This is a place I recommend! Simon and I decided to get away for the weekend after a pretty full on couple of working weeks – probably more full on for Si than I but I counter that he is used to it. I had been busy doing mammal surveys, driving all over the shop with the workers, taking out tourism reps. Simon had just finished a big mountain bike ride in preparation for a charity fund raising event next year where people will be touring through this area on their bikes. Safe to say we were knackered.
We drove down from Lusaka and got to the camp we were staying at, Kanyemba, in the afternoon. We both could have passed out for 12 hours straight away however forced each other to head out on a boat trip. I had really wanted just one thing out of the trip – elephants – and wow were we rewarded!
The lodge was on an island in the zambezi between Zimbabwe on one side and Zambia on the other. We are taken to the island by boat and even on the way there we saw some elephants grazing in the grasses. So we dropped out bags in our lovely room and headed straight out, enjoying having the boat all to ourselves.
Being the only ones we could dictate the schedule and we were happy to just sit there all afternoon, watching them wade through the water and bush down the reeds, listening to the noises they make as they move around – all the while sipping out beverage (I don’t think I got a photo of Si without a beer in his hand) and generally feeling pretty relaxed, or excited in my case.
We were hosted by a great guy, Brendan, one of your typical thoughtful, considerate, lovely African guys. Luckily for him, and me, with Simon around he didn’t need to open his mouth all night as old chatterbox carried the conversation through the evening. After a three course meal – my stomach didn’t know whether to laugh or cry – we crashed after turning down the offer of an early morning walk around the island and negotiated a somewhat later breakfast time.
After spendiing the day chilling I won great brownie points by ‘allowing’ Simon to go out on a fishing trip, hunting for tiger fish. I was more than happy sitting back watching the world go by and reading the odd page in my book. Until the time came when my bursting bladder and growling stomach outweighed all good will and I insisted we head home. Another lovely meal followed and once again crashed hard into bed – until I was awoken around 1am by a very strange noise.
It sounded like something very large was just outside our hut and reasonably intent on taking down all the foliage around our hut. Luckily it was a full moon night, so picture this:
Full moon light shining down, you stare outside the large window right next to your bed and right there within spitting distance (assuming you’re of the western cowboy spitting calibre) were three huge bull elephants peacefully browsing on the trees. Simon comes and watches with me but the lure of sleep is too great for him and he crashes out quickly. I, of course, am wide awake and wiggling with excitement so I stand and watch until I can see them no longer. I hope back into bed listening to the sounds of the night, which included some excited lions calling, hippos carrying on like old men and baboon alarming – probably because of the lions. Just as I’m falling back to sleep I hear the elephants again. I go outside in our bathroom and watch them over a low wall, it is an incredible experience to see these animals so close by. I very quietly run down and grab Simon out of his comatose state when one elephant decided he wants to eat the tree in the bathroom! I could literally reach out and touch him if I dared. Si is amused at my excitement, but complacency after years of amazing experience sends him back to sleep – well that was my accusation, he just pleads sheer exhaustion.
After such a special experience I am awoken very early adn we head out for an morning canoe up the zambezi. More elephants, some big crocs, hippos and great birdlife great us as we essentially float upriver. Simon and Brendan maintain that they were paddling but I have cause to doubt that naught but steering was going on. Of course given my rowing experience all oars, paddles and other bits of equipment were taken from me which was probably wise otherwise I would have had them working hard. I did contemplate how lovely it would be to row the river until I realised that rowing backwards up a river with imminent collision with hippo and no coxswain was not going to end well.
It was hard to leave and head back to the craziness of Lusaka but I’m pretty sure we will be back (when we can afford it again!).