I could hardly contain my excitement on hearing that I would be staying at Rhino Camp on the shores of Lake Kariba, a fantastic bush lodge that offers the perfect combination of back to nature with just the right amount of nurture. Kariba is one of the largest manmade lakes in the world that is fed by the wild waters of the mighty Zambezi river and forms part of the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia.
My Kariba adventure began aboard the superb Houseboat ‘Umbozha’ where the fantastic food and service perfectly complimented the most incredible setting as the waters of the lake glided by. One of the many activities offered is a water based safari on the smaller tender boats allowing you to penetrate the shallower waters in the narrow channels all around the lake. Sat on one such boat with a cold can of Zambezi beer in my hand I watched as elephants came to the shoreline to drink whilst the cry of the African fish eagle pierced the air. We slide silently through the waters with only the ghostly silhouettes of the petrified trees puncturing the otherwise mirror-like surface…what must have once have been a lush forest now stands like silent sentries all along the shoreline.
We began our journey towards Rhino Island as the sun dropped ever closer towards the surface of the lake creating long shadows on the water. Our approach to the landing point gave us an idea for what is in store, there is no jetty just a beautiful rustic beach with an army of petrified trees in the shallows and the thick green bush to the rear. Our captain does an admirable job of navigating through the shallows with the aid of a spotter at the front of the boat to alert him to any submerged trees…..the beach is in sight just as we run aground! Surely they aren’t going to ask us to wade ashore..not after all the tales of crocodiles? That is exactly what we do with the setting sun at our back we tentatively make our way through the shallows and on to the beach with the assistance of the fantastic camp staff. We are greeted with warm smiles and led towards a row of chairs arranged facing the water and the setting sun beyond. Now armed with a gin & tonic, we wait for what is promising to be what I now know is the classic Kariba sunset.
I have been very lucky to sit through a number of wonderful sunsets and many of them in Africa but on this occasion, in this very special place, all the elements combined perfectly to create the most wonderful backdrop to the sun’s dying rays. A silence descended as I sat along with my travelling companions and contemplated all that is good in my life and how very fortunate I am to have moments like this. Sometimes a moment feels like a lifetime and it was in such a moment I became aware of a crashing noise in the bushes behind us and snapped back into reality to see the outline of a large elephant making himself known….yet another reminder we are in the bush and no longer king of our jungle. We swiftly gathered our things under the expert guidance of our hosts and made a retreat to the main camp leaving our new friend to enjoy the last of the sunset.
Still on a high from the awesomeness of nature in all its burning glory and the reminder that we are all guests here in the bush, we make our way to our accommodation for the night. My room is raised on stilts and made of wood with a thatch roof that drops low on the sides and on entering I realise there are no walls. As I sit on the edge of my bed and take in the uninterrupted view of the beach I realise I am not alone…two large elephants are making their way along the shoreline.
This visit to Lake Kariba and the special moments it gave me have once again cemented why Africa is in my heart.