The day after my hairy encounter with the hippo in the night (read about that scary experience here), we set out for another full day canoeing down the Zambezi. I'm not sure why - maybe I'm just incompetent - but it always seemed to be our canoe that got into trouble. We'd already nearly got our canoe eaten by a hippo on our first day (you can read all about that here) and on the second day we had another issue.
It was midday and time for a lunch break. We were all to pull up on a nice sandy area by the side of the river. Shortly after the sandy bank was a strong current and chilling within this strong area of river was a hippo family. The idea was that we all had to paddle to the bank long before the channel of rapids and if you didn't do it in time, well you were washed downstream into the hippos. Yikes!
We watched as every other canoe managed to get to shore safely without any issues. It was then our turn but somehow we had drifted and were already parallel with the rapids by the beach. I could feel the boat being dragged towards them.
"Paddle! Paddle!" Everyone was shouting.
I paddled as fast as I could but my energy was quickly draining. It was a real struggle to fight against the ever-increasing current. I could tell my canoe-mates were also struggling. There was a brief moment when I was sure we were going to get dragged away as no matter how hard we tried, the bank just seemed to be getting further and further away. Is this how it ends? I thought. I'd already escaped being eaten by a hippo twice, I could escape a third time! Somehow we managed to summon the energy and slowly bur surely the shore was getting ever closer. Finally, after what seemed like a lifetime, our canoe collided with the sand and letting out a huge sigh of relief, I collapsed onto the bank - alive! I was sure grateful for my yummy lunch.
Whilst we ate our lunch in the sand, the bushes further down-stream parted and a giant elephant walked onto the sand. We watched in awe as another followed. The elephants didn't hesitate as they stepped into the river and sure-footedly began to wade across, through the rough waters. The hippos watched on, flapping their ears and bellowing in contentment, clearly unphased by the elephant crossing.
After lunch, we continued our journey down the Zambezi. We eventually stopped off at our second campsite which was on a sandy bank at the edge of the bush. This one seemed to be not as much to the liking of the hippos as the last one and I let out a sigh of relief. Fortunately, I actually managed to make it through the night without needing a toilet break. Maybe my body had decided that last night was just too much for it.
Whilst lying in my tent that night, the sounds of the bush at night kept me awake for a while. I heard a high-pitched chirp, one that I recognised from nature documentaries. Hyena. Another joined it and another. I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end as I heard their mesmerising cries. It sounded like they were coming from the other side of the river, though not too far away.
Later on, I heard an even more impressive call - the gruff roar of a lion. It was beautiful - one of the best things I had ever heard and it sure didn't fail to disappoint. I lay awake listening to the hyenas and lions for a while before their beautiful songs eventually lulled me off to sleep.