By Muriel Romero
Each year, our group of friends choose a new way to explore Africa. We opted this year for discovering wildlife by a waterway tour and when it was time to choose the destination, the Zambezi was at the top of the list.
The Zambezi is a majestic river of 2700 kilometers, that flows through six countries. It is Africa’s fourth largest stream system after the Nile, the Zaire and the Niger, and, as it is less developed than other rivers in terms of human settlement, many areas along its banks enjoy protected status. Along the 500 kilometers that serve as a border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Zambezi has carved the spectacular Victoria Falls and the zigzagging Batoka Gorge, providing a fantastic playground for rafting, kayaking, river boarding and jet boarding.
8:30am – Let’s go !
We start at Karombora area, thirty or so kilometres upstream to Livingstone. We are at the spot at 8:30am. Our group of six people is taken care of by Nasilele and Matthew, our guides for this two day canoe safari. After a briefing, we board our canoes. In this place, the Zambezi is about 600 metres wide. We gently start paddling away from the land, following Nasilele, the leading guide.
After only 15 minutes, we make a detour to avoid a group of hippos, having their bath along the bank, their prominent eyes emerging, observing us attentively. Well, let’s say that I’m not really at ease, but Nasilele and Matthew’s professionalism, and the confidence that they exude, are enough to reassure me.
Our descent continues at a cool pace, allowing us to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the river, while seeing a great variety of birds species, among them being the Half-collared Kingfisher, with his sumptuous blue plumage, the Goliath Heron, and the Cattle Egret…
12:00am – Lunch break at Bovu Island
We stop for lunch on Bovu Island, one of the many islands along Zambezi. It is time to rest in the shade of the trees.
We set off on our way down the river after a two hour break. Our afternoon is marked by very different encounters from an emotional point of view : elephants, crocodiles, zebras, buffalos, hippos, and more… but what is really notable is the feeling of being in a perfect harmony with nature and not feeling like a foreign body but fully part of this natural balance.
4:00pm – Stop at the camp for the evening and the night
Our expedition stops around 16:00 pm at Kubu cabins, well before sunset. Our tents, domes for two people, have been put up around the campfire on the riverfront before our arrival.
7:00pm – Evening and dinner round the fire
The chef has already started cooking the dinner, meat and vegetables prepared on the fire. In the dark of the night, dinner is served. We are pleasantly surprised by the quality of the meal, not that we were expecting poor cooking, but let’s say … more rustic. And what the chef concocted is simply excellent.
Our evening around the fire give us the opportunity to remember and share the outstanding memories from the day, and gives our guides the opportunity to tell us some amazing stories that they have gathered among the dozens of safaris they have done.
Our night is lulled by the permanent concert of the nocturnal inhabitants of the river. It is an unforgettable experience to have the feeling of being a part, for a few hours, of a world so far off from our own.
9:00am – Let’s go for the second day !
Our trip resumes in the morning, around 9:00am and lasts until 11:00am, to which we arrive at Bindi Farm, which marks the end of our 40 kilometres trip along the Zambezi. The feeling that remains of this short trip is a blend of serenity and strong emotions caused by the proximity of the intense wildlife all around us. It is an unforgettable experience that everyone should try!