Hungry, hungry hippos

Justifiably concerned before paddling

(Emma) Since it contains hippos, crocodiles and the occasional elephant, it is perfectly natural to be afraid of going anywhere near the Zambezi River. So, one might say it is insane to go canoeing on the river, but that didn’t stop us. Alex, Andrew and Reis were all too afraid of death, so they passed on the opportunity. We boarded the canoes and said goodbye to the intelligent family members remaining on land. Luckily, I was in a canoe with our guide, Fausto, which made me feel the most secure, considering he is the only one who has had experience with hippos and crocs on the water… and because he was carrying a revolver in case of a dire situation!

I'm not worried, do I look worried?

As frightened as I was throughout the excursion I did get to appreciate the beauty. It was that late afternoon hour when the golden light illuminates the surrounding land. When I looked to the right I could see Zimbabwe and when I turned my head 180 degrees Zambia was right there. We paddled through small islands and maneuvered around dead logs that floated downstream. I couldn’t imagine anything more peaceful and serene, but nature proved that it could get better. We came across a herd of four female elephants eating and drinking right at the edge of the bank. We passed right by them and they couldn’t be bothered by our presence. This confirmed elephants are my favorite animal.

She seems even bigger from water level

We paddled (and floated) down the river as the sun began to set. I closed my eyes to enjoy the tranquility, then “PFFFFFFFFF” This was the warning call of the hippo. The hippos make this noise when they feel their space is being intruded, or they feel threatened. Fausto told us to paddle faster and try to avoid the territory of this hippo. My heart started to beat faster and I began to wonder if this was the end of me. I pushed that thought out of my head, realizing how ridiculous it was, and paddled more rapidly than before. We were then informed that we passed the hippo’s territory and I could stop my aggressive paddling. Although watching the sun set over the Zambian escarpment from the perspective of the water may have been one of the more gorgeous things I have seen in my life; I was relieved and thankful to step onto solid ground alive.

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