We started in Zimbabwe in Victoria Falls, we stayed at a fenced in camp site in traditional round houses. Helena my niece and I shared a room and my son Jono had a room to himself. On our first day I watched my son jump off a bridge and survive (bungy jumping 111 metres to the river/rocks below). At this point I want to point out, if you have never been to Africa, they have absolutely no concept of “work place health and safety”. Prior to Jono jumping off Victoria Bridge they marched us off into the bush, and as we came around a bend in the path we saw a tent hidden away from the road. At first we are wondering what the hell was going on. You know thoughts of being marched off to your death runs through your mind, and then when we get there they make Jono sign an ‘indemnity waiver’. Jono gets back to the bridge and gets out on the ledge, the guy running the show asks Jono “do you trusts me” Ha. They tie his feet together and tell him to hop forward to the very edge of the ledge. He tells him to be brave and look out at the horizon and enjoy the ride down. Then he counts 5 -4- 3- 2- 1 BUNGIEEEE. Jono dives out into the abyss, I can hear him yelling out as he goes down, and it is the ride of his life.
The next day we go white water rafting on one of the most dangerous rivers in the world, see my previous blog for that ride, here we go we have started our adventure. We are leaving Zim and are heading to Zambia in a huge truck that has only 5 passengers. Due to the political situation in Zimbabwe at this time there are only 5 people brave enough to go on this tour, governments have recommended to limit travel in this country at this time. We are heading to South Luangwa National Park in Zambia, as we drive into the blazing African sun, the horizon encompasses the full front window of the truck. We are travelling along red dirt roads that are totally corrugated. It is jarring and ends up being painful after hours of driving, Africans call this a massage.
We arrive at our campsite its called “Flatdogs” that is the term for crocodile in Africa. All the tent sites are built up in the trees away from the wild life. However there is a flaw in this plan, our tents are too big for the platforms. So they give us the option we can sleep in the truck or we can pitch our tents on the ground like you would normally. We just pitch our tents like normal people do, I mean what can go wrong right. The other two people travelling with us opted for to sleep in the truck. Our guides have cabins to sleep in although they are greeted by a snake when they first go in.
We take a bit of a tour around camp to see where everything is. Amenities building, bar, swimming pool and the river. We go kill some time at the swimming pool with a few cold drinks, check out the internet access the usual stuff. That night we go to the bar for dinner and a few more drinks, the meal is nice the company is great. I decide to leave early as I am tired, I head to bed in the tent I am sharing with Helena. Later that night I hear Helena come in and I go back to sleep, then in the early hours of the morning those beers I had with dinner came back and tell me I needed to go to the bathroom.
Mmmmmm yes the bathroom, now where was that again, we had been told if we wanted to go anywhere during the night that there were guards with guns that would escort us. During the day the toilet block seemed like it was just there beside the tent, but now in the middle of the night I realised it was a long way away. Where were, those guards anyway, how was I supposed to find them in the dark if I wasn’t allowed to leave my tent. Then I remembered a temporary toilet that was just a hole in the ground with a tarp strung around four posts. It was literally just 5 metres from our tent. I decided that was where I was going to go, I would sneak out and pee and be back before you could say “lion attack”.
So very quietly I rummage around and find the toilet paper and I unzip the tent, I stand up and wait for my eyes to adjust. It is very dark in the African bush, then I see these silver glowing disks, my heart stops, I have no idea what it is. My heart starts pounding painfully in my chest I can hear it in my ears, it is roaring. I look to the left and there are more silver disks, my right is also blocked with these horrible silver glowing disks.
After about 30 seconds I realise what I am looking at, hippo’s I am surrounded by hippopotami there must be at least a dozen maybe more. I realise they have come up from the river during the night to feed on the flowers that are dropping from the trees. The trees we should have been sleeping in, not under this is why the tent are up in the trees. I slowly edge my way backwards into the tent, I know how dangerous these animals are. I am then squatting in my tent thinking to myself “I need to pee, I need to pee, I need to pee”. Well I thought I was thinking it, I was actually talking in a whisper and Helena pipes up with a ‘so do I’. I filled her in on the situation, she stuck her head out and agrees that the toilet was out of the question. This did not solve the immediate problem however, so I decided we had to risk it. It took a little bit to convince her but what else was there I was not going to pee in the tent.
So we unzipped the tent and edged our way down the side of our tent. When we got to the back of the tent I told her to face one way and I would face the other this was not for privacy but for safety. She was to watch for hippos in that direction and I would watch for them in this direction. It was the fastest I have ever peed in my entire life. We snuck back into the tent and then we sat and watched the hippos for a while through the window in the side of our tent. I mean this was an up close and personal encounter with the most dangerous animal in Africa, later we could hear them brushing up against the side of our tent. TIA (this is Africa).
You never feel more alive than when you are scared to death!