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PADDLING THE Zambezi

Carrie Hampton experiences moments of both fear and hilarity as she canoes this famous river, dodging hippos and passing through some of Zimbabwe’s most scenic landscapes
Photographs by Christopher Scott

Experience Africa’s waterways

Knowing that hippos kill more people in Africa than any other wild animal, it’s frankly terrifying when one rears out of the water and charges towards you with its mouth agape. Dodging hippos becomes quite an art on any canoe journey along the Zambezi, and my first encounter had me wondering if I would survive the five-day paddle from Mana Pools in northern Zimbabwe to the Mozambique border at Kanyemba. It stands to reason that both occupants of the two-man canoes should work towards the same goal: to paddle away from said hippo. But we were each doing our own thing — me paddling forwards and my companion trying to reverse. We zigzagged awkwardly on the spot, going nowhere. “Oh no, we’re going to die,” I whimpered. Fortunately, we then mustered the kind of effort that comes from sheer terror and paddled in unison for just long enough to speed out of the old bull’s territory. Our sighs of relief were cut short as our guide told us we had better come up with a better plan for the next time this happened, as there were sure to be further similar incidents.

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About Travel Africa

12 Great adventures to experience in 2016 • Conquer Kilimanjaro • Paddle the Zambezi • Walking in North Luangwa National Park • Meet a mountain gorilla • Visit a conservancy... get off the beaten track!
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