Up the River

We are becoming poopologists. Every guide we have had has picked up poop and shared info about that particular animal’s poop. Victor in Zimbabwe showed us how boys in the village spit the little balls of antelope poop in a contest to see who has to go help mom with the chores. Civets eat grass to plug up their butt then eat insects, small rodents and such, then leave a massive dump to mark territory. Hippos blast poop showers onto bushes in their territory. Hyena poop is white because they eat bones. And elephant poop has 1001 uses for medicine, to repel insects, ease childbirth, reduce pain and on and on.

Something different today. This camp is located where the Lufupa river flows into the Kafue, which eventually flows into the mighty Zambezi. This morning, we took a small boat up the Lufupa.

African rivers are lifelines for the plants and animals that rely on water in this arid climate. The rivers are full of fish, the trees lining the rivers host fish-eating birds, the mammals come warily down to the bank for a drink. Hippos lounge around in the water. Crocodiles sun themselves on the bank. It was a quiet, smooth, cool, dust and insect free way to watch the wildlife.

A small swallow-like bird had built her mud nest under the roof of our open-sided boat. She spent much of the voyage flying laps around the boat, then returning to her nest.

Along the river bank are “hippo highways”, places where the big animals leave to graze, then later, reenter the water stomping down the vegetation as they go. Their trails flood during the rainy season, making little rivers that eventually carve tiny canyons flowing down to the real river. These provide access for the monkeys, deer, etc to get to the water to drink. So crocodiles hang out near hippo highways to capture food. Not much, they can go a really long time without eating.

At one spot was a wide open marshy area with pukus, warthogs, five species of birds and a small croc, too small to endanger anyone, all grazing on the sweet green plants growing there. It looked like a real high quality natural history museum diorama.

Our guide for this trip was Akim. Akim is smart, and had the good eyes of a top safari guide. But he either never learned English correctly or he has a speech impediment. He mixes R and L sounds like in a bad fake Japanese accent. “We’re going to see Reopard orchids along the Liver today”.

A few of our group went fishing on another boat. They hauled out a bunch of fish, mostly tilapia, that the chef included in tonight’s dinner. After dinner, we all sat around the fire pit and the camp staff sang songs for us and we sang Old Macdonald for them. We’re leaving Kafue tomorrow, flying back to Livingstone, then transferring to a bus to go to Botswana.