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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Zimbabwe - 23 March, 2001

 

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Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Nyakasanga Lodge (houseboat), Matusadona National Park, Lake Kariba S1645.391' E02835.234' 488 m
Walking safari
Canoe safari
Finish Nyakasanga Lodge (houseboat), Matusadona National Park, Lake Kariba S1645.391' E02835.234' 488 m -

Total:

30,413 km

9,493 km

 

Weather: Partly cloudy, sunny and very hot.  Cool at night.

 

 

Daily Journal Entry:

We had a great nights sleep on the houseboat - nice a cool with a brisk breeze.  We are up early as we are going to go on a walking safari in the game park.  We always enjoy walking safaris - there are not too many places you can do it and it is a nice change from being in the cars or trucks.  You feel much closer to the animals and the environment.

 

After some tea and coffee, we head to the pontoon boats and slowly start to chug to shore around 6:30 AM.  On our way, we see a large number of hippos in the water.  We reach the shore 15 minutes later and tie up the boat and begin our walking safari.  Well, it turns out that we do not see any animals on this game walk, but it is still very fascinating time.  The guide is trying to track the animals, including elephants and lions and takes time to explain many things to us along the way.

 

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First, we come upon some fresh elephant dung.  The guide breaks apart the dung and shows us many things, including all the undigested material - an elephant only digests about 20-30% of what they eat which is one reason why they eat so much (100-200 kg per day).  He also shows us why the elephant their dung is so important to the local ecology.  He takes out some bugs that are eating the dung and that are also laying eggs in the dung.  mushrooms will also start to grow in the dung.  The ground is fertilised . Finally, he pulls out some seeds that the elephant had eaten and which is passed out with the dung.  Two things are accomplished.  First, the seed is transported a fair distant, spreading out the territory of the plant.  Secondly, for some reason by passing through the elephant, the chances of the seed germinating increase from about 20-30% to 80-90%.

 

Along the way, as we walk, we are shown many footprints.  The ground is quite soft from the recent rains, so they show up well.  He shows us prints of elephants (including the toes and structure of the foot and how they walk), hippos, lions, female leopard and hyena.  We also come upon a tortoise that has been eaten by lions.  The lions are very hungry at the moment because the lion population is very high, but the prey population is very low - the natural cycle.  So the lions are eating what they could find.  We could see the the teeth marks from the lions in the cracked shell.

 

We came upon some hyena dung.  It is very white from the calcium of the bones that they will eat.  We also found a tooth from one of the animals that it ate.  The most interesting was find whole porcupine thorns in the dung.  The hyena must have eaten a porcupine (thorns and all), and the thorns passed right through.  We saw an impala horns and skull and could see the teeth marks.  Finally, we found some lion dung which was full of impala hair.

 

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It was a great walk even though we could not find any animals (even though we believe that we were very close).  We headed back to the pontoon to go back to the houseboat for breakfast.  On the way back to the houseboat on the pontoon, however, we saw a group of elephants by the lake shore. We head over there for a closer walk.  We stop the engine and tie up to one of the dead, drowned trees.  We have a great time watching them.  There are a bunch of adult females, along with a number of young ones of different ages.  We saw them doing all kinds of things, including eating, ...

 

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... drinking water from the lake, and ...

 

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... taking a mud bath from a small hole that they dug and filled with water right next to the edge of the lake.  The young ones would join in and they were all having a great time.  When they wandered off into the trees after about an hour, we headed back to the houseboat.

 

When we get back to the houseboat at 10 AM, we have a brunch which is followed by a short nap.  In the afternoon, we just hang out on the houseboat reading and not doing too much.  It is great to chill for a while.  Later in the afternoon, we go for a canoe safari.  They have a number of canoes which hold up to three people.  We are accompanied by a guide.

 

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We would just paddle around the lake, mostly near the shores, looking for game and birds.  Like the walking safari, it is another wonderful different experience.  You feel much closer to the animals and the environment around you.  We spent about 2 hours paddling around, including going into a number of narrow channels (one of which dried up and ended in a dead end).

 

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We saw lots of birds, but the highlight must have been getting quite close to the hippos.  We needed to be careful, however, not to get too close nor to get between them and deep water (safety for them).  They could easily run us over.  If we got to close or if they otherwise felt threatened, they would open their mouths up wide in a threatening display.

 

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We got back to the houseboat shortly before 7 PM.  As it is Sophie's birthday, we are going to have a bit of a party.  We quickly wash up and get ready.  The guys have been asked to dress up in fancy "dress", so everyone has a good laugh as we all show up cross dressing.  We have a few drinks and then a large dinner, followed by cake.

 

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Things really get going when they bring out the vodka jelly.  At first it is consumed in a civilized manner with a spoon, but it quickly degenerates.  Things are expedited and the vodka jelly is just poured down peoples' throats.

 

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From there we move onto a game of truth and dare, which carries on until a number of people start jumping into the swim cage (meant to protect you from the crocs and hippos) at the back of the houseboat.  We have a great time.

 

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