First, yet again apologies for the time between blogs.
It turns out that having friends and a social life/ work getting busier makes it hard to keep up hobbies. It’s hard being popular, basically.
Anyways, a couple of weekends ago we went for our first Zimbabwe camping trip since getting here nine months ago.
I’ve never been an avid camper, but I definitely enjoy a spot of the old nature, and don’t have a problem with a lack of toilets. Because of this, and the fact that our lives have been quite full of work, I was very much looking forward to getting out of town for a bit…
The only mild concern, of course, was that we were getting out of town and into the national park, where lions roam free, hippos heave out great breaths of air all day (and night it turns out) in the river, and elephant pass silently by in giant herds. The hippos and lions, oddly, I can deal with…but I have had a deathly fear of elephants ever since that adventure with my parents when we first got here (thanks for scarring me mum).
The Friday came, and our friends Dirk and Claire turned up with their cars to pack our stuff. Girls were in one car, boys in the other, with another family to join us later in the day.
Now, when I agreed to go in Claire’s car, I had forgotten about her overly competitive nature, and she instantly made sure we were ‘beating’ the boys. Into the park we drove leading the convoy…almost straight into a HUGE herd of elephant. Claire was glancing at me nervously, since the whole adventure was part of her scheme to introduce me to the wonders of Vic Falls. We crept forward, while her two little ones giggled away in the back. Suddenly, we spotted a massive bull. He was looking right at us and he had just decided we had gone too far. Ears flapping, and trumpeting, he ran at us as we scrambled into reverse- except the boys were behind us and another car behind them so there wasn’t exactly an escape route. THANK THE GOOD LORD those two meters were enough, and the mock charge (which had its proper effect on me) halted, with the bull standing across the road to block us while he gave us a death stare.
We waited until we were given permission to pass, and breathed rather large sighs of relief as the herd moved off. I told Claire I was glad I was with someone who had grown up in the area and knew what she was doing. Claire held out a shaking hand and my confidence evaporated. It wasn’t a great time to ask for a toilet stop, so I didn’t mention how mock elephant charges impact me.
The rest of the trip passed smoothly, except for another mock charge by another ele, which resulted in Claire going into Rally car mode to race us through the danger zone and out into our camp.
We set up camp at a stunning little spot looking out over the Zambezi River, and all of the strain on my heart from the past hour was forgiven. Quinton and Bridget had arrived with their little man Charlie. A fire was roaring, food was cooking and the little ones were playing pretty happily in our little camp circle.
The next morning was unreal. The sun rose with such glory over a misty Zambezi, that I willingly emerged from our tent in all my glory to watch it. I am definitely not a morning person, so my glory was probably quite surprising to some people.
The rest of the day passed too quickly, with the little ones playing in the dirt, climbing trees, and skidding down sandy banks near the river (under the watchful eye of several adults). Then it was time to head home, via another route, in which we saw the back of two eles walking away (SUCH a lovely sight).
Overall, I would call the trip a raging success- we feasted on natural beauty, good company, and the serenity of being out of town. We got massively hooked on camping, and are now planning to get a roof top tent so I can sleep through the night without worrying the hippos are coming for me.
The only hiccough was the mock ele charge, and just the sheer number of elephants on the drive in.
And yet when I asked Bridget how many eles they saw on their drive to camp about an hour after us, the answer was none.
In a moment of weakness that would disappoint every nature-loving, wilderness-camping Zimbabwean on the planet, all that went through my mind was; “some people have all the luck”.