Monday, November 1, 2010

On the banks of the Great Zambezi

I have to admit it, when our 1time flight started the descent and we flew over the Victoria Falls, I got a bit teary-eyed. I'm in Africa now, I couldn't help but think, though that's a bit rich coming from me since I'm an African. Cape Town seems to exist in its own bubble and I've always maintained the Mother City isn't Africa.

At time of blogging, we've just had breakfast on the deck of the Royal Chundu Zambezi River Lodge. We look out over the mighty river, its waters a ochre-cobalt, for lack of better description, at the riverine acacia forests in Zimbabwe across the way. Last night we went on a river cruise, not expecting to see much but our sightings included about a dozen elephant, countless birds (including endangered African skimmers, open-billed storks, African fish eagles, giant kingfishers, giant egrets and more). A lazy crocodile basked with his maw gaping. A monitor crawled with his peculiar reptilian sway through the long grass. Broad-billed rollers scolded in the waterberries.

Warthogs came down to graze on the flood plain where the grass is greenest, chacma baboons keeping out a sharp eye for predators while bushbuck warily picked their way to the water's edge. Kudu, the grey ghosts of the bushveld, remained in the thorny thickets... The lodge doesn't bill its activities as Big Five adventures but hell, this place is teaming with wildlife.

Life of the insect kind is in abundance. Lodge manager Werner told me the kamakazi hawk moths are called pismotte (too rude for me to translate into English) but after the nth moth tried to adhere to my hair or vanish down the front of my top, I stated losing interest in this phenomenon and started seeing the insects for their nuisance value.

The tree frog that had staked out the top of a picture frame in the large, open-air lounge was a cause for fascination. He stared at me with his bug-eyes and gulped wetly, obviously on the lookout for mozzies.

Ah, yes... the mozzies. Stocked up on anti-Malaria pills (yay for nausea) we were nonetheless grateful for the mosquito net covering our bed.

This morning while enjoying my coffee on the deck, I found a huge, delicate moth that looks like a dried leaf when its wings are closed.

Bulbuls scolded me this morning while I walked to the lounge area. Saw yellowbellied bulbuls as well as the black-eyed kind. Birdwatcher's paradise indeed.

Last night during the boma dinner, some of the orphaned kids from the neighbouring village performed their dances for us. Much less aggressive (and far more sensual) than South African Zulu or Xhosa dancing, these youngsters almost made me blush. But mutual love seems a bigger item on the agenda between Zambia's many tribes, who appear to do a better job of getting on with each other than the South Africans. We could take a leaf from their book.

Just to make you jealous, our activities for today include a visit to the local village, a canoeing expedition down the Zambezi rapids (I'm crazy but I'm going to do this thing) and a fishing trip. I'm planning on catching a feared tiger fish.

A nice touch last night was the huge bunch of roses that appeared in our chalet. Thomas and I are celebrating our 10th anniversary and as luck would have this visit happening at the same time. Another small touch that made me smile was that management found me a tiny bone carving of Nyami-Nyami, the ancient Zambezi river god, who has a head like a fish and the body of a snake.

It's doubtful whether we'll have internet connection before we return to SA as tonight we're sleeping at a private island covered in baobabs and ancient jackalberry trees. For now I'm just smiling and enjoying the breeze cooling the air off the mighty Zambezi.


  1. Are you TRYING to make me jealous. Have fun, Nerine. Pot a hawk moth for me with your elefant gun and bring me back its head so I can stuff and mount it.
    Actually, we've got hawk moths here in oz too, but they aren't naughty voyeurs like yours.

  2. The ochre-cobalt Zambezi is clearly more impressive than the grey-green-greasy Limpopo.

  3. I was wondering when someone was going to pull out a line from Kipling.