29 April, 2013

Zambia {Day 4 - Canoeing along the Zambezi river}

I think this might just be the most beautiful day I've ever had. 

We left Kiambi lodge early in the morning and spent the day canoeing down the Zambezi river, just us two and our guide, Jealous (yes that really was his name!). We covered a total of about 20km (!) and then camped overnight at a quiet spot downstream. 

I was absolutely overwhelmed by how pervasive nature is in Zambia, and in this area especially. There was just so much of it and it was so undisturbed. I think it's the only country I've visited where the strength of the natural world is immediately tangible; humans just fit in around everything else, rather than it being the other way around.

^^Keen beans ready to go!^^

^^Even the sand here was beautiful - it had tiny crystals of mica in it so it literally glittered! ^^

We stopped for lunch on a little island...

Then had a little post-lunch snooze...

^^I mean seriously, this sky doesn't even look real does it!^^

Before long we were back in our canoes and, sated by food, we were much quieter than in the morning. Occasionally we would talk, to coordinate our rowing strokes or to ask Jealous about a certain bird or other creature, but mostly we rowed in compatible silence; the only sound being our oars rippling the water. 

It wasn't always as peaceful as it sounds though, as the Zambezi is infested with animals that you definitely don't want to crash into! We were dodging hippos and crocs here there and everywhere and so had to be completely focused on the river ahead. We did have a close shave with a hippo at one point but thankfully our little arms moved fast enough to row us to safety. In my mind, hippos were docile, harmless creatures (perhaps because I'd only ever seen them in cartoons) but apparently not!

Later on in the afternoon, we met an energetic group of male elephants and were not only lucky enough to see them crossing the river, but they also played in the water in front of us! It was the most amazing thing to witness; we were so close but they didn't seem to mind and we didn't feel threatened at all.

I experimented with the panoramic setting on my camera... 

And we just carried on rowing and rowing...

Then at last... we arrived at our campsite! A second guide had gone on ahead and set everything up for us, so it was all ready when we arrived and, even though it might not look like much now, it was heaven in our eyes by that point! We even had a "bush shower" set up, hidden amongst the trees but facing the river (there's definitely something liberating about showering outdoors isn't there)!

Once again, after dinner and some time spent staring at the stars, we pretty much went straight to bed. Kat and I read in our tent, under a solar-powered lamp, whilst our guides chatted for hours outside, under the moonlight. The tent was actually very comfortable but we did wake up at one point to some noise outside; we cautiously elephants but couldn't see any so it must have just been monkeys!

What a day.

1 comment :