Map of canoe Trip

Canoe Trip

Chirundu to Mana Pools, part 3


Day 3, 22km

Shawn in canoe Shine and Katie Famous Elephant

When we started out our trip the mountains you can see here behind Shawn were very, very far away. Today, we passed them! We spent a lot of time paddling through rivulets that traversed marshes in the middle of the river. We even ran into the famous elephant "Toothpick" peacefully grazing in a marsh island in the middle of the river.
Cape Buffalo Cape Buffalo running
We saw Cape Buffalo-one of the five most dangerous animals in Africa. The "BIG FIVE" as they are called are the elephant, the cape buffalo, the rhino, the lion and the leopard. We heard one story about a cape buffalo that was injured by a hunter. The buffalo led him on a wild goose chase for several hours before circling back on the hunter and goring him. Not a nice animal to run into. Graham found this out first hand on our third morning. He decided to take a jog while we were waiting for Laurel and Kirsti to get ready to leave. He ran off in the direction of a clump of bushes. He disappeared behind the thicket for a few moments, and then reappeared, running even faster than before. Apparently there was a buffalo behind the thicket who didn't take kindly to having his nap interrupted. Graham didn't try jogging anymore after that.

Water bucks Heron in the rushes
We also saw water bucks, impala, and lots of birds, such as the kingfisher, who I managed to capture here in a dive. Most of the pictures here were taken by Sheri in a rocking canoe, so be impressed that they aren't all blurry.

Kingfisher We stopped at another island for lunch that day. Despite her sun-proof clothes, sun block and hat, Kirsti had a pretty bad burn on her nose and wanted to get out of the sun for a while, so we rigged up a sun shelter from canoe paddles and tarps. While they were resting, Susan, Graham, Shawn and I walked to the other side of the island where a temporary fishing village had been set up. The people there were very friendly. We noticed a series of parallel tracks crossing the island. They looked almost like wagon tracks, only they were the size of a baby carriage. We asked Shine what they were, and he said that they were Hippo tracks. Hippos are the only animal that make parallel tracks: most paths only have one rut. Hippos leave the water every night looking for food, travelling as far as 20km from the water. They like to take the same path every night, hence the deep tracks.

We camped at a REAL campsite on the third night. We all got to take a bush shower, and Shine cooked steaks and sadza for dinner. Sadza is a traditional Zimbabwean food made from hominy. Katie loved them. I told her that she could make them at home...they're just gritz made to the thickness of mashed potatoes. I found them rather tasteless, but served with sauce sadza is pretty good. That night, we had elephants walking around the camp looking for free handouts. It is illegal to bring fresh fruit into Mana Pools National Park. The elephants can smell it even in a locked car, and we heard a story of a nice car being turned into scrap by an elephant that smelled the oranges in the trunk.

Schoolchildren and school in Zambia Zambian Village

Ferry Early the next morning we got back in the safari vehicle for the four hour drive through Zambia back to Kariba. The road was very rough in the beginning, but we got to see some nice wildlife, such as impala, warthogs, and baboons. We passed through several villages, where Shine passed out the two loaves of bread we hadn't eaten on our trip. The people were very happy to see us, and the children stared. For Graham, a transportation economist at the World Bank, the most exciting part of the day was crossing a river on a ferry (see right). We all helped to pull the cable that transported us across the river.

Upon arriving back in Kariba we sorted our gear and parted ways with Shawn's family. Shawn and I went to the local marina to take a boat across Lake Kariba to Matusadona National Park. Graham, Katie and Susan had already been in Africa for three weeks and were headed back to the states. Kirsti had also been in Africa for a month, but was planning on spending a year travelling around the world, so was taking Laurel with her on a month-long Guerba truck trip ending in Nairobi. Kirsti traveled in Zimbabwe for less than $25/day and I hope to get some notes from her on this site soon.

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