We began the formidable 4 day journey through Zambia and into Tanzania, stopping at Victoria falls during our gruelling journey.
The falls were spectacular; any more adjectives here would just be superfluous. We saw the falls during the dry season and the fine, wet and, what can only be described as rain that billows up from below, was incredibly refreshing.
Katavi National Park , Tanzania
Whilst checking into Katavi National Park, our friend animatedly pointed to a bird just above us on a telephone wire. He excitedly told us it was a Narina Trogon; a very difficult bird to spot, and we had seen it within minutes of arriving. This rare find set the tone for the rest of the trip where we continued to see marvels like bush pigs, Palm-nut vultures, wild dogs and leopards up close.
Katavi National Park is very remote and receives only 1 200 visitors a year, which ensures you feel like you’re alone there. Patrick and I found ourselves having prime seats underneath a tree with a leopard snoozing in it. There was no-one else around, so we didn’t have to worry about pretending to be watching a bird. The park is infested with tsetse flies, which is controlled at the camps. They were both a painful nuisance and a blessing, as it has kept humans settling in the region and left it unspoiled. So perhaps this pest has its uses.
We heard, rather than saw, a bush buck being killed on our first evening in the park. We raced to the sound in time to see wild dogs feasting right near our fence-less camp. It was fantastic and we were met with insistent barks from the dogs, warning us not to bring our vehicles nearer.
The second place we camped within the park was the loudest place we have ever stayed, not because there’s a shebeen or a highway nearby, but because we were camping a short distance from around 50 hippos that were hibernating in a muddy spring with water hyacinths. The hippos were seemingly stuck in the mud. They got up only in the evenings to feed and drink spring water that bubbled up. If you look at the picture of the hippo drinking, while birds feasted off invisible bugs on his skin, you may notice that he is somewhat thin for a hippo. This is because they go into a semi-hibernation state during the dry season, when they are forced to share large muddy craters and limited resources. At night, being the nocturnal creatures they are, they came alive. The sound of them fighting, wailing and grunting was ‘jurassic’ sounding.