African Safari Adventures

Continued (page 3 of 4)

"Tarzan never had it this good," I thought after a warm shower on a platform built aloft into the giant mahogany tree beside the honeymoon suite at Chiawa Camp. From this tree-shower perch overlooking a watering hole on the Lower Zambezi River, I saw hippo moms and their babies lumbering down the banks and sliding into the water. As the sun rose, the shore quickly crowded with elephants, antelopes and zebras. In the limbs above me, vervet monkeys chattered, and exotic birds twittered. I climbed down and kissed my wife, Echo, as she soaked in the Victorian clawfoot tub.

At 6:00 a.m., we were served fresh fruit, porridge and yogurt beside a campfire before heading out on a walking safari. An armed ranger led our small group. "Africa is all about personal space—good manners count here, too," he said. "Lions walk single file in transit, but they spread out when hunting. Stay behind me and walk in single file."

A great white egret rose over the plains. We spotted impalas, kudus and warthogs. Upon encountering a group of baboons, all but one large, glaring male scattered. A little while later, as we stopped for a look at an elephant cow and her calf, Mama flapped her enormous ears, shaped like the African continent itself, and snorted. She made a show of charging to signal we were too close for her comfort.

On our canoe trip back to camp, we passed hippos, elephants, wildebeests and a few small crocs. We transferred to a pontoon boat and anchored mid-river, where we relaxed and dined on curried beef and jasmine rice with peach chutney. While sipping champagne and eyeing cape buffalos and fish eagles, I raised my glass and toasted, "To the wild life."

Our next stop was Stanley Safari Lodge, an intimate retreat on a hill overlooking the Upper Zambezi River with distant views of famed three-mile-wide Victoria Falls. From our suite, Echo and I could see its spray rising, but I wanted a closer look. Early the next morning, I got my wish: A pilot picked me up for an ultralight flight over the falls, known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya or "The Smoke that Thunders." Just after sunrise, we burst through the shimmering spray right above the mighty cascade, and the rainbows below looked as if I could reach out and grab them. (For more info, zambiatourism.com)

—Kevin Garret

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