Swap wheels for waves as you celebrate nature’s water-loving animals on a boat safari. Some may say they’re simply game drives on water, but we say they’re more than that; think getting up-close and personal with elephants, otters, crocodiles and hippos, for the most part unphased by the boat’s silent approach. Whichever corner of the planet you find yourself in, the scenic lakes and rivers are sure to be buzzing with brilliant boat safaris. From Uganda to Australia, read on to discover some of our favourites...
- Murchison Falls, Uganda
- Okavango Delta, Botswana
- Gal Oya National Park, Sri Lanka
- Kakadu National Park, Australia
Uganda’s Murchison Falls takes the crown as the world’s most powerful waterfall. With the waters of the Nile thundering through a 23ft gap before dropping into a 140ft gorge, it’s every bit as impressive as you might imagine. Arguably the best (and our favourite) way to explore this natural triumph is on a boat safari. Kingfishers and cormorants fly overhead and hippos, elephants and crocodiles stroll along the water’s edge as you drift towards the base of the falls. We recommend setting sail on a sunset safari to watch the Nile ignite and wildlife wander beneath the fiery sky.
Downsize to a mokoro – a traditional dugout canoe – and explore the reed-lined waterways of the Okavango Delta. Without the chugging of a bigger boat or car’s engine, wildlife is more likely to stick around as you punt silently along the waters; watch out for long-legged ibis, royal crane and some of the Big Five (elephants, buffalos, lions, leopards and rhinos). What’s more, being so close to the water lets you spot the mini beasts that otherwise go unnoticed, like colourful reed frogs and sleek dragonflies. The unrivalled peace of a mokoro ride makes this one of the most unique and favourable boat safaris in Botswana.
Image by Aminata Konte
If you’ve ever wished to witness elephants swim, trunks sprouting from the water like oversized snorkels, Sri Lanka’s Gal Oya is the place to do it. This diverse national park is home to Senanayake Samudraya, the largest reservoir in the country. Join a boat safari to watch these gentle giants munch the grassy banks, occasionally taking to the waters to swim from island to island (trunk proudly in the air, of course). Alongside them you’ll find sunbathing crocodiles, swooping birds and schools of fish. With the wind in your hair and boat rocking gently, get ready for picture perfect moments against Gal Oya’s blissful backdrop.
Indigenous Tourism puts local communities at the forefront of travel experiences. And when Down Under, who better to tell stories of the country’s culture and wilderness than the original custodians of the land? A cultural cruise along Kakadu’s serene East Alligator River offers just that. Accompanied by an Aboriginal guide, hear insights into local mythology, traditional uses for plants and bush survival skills. Remember to keep your eyes peeled for the kings of the river: saltwater crocodiles, the largest reptile in the world (yes, they can really reach seven metres long). So, suspend your croc-sized disbelief and hop onboard a Kakadu cruise for a reminder that boat safaris can be just as educational as they are entertaining.
Written by Evie Buller.