Last night I fell asleep with about 70 impalas standing at attention just outside the door of my bungalow. These short-haired graceful animals had roamed into our riverside camp in the late afternoon and remained standing, with heads held high and noses pointed north, until almost dawn today. I am in Zimbabwe.
We fill our days with game drives and drifting up and down the Zambezi River on a houseboat. The weather is warm (90s) and sunny most days, and dips to the 70s in the evening. For the most part, mosquitoes are not a problem and when the wind blows, it feels wonderful. Camp staff serve delicious meals with unexpected grace and style at our safari camp.
On the boat, we watch and wait and smile wide when we see wildlife that we can actually photographed. Tusked elephants raise their trunks, smelling and analyzing us, before they wander further upstream to escape our perceived threat. While we are not deadly poachers, we poach their space with our prying camera lenses.
Eventually the small herd, including a very cute baby elephant, makes it down to the water’s edge. After scooping up their fill of Zambezi water, these lumbering creatures step back and scoop sand to eat. This provides calcium and other nutrients that are missing in their diet. Crocodiles thrive below the surface, so swimming is out of the question. We ultimately spot warthogs, baboons, monkeys, hippopotami, vultures, and bush bucks. We also spot several herds of impalas, and because they seem to be “everywhere”, they are also known as “bush McDonalds”. Later we climb aboard open-air vehicles and our South African and Zimbabwean guides lead our search for more animals.
I struggle to string together the right words to describe all I see and experience, but the unstrung version includes (in no particular order): red dirt, brown dirt, shrubs, wind, flighty birds, still giraffes, international border posts, lumbering dark grey elephants, green acacia trees, snorting warthogs, elephant bones, silence, chirping birds, wonderment, peaceful, isolation, and – the list goes on. I will sleep on this and try to put more words together tomorrow.