Zambia (2): Day Five : Baines' River Camp to Chongwe River Camp
The following morning we took the opportunity for a brief walk in the countryside around the camp (not having reached the actual Lower Zambezi National Park as yet), after taking a short drive to reach some open countryside. As usual we were accompanied by an armed scout and a ‘teaboy’, carrying drinks ().
We then continued on down the river towards Chongwe River Camp. Along the way we saw the most amazing sight of a pride of lions sunning themselves on the river bank to our left (). They couldn’t have looked more relaxed, with the exception of just one, who either took more of an interest in the passing traffic, or had simply been appointed to keep watch ().
Chongwe’s location is slightly different to the remainder of the camps, in that it is located on a tributary of the main river, a very short distance up from the junction (). This gives the opportunity to take canoe and fishing trips up the side channel, as well as out on the main river.
One of the other different features of the camp used to be its resident impala, Silky (), who was extremely tame. Remarkably she left the camp on one occasion, in order to give birth, but returned afterwards to take up her residence again.
The camp is located still in the Game Management Area outside the Park itself, but with ready access into the Park. In the late afternoon we took a game drive into the Park, and were rewarded by the extremely rare sighting of a pack of wild dogs (). We were able to get up quite close to them, as they sheltered in the shade of a tree, and we simply parked up and watched them for a long time, a uniquely rewarding experience ().
After dinner we took an early night, not realising that the day still wasn’t over! Our large walk-in safari tent was erected just below a winter thorn tree, whose fruit is beloved of elephants. In the middle of the night a large bull decided to ram this tree hard in order to dislodge these. Hence I was abruptly woken to what sounded just like a barrel of gravel being thrown on top of the tented roof.
I soon realised what the cause was, since I could hear the elephant munching away, belching and farting, just outside the tent wall. I decided to unzip one of the ‘window panels’ to take a look at our visitor, shining my torch out through the mesh panel that was the only thing separating me from the elephant about two feet away.
However I couldn’t see anything at all, however much I swung the beam around. I then realised that I ought to be able to see something – grass, other trees, the night sky and so on. All that I could see was a grey wall, which, on angling the torch upwards at a considerable angle, I realised was the elephant itself. Although reluctant to shine the torch directly into its face, I did manage to take a mental note of how far up the tree it reached (discovered the following day to be over 11 feet).
Jack then woke up, needing to take a leak, but, remembering when he had been in the bathroom on a similar quest during the afternoon, and an elephant trunk had appeared over the (outside, open) bathroom wall, he headed for the front flap of the tent with the intention of going outside instead. Not a good idea!
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