From Livingstone and the Victoria Falls we set out to reach Africa’s fourth-longest river near Chirundu where we set camp at Zambezi Breezers. The ride of a couple of hours was through a lush, green landscape which looked mainly like farmland. However, for the whole time is was pooring down rain in buckets and buckets and buckets. Everything became a river around us and at time it was nearly impossible to see through the rain. How are we going to canoe six days in this weather?
Since there is no bus all the way to Zambezi Breezers we had to hitchhike the rest of the way. Luckily, we found someone who brough us all the way. And so after paying off some cops along the road (a common practice to drive fast and undisturbed) we quickly arrived at the campground from where we would be setting out the next day. At night we drove to the next city at the border of Zimbabwe with one of the canoe guides (he had a friend at the border and so he could easily cross to get fuel which happens to be much cheaper on the Zim side). Meanwhile, we were hanging out at a local bar with another friend of the guide for a couple of beers. This was a very interesting guy with some hilarious stories – unfortunately too many and too long to recite here. We bought beers for the next days and had a couple of fried chicken heads and then we went back to the camp.
In the middle of the night, as we slept on a big area of grass right next to the river, I woke up and heard loud chewing outside of our tent. At first I didnt think much of it, but since the tent door was open I had a look and saw three big, dark outlines of some animal. Slowly it damned on me that these were in fact hippos, big, fat hippos, each one bigger than our tent just grazing 2-3 meters next to us. So naturally I started thinking of what Gab had been telling me for the last couple of days: “Hippos are dangerous, it’s the animal that kills the most people in Africa”. With that though I was instantly relieved, so much so that my hearth pretty much stopped when they came another meter closer. Too afraid to wake up Gab to enjoy the spectacle with me, I just laid there and tried not too breeth too much. Soon enough they headed on to greener grass.
One the first day of the canoe trip we took a motor boat to the lunch spot where we saw a big, happy family of elephants and later boarded the canoes.
Futher down the river we met some friends of our visitors from last night again. However, this time they were afraid of us and jumped into the water to get away.
Crocodiles were also relaxing at the edge of the river and watching us pass by.
Then we spotted a big, lonely elephant on one of the small river islands. The guides thought it was a good idea to get closer, Gab would later disagree that this was a good decision.
So we all brought our canoes close together and headed towards the shore of the island. We landed there side by side with the guides on the outside. They navigated us closer and closer towards the elephant until it felt like we could look him right into the eyes. Then, a move of the paddles triggered him and he started charging towards us. It was quite intimidating and we were quite sure that he would crumble our fragile canoes. The guides just kept urging us to be quite and stay together. And since we looked like one big thing to the elephant due to his bad eyesight, luckily for us it seemed as if he didnt want to risk to physically attack us after all.
After all this excitement it was time to set up camp on one of the island, enjoy some good dinner and cold beers and relax while darkness was swollowing the land around us.