How to go with the flow in Africa, from running rapids on the Nile to paddling past pachyderms in Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve. By Paul Bloomfield.
1 Watch wildlife from the Athi River, Kenya
Flowing past Nairobi before heading southeast to the coast, the Athi offers relatively gentle rapids (the wildest white water being Class IV). But with several quiet stretches, there’s plenty of opportunity for relaxing and spotting game as you drift past Tsavo National Park, watching out for giraffes, elephants and hippos. Three-day trips cover 80-plus kilometres, camping on white-sand riverside beaches.
2 Delve into the Blyde River Canyon, SA
Several of South Africa’s rivers offer thrilling rafting, but the Blyde River is something else – not least because it snakes through what’s often called the planet’s biggest ‘green’ canyon. Through its 26km length, the canyon’s red sandstone cliffs and pinnacles, soaring to nearly 2000m altitude, are shrouded in lush vegetation. As well as glorious vistas, expect some testing rapids on a one-day river adventure. • KQ flies at least three times daily to Johannesburg.
3 Raft the Nile, Uganda
When Africa’s longest river exits Lake Victoria on its way north to the Mediterranean Sea, it’s still young – newborn even – according to explorer John Speke who in 1862 declared this the source of the Nile. Its youthful exuberance manifests itself in bubbling, churning white water. Starting from Jinja, a couple of hours’ drive east of Kampala, rafters tackle rapids ranging from Class III to V. • KQ flies six times daily to Entebbe.
4 Meander down the Rufiji River, Tanzania
One for wildlife enthusiasts rather than adrenaline addicts, the Rufiji flows through Africa’s largest game reserve, the Selous. This vast wilderness, covering over 45,000 square kilometres of plains, woods and uplands, hosts most of the animals you’d hope to see on a top-notch safari: huge herds of elephants and buffalos, lions, zebras, giraffes and profuse birdlife. Motorised river safaris are popular, but you can also paddle yourself on a multi-day rafting trip. • KQ flies to Dar es Salaam five times daily.