“What do you mean you can’t finish it?” Hope said, presenting me with the last few bites of her chicken-mayo sandwich.
“I’m pretty full,” I said, a rarity for me.
“Come on, just two more bites – Elephants!”
Interesting turn of conversation, I thought. I was just about to respond when she rose to her feet and pointed across the Maramba River to the, “Elephants!”
I followed her outstretched arm to see five pachyderms trudge along the upper banks of the marshy waters. I grabbed Hope’s Nikon and raced down to a better viewing position, noticing that the two bigger ones were going down to the water for a drink.
Since arriving in Livingstone, Zambia, I had seen more wildlife than in the Etosha Pan in Namibia. Hope (an American Peace Corps volunteer I met in Rundu) and I had hitched a ride from the Caprivi Houseboat Safari Lodge, passing zebra and baboons on the way to Maramba River Lodge where I managed to barter a couple of nights stay.
The lodge lies on the banks of the Maramba River, a reed-green tributary of water that connects to the Zambezi River which in turns flows 4 K’s down to the famous Mosi Oa Tunya (more famously known as Victoria Falls, the Silozi name means, ‘The Smoke That Thunders’). On the first night a huge hippo swam down the waters at sunset while baboons squalled in the trees above.
On the morning of the second day two ‘mess-with-me-and-you’re-lunch’ crocodiles were sunning themselves with a third one in the water. It was amazing to see these dinosaurs swim without creating any ripples.
We were camping in a tent even though the posted signs warned of hippos that might enter the grounds at night.
That very night I awoke to my bladder’s call. I unzipped the tent and relieved myself in the adjunct toilets, next to the self-catering kitchenette. I crawled back into the tent, zipped it back up and attempted to resume sleep when something large trampled the bushes outside.
What the..? I thought as loud lip-smacks echoed around as the large something proceeded to munch on the flora outside (or perhaps a misguided guest\staff member?).
Maybe it’s an elephant. But it’s probably a hippo. This thought was confirmed by the hippo bellowing out. It was loud, as though it were whispering in my ear.
I bellowed back with an almost perfect imitation of the beast. I could imagine it raising its head, perhaps a slight tilt to the side, like dogs do when humans seem to act ridiculous to them. It then picked up its legs and scampered off, probably wondering why one of its kin was shaped like a large dome tent.
“I was going to yell at you to stop grinding your teeth,” Hope said the next morning after I told her of the night’s adventures.
And then more elephants arrived to greet the day providing Hope with a black-eye as she walked straight into a roof-support post as she tried to capture the perfect shot.
Wildlife photography is dangerous work.