A river cruise in one of our outboard-powered boats will be a rewarding experience any time from early morning to evening. The choice is yours, and our guides will make the appropriate recommendation depending on prevailing conditions. Photographers may not want the sun in their eyes or backlit waters.
There’s always something happening on the river, and the breeze out there is delightfully refreshing, particularly on a bright, cloudless sunny day. The river is continually changing and varies in width, speed and depth, perpetuating the ill-defined Zambia border which follows the original river course. Wildlife knows no such boundaries, and downstream there are national parks on both sides.
There is a rich variety of birdlife on its banks, reedbeds, backwaters and sandy shores mainly when the Palearctic migrants are around. You will see the ubiquitous fish eagle or an osprey often taking larger fish from the river, and there are myriad kingfishers of all shapes, colours and sizes who are partial to the smaller ones. With a vast variety of waders, storks and herons it’s a twitcher’s paradise with a host of interesting distractions.
One is always on the lookout for crocodiles, and the boatman or guide will make sure you can get that close-up of the big one before it enters the water. The hippos, of course, are always around, and your guide will know just how close you can safely go. They will always seek the deepest water, so it’s wise not to be blocking their way!
Recently there have been sightings of a cape clawless otter which we hope is managing the crayfish population that we understand are possibly on the increase. The Malawi Blue Crab has recently been seen in the water. There is often something new to consider, and our guides’ and boatmen’s enthusiasm is infectious.
All the large mammals come to the river to drink and in the case of elephants to frolic in the water. They let you come close enough to get some amusing pictures of their antics. You will often see lion, buffalo, kudu, bushbuck, waterbuck and many other larger animals on the river bank as, unlike the elephant, they have a healthy respect for crocodiles.
Cruises are well stocked with refreshments of your choice, and it’s pleasant to enjoy a sundowner on a sandy island with elephant nearby. Perhaps have a game of boule before returning to the lodge, using the spotlight to search for those bright eyes in the water and the riverbank.
For additional interest, a trip further upriver will allow you to see the riverside villagers happily fishing, bathing and washing their clothes in the river in the same way as they have for centuries. They seem to know when the crocodiles are around!