Rio Elefantes Canoeing Trail

Due to droughts, the Olifants River below the Massingir dam is no longer flowing.  No canoe trails until further notice.  Kindly communicate with the reservations office for status updates –


  • Gentle canoeing 3 night 4 day trail with a minimum of 4 and maximum of 8 guests.

Paddle the Elefantes – between the confluence of the Shingwedzi and the confluence of the Limpopo. Spend three days journeying down the Rio Elefantes, camping wild in rustic bush camps on its tree-lined banks. A cast for tiger fish, a pod of hippo or the sighting of a rare bird will enthrall you on your 50km journey that ends close to the confluence with the Limpopo – the epitome of freedom in an amazing wilderness area.

Trail Description

  • The Rio Elefantes Canoeing Trail offers an unforgettable three night, four day adventure through a remote wilderness area for groups of no more than 8 paddlers (by special arrangement this can be extended to 10).
  • Trails are led by an experienced guide.
  • Three days are spent paddling the meandering river and three nights camping wild on its tree-lined banks.
  • On the first day trailists meet their guide at Campismo Albufeira (see details below) from where you are transported along tracks through remote villages to the starting point of the trail, a distance of around 40 km, where we enter the amazingly clear water of the Rio Elefantes. From here it’s a 10 km paddle to the first overnight camp
  • Day two starts with breakfast and then it’s a gentle 20 km paddle, breaking for a picnic lunch, before reaching the overnight campsite.
  • Day three is also a paddle of around 20 km before leaving the water close to the Limpopo confluence. Lunch is enjoyed in a village after which we return by road to the overnight camp.
  • On the fourth day, after coffee and rusks, we depart camp and journey by road through this remote area back to Campismo Albufeira
  • The river flows at four to six kilometres per hour and provides a relaxing and thoroughly enjoyable paddle and an opportunity to cast for Tiger fish (catch and release)
  • Birding is excellent en-route and sightings of hippo and crocodile, as well as a shy buck or two are likely.
  • Each night offers the prospect of its own special experience, from the sun setting over the river, to the “laughing” of a pod of hippo or the call of a fish eagle in the riverine forest. Even the possibility of trumpeting elephant.
  • Trailists gather around the fire chatting whilst ‘bush cuisine’ meals are prepared by the camp assistants. Then head off to the shelter of your tent to be lulled to sleep by the sounds of the night.
  • The purpose of the Rio Elefantes Canoeing Trail is to afford trailists an intimate and adventurous wilderness encounter in this remote area. The Guide will, within reason, adjust the pace at which the trail is paddled to accommodate the group’s pace and interests.


Camping fire

  • Located in Parque Nacional do Limpopo, the 1,1 million hectare Mozambique sector of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, adjacent to Kruger National Park.
  • Trailists paddle the Rio Elefantes, which forms the southern boundary of Parque Nacional do Limpopo, starting near its confluence with the Shingwedzi and ending 50 km downstream, close to its confluence with the Limpopo.


  • Conditions during the summer months can be very hot and humid with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees.
  • Winter nights can be very chilly with temperatures dropping to around 6 degrees.
  • Participants on the trail must be well prepared for the climatic conditions and should be reasonably fit.

CampsitesA scenic setting

  • Campsites are unfenced and located in clearings in the bush on the river bank.
  • Basic ablution facilities (bush shower and short-drop toilet) are available.
  • Water for cooking and washing as well as firewood is provided.

Equipment provided

  • Two person dome tents with camping mattresses are supplied.
  • Basic cooking utensils, cutlery and crockery are provided


  • 1 litre of drinking water per person per day is supplied.
  • We highly recommend that trailists have water purification tablets or an additional supply of water to meet their individual needs.
  • Trail participants need to cater for their own beverage requirements (see general information sheet re. import duties.) Moçambique beer and cooldrinks are available for purchase at the Giriyondo border post or in a village shop.

Night before trail starts

  • Trailists are required to arrange their own accommodation for the night before the trail begins at a location that will allow sufficient time to get to the meeting point

Meeting point and time

  • Trailists enter Parque Nacional do Limpopo from Kruger National Park via the Giriyondo border post or from Moçambique via the Massingir dam entry gate
  •  Meeting point for the trail is Campismo Albufeira at the Massingir dam entrance gate to Parque Nacional do Limpopo
  • Meeting time is 07.00 for 07.30 departure
  • Vehicles are parked at Campismo Albufeira for the duration of the trail.
  • Travelling time is approximately 2,5 hours from the pick-up point at Campismo Albufeira to the start of the trail.
  • On the last day travelling time from the campsite back to your vehicle at Campismo Albufeira is approximately 4,0 hours with an estimated time of arrival of 11.30 to 12.00. This allows sufficient time to return on the same day to Kruger National Park or to continue to the Moçambique coast.

In order to arrive on time for the departure of your trail you will need to spend the previous night at one of the following places:

  • Machampane Wilderness Camp, a luxury tented camp which offers full catering and walking trails and is located approximately 1.0 hour from the meeting point. Call +27 21 701 7860 to book accommodation.
  • Campismo Aguia Pesqueira which offers self-catering camping or chalets and is located approximately 45 mins from the meeting point (suitable for access with 4×4 vehicles only.) Call +258 84 301 1719 or +258 82 684 7968 to book accommodation.
  • Campismo Albufeira which offers self catering camping or chalets and is located at the meeting point. Call +258 84 301 1719 or +258 82 684 7968 to book accommodation.

Access to Rio Elefantes Canoeing Trail meeting point

By road from South Africa, through Kruger National Park:

  • Distance from Phalaborwa gate to Letaba Restcamp is 50km, from Letaba to the Giriyondo border post is 45km and from the border post to the Massingir dam entry gate / Campismo Albufeira is 80km – a total of 175km.
  • The route is through National Parks all the way and takes approximately 5,0 to 5,5 hours
  • 70 km is on tarred road and the remaining 105km on gravel, 30 km of which is corrugated and stony.
  • Vehicle with good ground clearance is strongly recommended, but a 4×4 is not essential.

By road from Maputo via Macia, Chokwe and Massingir:

  • Distance from Maputo to Massingir is approximately 400km and takes around 5,0 hours.
  • The meeting point at Campismo Albufeira is at the park entry gate at Massingir.
  • Road is good tar from Maputo to Massingir.
  • Vehicle with good ground clearance is strongly recommended if you are continuing your journey through Parque Nacional do Limpopo into Kruger National Park, but a 4×4 is not essential.

What to take

The items below are suggested as a check list:

  • Sleeping bag, towel and pillow
  • Sleeping mat (if you would like an additional one to the one we supply)
  • Powerful torch and spare batteries
  • Fishing equipment
  • Beverages
  • Additional snacks
  • Additional drinking water (and/or purification tablets)
  • Camera, binoculars and reference books (mammals/trees/birds)
  • Appropriate clothing, hat or cap and an all-weather jacket/raincoat
  • Sunscreen
  • Personal toiletries, medication, malaria tablets, sun-screen, mosquito repellant
  • Antihistamine ointment, tablets, eye drops, paracetamol, stingose etc
  • Cottonwool/gauze/plasters, scissors and tweezers
  • Toilet paper
  • Light-weight fishing rod and tackle
  • Water-proof bag for carrying camera equipment, binoculars etc

Clothing and footwear

  • Clothing should be comfortable and durable.
  • Neutral colours such as khaki are preferable. Light coloured garments such as whites and creams should be avoided.
  • T-shirts are not ideal as they provide little protection against the sun on the neck.
  • Trailists with sensitive skins are advised to wear a long sleeve vest and long pants with closed shoes while paddling
  • A hat or cap and an all-weather jacket are important items.
  • A tracksuit, either woollen or lightweight, depending on the season, is useful.
  • Footwear should be worn-in if possible, have thick soles and provide good ankle support. It is preferable not to wear white shoes.
  • Sandals
  • Swimming shorts


FishingTrails price includes

  • Experienced guide.
  • Tent and camping mattress
  • Camping cutlery and crockery
  • Canoes and paddles
  • Safety equipment
  • Meals (trails lunch and dinner on day 1; breakfast, trails lunch and dinner on days 2 & 3; coffee and rusks on day 4)
  • Cooler box for beverages
  • Road transfer from meeting point to start of canoe trail and return

Trails price excludes

  • All road transfers, other than specified above.
  • Snacks other than specified above
  • All beverages other than specified drinking water
  • Parque Nacional do Limpopo entrance fees.
  • Kruger National Park conservation fees.
  • Moçambique border fees.
  • Moçambique visa fee (not required for South African citizens).
  • Items of a personal nature e.g. curios, gratuities, etc.
  • Personal insurance: medical, baggage, cancellation, etc.

Cancellation Policy

  • Within 30 to 15 days of departure, 50% forfeiture of total booking value.
  • Within 14 days of departure, 90% forfeiture of total booking value.


  • Payments for gratuities etc may be made in Rands, Meticais, US$ or Euros.

Terms and Conditions

Non-or Late Arrival

  • The trail takes place in Moçambique and customs and immigration procedures have to be followed at Pafuri border post (see General Information sheet for operating hours).
  • Any person not in possession of the necessary travel documents on arrival at the border post will not be able to accompany the trail but will be liable for and will forfeit the full trail fee
  • This forfeiture also applies to all persons who by virtue of their late arrival are unable to accompany the trail. No refund of the trail fee will be made.


  • The Rio Elefantes Canoeing Trail takes place on a river that contains crocodiles and hippo and is located on the perimeter of Big 5 territory.
  • Overnight camps are unfenced.
  • The trail is accompanied by a guide but nevertheless carries the risk of injury or death should big game be encountered
  • In light of the exposed nature of the Rio Elefantes Canoeing Trail, all trailists must complete an indemnity form. Minors must be in possession of an indemnity form signed by a parent or legal guardian. These forms must be signed in the presence of the Trails Guide.

Child policy

  • Regrettably, children under the age of 10 may not participate.

Safety Policy

  • The general rules and regulations of Letaba Ranch, Makuya Park, Kruger National Park and Parque Nacional do Limpopo apply to our guests.
  • Trailists depend on the trails guide for their safety and for guidance. For their own safety and that of the other trailists, the instructions of the guide should be obeyed at all times. Failure to co-operate in this respect could lead to the immediate cancellation of the trail.
  • For reasons of safety and sensitivity, excessive consumption of liquor is strongly discouraged. Liquor may only be consumed at the overnight campsites.


  • The Great Limpopo Park is located in a Malaria area.
  • Malaria prophylactics are essential. Tailists should consult their doctor or chemist.


Whilst every endeavour is made to adhere to the trail description set out above, our trails are conducted in remote wilderness areas and occasionally circumstances in the park or prevailing weather conditions, over which we have no control, may arise. We reserve the right to amend the routing, location of campsites, distances travelled etc of any specific trail or trails and the guide’s decision in this regard is final. If this happens on a trail on which you are a participant, we would appreciate your understanding.

Trailists need to be fully self-sufficient with low-range, high-clearance 4×4 vehicles (soft-roaders can’t get through this territory).  Bring your own camping equipment, food and drinks. The lead guide has his own vehicle, and 2-way radios are provided for all vehicles on the trail.