Friday, September 4, 2015

July 23 - Canoeing & Walking Safari along the Zambezi

Delicious food prepared by the wonderful staff at the Zambezi Sands Lodge
Today the group split into 2 small groups in order to take advantage of the various active options that were presented to us.  One group choose the early morning canoe trip in the band new inflatable kayaks the lodge had just purchased.  Led by a licensed canoe guide they paddled through the channels and small islands along the course of the river as hippos grunted in the distance and crocodiles lazed along the shore.  The birding was excellent as well as the river provided a great habitat for fish eagles and bee eaters.  
Kayaking on the Zambezi River
The other group drove to the escarpment where a series of fresh water springs create a wonderful habitat for birds and other creatures like the rock hopping Klipspringer.  As we traveled up the stream into a canyon we were treated to a great spectacle of 2 large owls being harassed by a Peregrin falcon which was dive bombing the owls hiding place in a tree just above us.  We got some great photos of the falcon as it circled just about 5o feet above our heads trying go get an angle to reach the owl.  This commotion caused a big stir among all the birds in the canyon so we were able to witness quite a chaotic scene of predatory and prey birds in action.  Later we walked back down onto the flats where we walked silently through the bush until we encountered a her of elephants.  It is so exhilarating to be on foot near elephants - there is an element of danger and risk but we had full trust in our professional walking guide, Butch, who is a 25 year veteran of the bush and he expertly guided us downwind around these great creatures.  

The big treat back at the lodge was yummy cheeseburgers and the kids were in heaven as they munched away happily.  After a short siesta we set off on another canoe run which took us through some of the bigger rapids in front of the lodge - in fact, we learned it was a “first descent” as the lodge was new and the had not yet run the inflatable kayaks through this stretch of whitewater.  It was good fun to get jostled around and hit the curling waves which splashed into our faces and soaked us in the refreshingly cool waters.  We stopped at a gorgeous little sandy island covered with reeds and could hear the hippos barking loudly on the other side of the island.  

We weaved our way through the reeds and were soon facing a large hippo just offshore about 40 feet away.  Hippos are quite dangerous so we kept our voices down and enjoyed seeing this big mama up close.  When we got back to the beach we found the boys had been having big fun playing chase and burying one of the kids in the sand completely up to his neck.  The adults enjoyed a cold beer as we took in the rowdy scene - as you can imagine the kids were having a blast!  Later back at the lodge we were treated to a great sundowner spread of appetizers and cold drinks as the sun set across the Zambezi.  

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