Boat safaris are an extraordinary way for you to experience some of the most celebrated safari destinations in the world.
With the water below, the clear blue sky above and diverse species of wildlife and birds teeming on the banks alongside, there really is something special about being on a boat on an African river. The beauty of boat safaris is that they offer great wildlife and bird sighting opportunities all from a relatively different perspective.
Here are the three reasons why we love going on boat safaris in Africa:
A major draw-card about going on safari – whether by land or water – is the animals you’re going to see. So, if you’ve created an ever-growing ‘wildlife bucketlist’, going on safari means witnessing great sightings, such as a pride of lions taking down a giraffe or perhaps an impala dropping its calf during the birthing season.
A curious buffalo and elephant check out the visitors to Botswana © Under One Botswana Sky
Boat safaris are unique because of where they place you in relation to land and water animals. Cruising along the Chobe River with Under One Botswana Sky, for instance, will get you up close to elephants quenching their thirst and hippos lazing around to cool down in the midday heat. Such sightings are unusual because of the perspective from which you experience them. You would never be able to get this close safely to a hippo in the wild if it weren’t for boat safaris.
A lioness in Luangwa National Park tries jumping onto dry land without falling in © Robin Pope Safaris
Water is the lifeblood of all creatures, which means that the opportunity to witness diverse species congregating in the same area is heightened. So too is the potential for dramatic predator-prey action on the river banks. For where there is water, there are plains game and other prey-worthy animals, which brings the lions, wild dogs and various other carniverous animals.
Healthy rivers are home to healthy populations of water birds that are either endemic to the region or migrant visitors that come to nest and breed. For birds, as with wildlife, rivers and their surrounding environments play an important role in their life.
Carmine bee-eaters flock to the banks of the Luangwa River to nest and breed © Robin Pope Safaris
Carmine bee-eaters are inter-African migrants that come to Zambia to build their nests, breed and rear their young in the steep, clay banks of the Luangwa River. Taking a River Journey – a specialised boat safari itinerary by Robin Pope Safaris – will allow you to take in all the action of the birds zipping between bank and bush finding insects for their hatchlings.
A heron looks across the Chobe River, its home and source of food © Under One Botswana Sky
Bobbing in the middle of a river is the ideal spot to be when a heron dives beak-first or a fish eagle feet-first into the water to snatch up fish for their dinner. These are the special moments that boat safaris are all about.
Boat safaris position you to witness things from a different angle, which translates to new angles from which to photography distinct moments. Whether you’re a professional photographer or just like a good, old point-and-shoot, you’ll want to bring your camera with you on safari.
The sky turns to magical oranges and blues over the Zambezi River © Tongabezi
From beautiful riverbank scenery immediately visible to hills outlined in the far distance, boat cruises provide you with a superb canvas from which to practice your craft. African sunsets are famed for their expansive hues of oranges, pinks, purples and blues so that silhouette shot you’ve always wanted to take might just be waiting for you when you take off from the jetty at Tongabezi on the Zambezi River.
A hippo lolling about in the Luangwa River makes for a wonderful photograph © Robin Pope Safaris