Date: 28 April to 2 May 2011
Location: Royal Zambezi Lodge, in the Lower Zambezi Valley, Zambia
Walkers: Helen, Dorothy, Dom and the gang, plus our guides
For more about my trip to Zambia see here.
During our stay at Royal we made several excursion by boat, out onto the mighty Zambezi river. Our first one was on the day of our arrival: a late afternoon boat cruise upriver.
It was fantastic to be out on the water. The river is wide, with many islands, sandbanks and channels. The water flows steadily and seems clean and clear. A natural unspoilt paradise.
We were thrilled to see our first hippos, but soon became blasé about them. There are hundreds (probably thousands) of them in the river, and we got quite used to hearing their funny grunts and bellows and seeing their faces appear above and then disappear below the surface of the water. They seem to keep away from boats but are often visible in the distance.
Elephants are a common sight along the river too. This young fellow was completely unperturbed by our presence and continued to munch grass as we went past his island.
Our guide pointed out things of interest along the way.
A big crocodile! As soon as we got to close he slipped down into the water. These guys are the reason it is not safe to swim in the river.
We approached a sandy beach in the middle of the river. After our guide declared it safe - too shallow for crocs - we alighted.
Here we spent a pleasant hour strolling around, chatting, having drinks...
... and watching the sun set. What a great start to our holiday!
The next morning we were up early for a fishing expedition. The thing to catch on the Zambezi is tiger-fish, and even though the season was almost over, we decided to give it a try.
We headed downriver. First we had to catch bait fish. Using worms and fishing close to the bank we caught several little chessa.
Then we headed out to deeper waters and baited our hooks with chunks of chessa fish - and by 'we' I mean fishing guide extraordinaire, Shadrack. As a complete fishing novice I even needed help at every stage of the process.
Beginner's luck... I caught the first tiger-fish. Two pounds. Very exciting!
I got a good look at his teeth before he was released back into the water.
I had no idea fishing was such fun.
There was also wildlife to be seen on the banks. Elephant!
And another huge croc basking in the sun. They give me the creeps.
The river had flooded a couple of months before and we could see how high the water had reached. A jetty at the lodge had been washed away, and there was still quite a lot of tree debris to be seen in the water.
The trees on the banks were so big. I think this is a winterthorn acacia.
And a fish eagle.
After several hours of successful fishing it was time to head back.
A couple of days later we headed out for a second tiger-fishing jaunt. This time it was a cloudy morning with a bit of a breeze.
Once again, we fished for chessa first.
I also caught two tiny little tiger-fish!
Once we had our bait we cruised upriver, passing the lodge.
As usual, we saw hippos and elephants along the way.
And we put our lines in for big tiger-fish and waited... and waited. We tried several places but they we were simply not biting that morning. Boo.
On our last afternoon we decided to go on one last fishing expedition, but this time we were after bream, caught from land, in the quiet shallows.
After landing on an island, we lugged our stuff to a suitable spot, baited our hooks with worms, and cast our lines into the river.
This was very enjoyable and easy fishing. We all caught.
But Suz and Ash were the undisputed 'bream queens'. Go girls!
What a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.
We fished til it was almost dark, then headed back to the lodge, where the cook prepared our bream for supper. Lightly battered, with a delicious dipping sauce. Yum!