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Hippos’ songs of love and desire

Lower Zambezi, November 2010 | We managed to escape work in Lusaka for a weekend. Initially, we had planned to go to Livingstone Friday afternoon, possibly even to drive down there ourselves, and see the Victoria Falls. I was actually quite looking forward to this, but then there were a number of changes in our programme and a meeting was scheduled Friday afternoon. So we had to settle for a weekend escape closer to Lusaka.

After a 2 hours drive to Lower Zambesi we reach a side river to the Zambesi where we are supposed to be picked up by boat. Standing at the river shores in the early evening in our office clothes (2 blue shirts, one white one) and with ridiculously oversized luggage we feel one with – and perfectly adapted to – the environment, while a family is peacefully washing their dishes in the river.

After a refreshing boat trip and our first contact with hippos, we arrive at our lodge at the Zambezi shores. It is quite an amazing place. The landscape and the Zambesi extending over most of the horizon have a prehistoric feel to it, and we are enjoying the sunset while listening to hippos singing songs of love and desire.

It is tough to get up the next morning at 4.30 for a canoe safari, especially since it is a rainy day. But it turns out to be worth it. Sitting in two relatively shaky canoes, we have an encounter with a lonesome elephant wandering over a small island in the middle of the river, lots of hippos that observe us with fading interest and two guys fishing for tiger-fish. Our guide who turns out to be son of the chief of the village next to the lodge explains that it is now possible again to catch tiger-fishes since the Zambian government has seriously restricted commercial and tourist fishing on the Zambezi.

It is nice to be back on the African continent, even if only for a short while. Listening to the sounds of the jungle in the evening, the magic of the place cradles me into a deep sleep, the deepest I had in a long time. There must be some truth in my sisters theory that the magnetic fields are less strong close to the equator and that one sleeps therefore better over here. Or is it the hippos’ songs?

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