Map of canoe Trip

Canoe Trip

Chirundu to Mana Pools, part 2


Day 2, 35km

Hippos entering the water Hippos entering the water On the morning of our first full day on the water we were up at dawn. We had some coffee and tea, packed up, and were on our way by 7am. We had heard that this was an easy trip, with very little paddling required, but not for us! We had headwinds throughout the day of 10-15mph, so if you stopped paddling, you stayed still. Even the current wouldn't really pull us forward! To top it off, every time we went around a bend in the river, the wind was stronger and made a lot of waves, which can be tricky in a canoe. No one capsized or anything, but we did take on a lot of water!

On our second day we started seeing lots of animals. There were hippos everywhere. We also saw monkeys in the trees along the river and birds. Mid-morning we had a small herd of bull elephants cross right in front of our canoes.

Elephants crossing the Zambezi Elephants crossing the Zambezi Elephants crossing the Zambezi
The elephants crossed to an island in the middle of the river. We paddled our canoes over to the island, pulled them up on the bank and stopped to watch the elephants for a while. The elephants didn't seem at all bothered by us, so we got pretty close to them.

Close encounter with elephants Close encounter with elephants

Herd of Hippos Bull hippo We watched the elephants graze for about 20 minutes before crossing to the other side of the island, where a large herd of hippos were lazing in the sun. Once they saw us coming, they quickly ran into the water, to safety. Hippos are one of the most dangerous animals in Southern Africa. They only feel safe in deep water, and will go right through a canoe if the canoe comes between them and their safe place. Hippos are very territorial, so when we were crossing a place in the river that Shine knew had a lot of hippos, he would stand up in the canoe and slap his paddle on the water. When he did that as many as 25 heads would come popping out of the water. We tried to stay close to the shore and paddle as far away from those submerged heads as we possibly could. If the hippos were grazing on the shore, we would pull our canoes over and try to scare them into the water before we got to them. We didn't want them go through us on their way in! At one point on the river we came to a hippo that didn't want to leave his grazing place. We had pulled over to the side, and he started coming over to us. Shine yelled at him and waved his arms and the hippo decided that he didn't really want to mess with us.

Hippos submerged on the river It's amazing how closely hippos can pack together in the water!
After seeing the elephants we paddled on for another hour or so and then stopped for lunch. Lunch consisted of a traditional English Breakfast: fried eggs, tomatoes, sausage and bacon with thick toast to soak up all the grease. I made myself a BLT. We lounged in the sun for an hour or so and then packed up and were on our way again. We camped on another island on the evening of the second day. Kirsti took a bucket of water from the river and washed her hair. It sounded like a good idea, so Shawn and I did the same. That water was COLD! That night we sat around and looked at the stars. I brought a guidebook and we identified Scorpio and the Southern Cross. Shawn and I tried taking pictures of the stars, but we had no idea how long to expose the film and we ended up with streaks. They are still pretty good looking, though, and you can make out the southern cross and Scorpio.

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