This helps to explain the giant populations of large mammals, including elephants, lions, buffalo and leopards. The Zambezi, as we all know, isn’t short of a crocodile or hippo, either.
And whilst I can’t claim to be the most avid birder (unless it’s a chicken or turkey with all the trimmings), the mix of ground hornbills, rollers and eagles even had me salivating (despite my knife and fork being replaced by a camera).
So we have the animals. Next up is the scenery.
The Lower Zambezi is simply gorgeous. Its furry, leathery and feathered inhabitants are all housed in the most spectacular amphitheater imaginable. Think mopane forest that hugs meandering river systems, which spill into the Zambezi. Think palm trees, baobabs, acacias, and Machiavellian strangler figs. Think mountains, wetlands and valleys. You get the picture.
And finally, we come to the topic of people. Nothing spoils the magic of encountering the remnants of a lion kill like carloads of yabbering camera-clicking tourists (unless it’s me of course).
The Lower Zambezi is wonderfully unspoilt, untamed and refreshingly untouristy. In fact, there are no tarred roads and you are unlikely to encounter another vehicle on your game drives.
During our time in the Lower Zambezi, my girlfriend (and fellow photojournalist) Gem and I stayed at Baines River Camp (http://www.bainesrivercamp.com/). Part of the prestigious Mantis Group, this beautifully appointed lodge nestles imperiously on the banks of the Zambezi.
Owners Tim and Sabine Featherby have spared no expense. Each suite is filled with lavish soft furnishings including down pillows and duvets. Each has a veranda overlooking the Zambezi, close enough to eyeball hippos over a sundowner.
Activities on offer include fantastic kayaking tours and river cruises, tiger fishing, and (of course) those game drives. Head guide Leonard has to be one of the best in the business. And after you’ve had a hard day checking out the eles, you can head back to the lodge for an in-room spa treatment, or relax in the outdoor pool. Not bad given the lodge’s remote location.
The camp and owners also excel in their conservation work. The Featherbys are doing huge amounts for indigenous communities and the region’s wildlife, working tirelessly with local foundation Conservation Lower Zambezi.
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