Upper Zambezi Canoe Safari

14 November 2016

Upper Zambezi Canoeing

Upper Zambezi Canoeing

This last weekend I had the good fortune to overnight in Zambezi National Park, along with my eldest daughter and a bunch of her mates on a canoe Safari organised through Wild Horizons, the leading adventure outfitter in Victoria Falls.

Eight twelve years old’s, four parents and the Wild Horizons guides, lead by Fanwell set off from 310 Parkway on Saturday afternoon for Zambezi National Park,  a couple of kilometers upstream of the Falls. The drive to the overnight camping site winds it’s way through Zambezi National park, following the the river and has to be one of the most scenic drives in Africa.

The Zambezi river, studded with islands and fringed with evergreen tree’s offers a refreshing sight from the inland bush, which at the end of the dry season is all grey’s and browns.  Exceptional game viewing along the way is guaranteed, the cool waters of the Zambezi being the only drinking water available to wildlife for miles.

On arrival at the camp, walk in tents were already pitched and waiting for our overnight gear, a quick brief by Fanwell pointed out the necessities: Communal flush toilet and bucket showers, ice box full of bottled water, soft drinks and beers.

Canoe Camp

Canoe Camp

The kids spent the sunset playing on the pristine ‘beach’ below camp, forgoing any thoughts of a shower. Adults enjoyed the magnificent views of the Zambezi, supping ice cold Gin and Tonic whilst keeping an eye on the antics of the kids below us.

View from Camp

View from Camp

Dinner was served under the canopy of the Jackal Berry tree’s with an almost full moon lighting the scene,  making the subdued lights of the candles seem superfluous.  An incredible three course dinner followed,  cooked over an open fire by the chef, accompanied by the bush symphony: hippo, nocturnal birds and the distant calls of hyena and lion.

A night cap around the fire was interrupted by an elephant bull that silently glided within twenty yards of the camp fire , clearly visible in the moonlight, paying no attention to a satiated group of folks, drifting off into the night as quietly as he had arrived.

The following morning, the ever efficient camp staff had  hot water for tea and coffee laid out before sunrise, thereafter serving a full blow out English breakfast.

Hippo

Hippo

Fanwell rounded up an excitable, if somewhat apprehensive group of kids and adults for a pre canoe safety talk. Calmly he explained any potential dangers and hazards that could be encountered, the what to do/not to do’s and then answered the kids detailed questions which came fast and furiously. Each inflatable canoe, had a an adult and one child, which were surprisingly comfortable, easy to maneuver, light weight and practically unsinkable.

Safety Talk

Safety Talk

Thereafter we set off down the Zambezi, with a pleasant tail wind and the river current doing most of the ‘work’ for us. Fanwell in the lead navigated the group through a couple of minor, but hugely exciting rapids, past the resident hippo herds, always in tune with the river, respectful, calm and clearly in his element.

As always with a group of kids, there was the obligatory water fights, but as the morning wore on one was able to soak up the unsurpassed beauty and tranquility of the Zambezi, the mile wide river, which is at it’s lowest ebb at this time of the year, often fans out into a myriad of narrow channels, with the banks fringed with lush tropical vegetation, spectacular wildlife and a bird check list to die for.

Canoeing

Canoeing

Halfway through the trip Fanwell found us a sand bank, with crystal clear water two foot deep and about one hundred yards long where we could all take a cooler in the river. The kids went ballistic and soon had a game of touch rugby on the go. Adults happy to enjoy the cool water and keep a lazy eye out for any unwanted guests in the form of crocodiles, which although present were denied any access to a snack by the clear visibility of the water and shallow depth.

Zambezi Swim

Zambezi Swim

Refreshed we continued our journey, floating serenely at most times and then bobbing about for brief adrenaline filled moments in the rapids. There is something intrinsically exciting and rewarding about doing something so close to nature, with an added element of perceived danger that makes a trip like this an everlasting memory to be treasured.

The end rushed in far to quickly, the camp crew met us below hippo creek with a fabulous lunch and ice cold drinks.

Ten minutes later I was back home, where I found myself competing with my daughter in the telling of our adventures to the rest of the family.

See link below for video.

https://www.facebook.com/WildHorizons1/videos/10154122341307339/

John Nicholson

 

 

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