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Lower Zambezi National Park

Lost in the Lower Zambezi
The tse-tse flies bit at our necks and our ankles as we bobbed along what semblance of a road we could find. We were looking for the Chongwe Gate, the entrance to Lower Zambezi National Park. This was the real Africa - the hot, dusty, wild Africa that I was aching to see more of. "This will be an amazing detour," my friend Glenn promised, even after the local at the last petrol stop advised we were crazy to go into the park alone with no GPS.

The hours passed and our group began to worry. We were lost before even entering the park boundaries and it was too late to turn around. We reached a river crossing (read: a dead end) and decided to suck it up, turn around, and go down one of the paths marked 'private clients only' to a lodge in order to ask for directions.

"You're lucky we have no guests today," was the subtle dig the owner threw our way after we explained our situation. I guess I'd be a bit upset, too, if a VW Syncro with painted flowers and peace signs pulled up to my five-star lodge in the middle of the Lower Zambezi. She offered to give us directions to the gate we were looking for and radioed for a driver to help us. As soon as we spotted the open-air game drive vehicle, we jumped out of our VW van and into the truck. Asking for directions ended up being the best decision we could have made, not only for our morale, but for the free game drive we managed to wrangle out of it.
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Canoeing Safari in Zambia negotiating the Kazungula Channel & being charged by elephant
If you have not been to the Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia then you simply have not been exposed to one of the finest safari experiences on the planet. And to explore it by canoe is the ultimate way to get up and close and personal with the remote landscape, its magnificent wildlife and this majestic river. Guided by one of the finest guides of his generation, Gavin Ford, my wife Sacha and I spent a few adventurous days canoeing down the river with a special mission to navigate the infamous Kazungula Channel. This particular section of the river is where the river guides choose to spend their days off … always a good sign. And it certainly did not disappoint. It was hair-raising, as hippos slid underneath us and grazed the canoe as they plunged from shallow areas of the river to the safety of deeper channels. And lo and behold, around one bend we heard the most incredible battle being fought by two large herds of elephant right in the middle of the river. As we tucked into the reeds to watch from a distance, imagine my shock when a bull elephant charged us from the bank, bellowing and roaring his displeasure at having his afternoon siesta disturbed. To this day, I remember being astounded by the size of his toenails (which were at eye level to me in the canoe) and the smell of his breath as he roared expletives at me from such short range!
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