Jun 242011

Nick paddles whilst Steve looks for wildlife on the Zambezi river

Our photo tour to Zimbabwe was not just about canoeing and getting up close and personal with hippos.

In the mornings we went on game drives and if Nick found any interesting tracks, then we would go on a walk so that we could get some great photographs.

On the last two days we had two very exciting walks. Nick noticed that a group of impala were very agitated, we stopped driving and searched the landscape with our binoculars. Nick’s trained eye noticed a pride of ten lions moving in the grass. They didn’t seem to be hunting and the impala were fully aware of them so we decided to follow the lions.

Nick was obviously armed and we set off with our cameras across a plain and in to the  grass.

Part of a pride of lions that we were following on foot.

The lions seemed to be strolling casually but they were hard to keep up with. They headed in to some thick brush and we continued to follow.

At this point, Nick told us to keep close together and reminded us what to do if a lion charged – DON’T RUN!

Following lions in thick brush with limited visibility is very exciting, at least I think so but unfortunately we never caught up with them. They probably lay down, watched us, rolled their eyes and thought “more tourists!”.

African wild dog alpha female outside her den

The following morning was even more exciting. Nick knew of an African wild dog den that was near our camp, after breakfast we headed there by landrover and walked the last kilometre.

It is unusual for African wild dogs to reuse old den sites, the exception is when a new pack is formed and the inexperienced alpha female will use a den she is familiar with for her first litter.

Nick was delighted to find that this was the case at this old den. About nine dogs were lying in the open in front of the hidden den site. They were a long way off and difficult to photograph. After they became used to our presence we slowly shuffled forward on our bums, with our cameras on our laps.

Slowly but surely we got closer and the dogs seemed comfortable with us. We took some great photographs and just enjoyed being these magnificent but now, very rare predators.

It's hard to get away from hippos on the Zambezi river

After my capsize on the previous day, we were a little apprehensive when the hippos seemed to be too close. Fortunately, they behaved themselves and we had no more incidents.

The last couple of hours of the last day were particularly good because the terrain wasn’t suitable for hippos. In the warm glow of the afternoon light we drifted alongside a vertical sandy bank and saw African fish eagles, a python, monitor lizards and birds that nested in the sandy bank.

It was a great end to four days on the Zambezi.

Monitor lizard poses as we drift past

Will I go back to Africa? Definitely, especially to Botswana. In fact, on the way home we were throwing ideas around for another trip.

Whether I organize another photo tour to Botswana is not certain. This year’s tour took a huge amount of planning but had very low attendance and I tempted to return with family and a few friends on a private trip.

However, if you are interested in Africa then use my website contact form and drop me an email as I can always be persuaded to change my mind!

In the end the four of us had incredible experiences and have many breathtaking photos, that I’ve not yet shared on my blog.

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