Canoe Safari on the Mighty Zambezi (Day 4, 5 & 6)

Every day along the Zambezi we were beating our previous canoeing record. Days 4 to 6 were the most exhausting of all, canoeing 30-45km a day, but the scenery was the most beautiful we had seen on this trip. Reaching day 4, the Zambezi river was at its widest and by day 5 we had reached the mouth of the river, slowly turning into an impressive canyon, surrounded by mountains covered with thousands of young baobab trees. So much that playing “spot the baobab” quickly seemed rather unchallenging!

Along the way, we met a small hippo family. How cute is that baby hippo?

We were also very impressed by our guide Sibi who seemed to know the answers to all questions. With his 22 years of experience as a guide, he knows everything that there is to know about wildlife, bug bites, trees, star constellations … you name it. He also chose really nice spots for us to set camp. Like this night where we slept on the top of a sand dune and enjoyed this impressive sunrise in the morning:

And off we left again for another big day of canoeing! Along the way, we saw a group of antilopes running away and a loud roaring sound in the background. Naturally, our fearless guide Sibi wanted us to stop the canoes in case we’d be lucky enough to see lions hunting in bright daylight (they usually hunt at night). After a while, Sibi and Ant got tired of waiting and went by foot in the bush to see if they could catch a glimpse of the lion. Chris and I wisely decided not to follow. They came back with a large grin on their face … they had seen the lion!

Here is Sibi on the left with Best, our cook, carefully screening the horizon for potential wildlife during our lunch break:

After more than 170 km and 6 days of canoeing, we reached the border of Mozambique. Below are some pictures of our last day. Have a look at our happy victory “paddles-up” moment as we were on our last km towards the end of our canoeing trip.

Our 6 days canoeing trip ended at the small village of Luangwa, right before the border of Mozambique. A truck was waiting for us there and we packed the canoes with the help of many curious villagers.

Sibi and the crew were going back to Lusaka to drop off the canoes but we decided it was best for us to get off at the intersection of the D145/T4 highway (Great East Road) as we wanted to hitch a ride towards Malawi. We said goodbye to our friends and waited a few hours in the dreadful sun before getting on a bus that brought us to the border town of Chipata. Unfortunately for us, the bus got a flat tire on the way… TIA (This is Africa)! The way to deal with this was obviously to pull up that one wheel and keep going with the remaining 5. By the time we reached Chipata, it was dark outside so we figured it was best to sleep in town and leave to cross the border in the early morning for Lilongwe, Malawi. We had a very friendly french host at the Dean’s Hill Viewlodge Hostel who had lived in Malawi for a few years. We had a great meal and he then gave us truly helpful tips and recommendations for the following days.

P.S. Here is the promotional video of our 6 days canoeing trip with River Horse Safaris. Can you spot Chris & I? 🙂

Video credits to Paul Hulston.