlantic Ocean to form a scenic lagoon.

A colony of seals in Walvis Bay, Sandwich Harbor
A colony of seals in Walvis Bay, Sandwich Harbor

In this dramatic spot, jeep safaris are mostly undertaken. But, the boat safaris offer a different perspective of the harbor. While sailing in the water, one has ample chances to meet pelicans who often sit on the boat edges. There are sea lions and dolphins that can also be spotted during the safari.

From July to November, Southern Right Whale and Humped Back Whale are seen in Sandwich Harbour as well.

8. Zambezi River, Zambia

Zambezi River offers picturesque boat safaris that explores various channels and speeds over shallow waters smoothly.

Orange dusk over Zambezi River
Orange dusk over Zambezi River

The boat safaris let visitors pass through places in the Zambezi that are impossible to get through by any other means. The thrill of getting over rapids or slowing down to enjoy wildlife and bird sightings can only be felt with boat safaris in the Zambezi. One can also see herds of buffaloes and elephants crossing the river closely.

Moreover, the spectacular sunset at Zambezi River cannot be missed at all costs during the boat trip.

Africa provides the most impressive boat safaris which are as appealing as game drives. Don’t forget to try out the listed boat rides and enjoy sailing in the waters of Africa for your next vacation.


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Wild Voyager Team

The blogging team at Wild Voyager. We are explorers at heart and we love to share our travel stories and destination knowledge with you, which often serve as an inspiration for the life changing journeys we curate. When you decide to embark on one such life changing journey, our travel experience designers at will be happy to get you started.

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