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Luxury, Food and the Zambezi, Pt. 6/6

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So, it brings us to the last full day at Royal Chundu Lodge, on the banks of the Zambezi, Zambia. And yes, that is me in the pic above, looking somewhat flat. Soon you’ll see why, at the end of the day, I looked like that.

Remember last time I told you about the killer dinner the previous night? Well, I woke up at 6am for a spot of tiger fishing on the Zambezi.

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To “go fishing” does not imply “catching fish”. Well, in my case it certainly doesn’t, and neither did it for JP or Carmen who joined me. I got a lot of bites, but nothing that could put a hook through a tiger-fish’s hard mouth. What would I have done with the thing if I did catch it, anyways? Bianca caught one the day before, but we did not, and all in all, I don’t mind, but it would’ve been nice to boast to my fisherman mates that I actually caught tiger-fish on the Zambezi, I didn’t merely “go fishing”. It was not to be.

But, I was to have a much closer relation to the waters of the Zambezi for the rest of the day, as we were scheduled for some canoeing or kayaking.

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The guys from a nearby village came to see us off as we ventured into crocodile and hippo-infested waters.

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Team “If we don’t paddle we’ll get nowhere-today”, a.k.a. Team “Don’t let them drown”. Our river guides and paddlers. We would do about a 4km paddle down the river, through some very mild rapids. But if you’re not fit, like me, you’re glad you have a outboard motor called David helping you along.

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The real deal. Some of the locals’ makoro, or a hand-made kayak, which they use for fishing in the river.

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Our deal. A synthetic kayak made for three people, light as a feather and easy to manoeuvre. Also looks seriously macho on top o a Golf GTI or Subaru of your choice.

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Jackets designed specifically so that you cannot hide underwater when you see a hippo or croc approaching. This jacket also ensures that crocodiles start eating your from the legs up, enabling all your travel companions to see your face as you become less and less.

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Team Nel.

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Clayton Morar had no reason to row, as Liesl is a serious rower, with a Duzi Canoe Marathon under the belt, and a bunch of triathlons.

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Alan Ford and Jenny pulling away with screeching tyres.

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This is not a bad view to have while sitting on the water. Beautiful place, like I’ve said before.

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Fishermen in their makoros.

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It wasn’t long before Alan decided that five-star luxury should extend to a canoe as well.

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The Zambezi brass, checking that we toe the line. This is officially the closest I’ve been to a hippo. It was about 30m. Anything closer is considered too dangerous, as you cannot out-paddle a swimming hippo, you cannot outrun it (60km/h on land), you certainly cannot fight it, and you will end up as another statistic proving that this is the most dangerous animal on the African continent. It kills more people than any other animal.

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After the first rapid, we stopped on an outcrop of rocks for a quick drink. Here we all cooled down a bit and lazed about, resting our tired bodies.

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John Maythan, Jenny and I.

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My wife saw all the little pools or puddles, and decided there is one way to get cooler than standing around having a drink.

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And soon, she started a movement.

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Off we paddled again for another couple of small rapids, through some side-streams, ultimately bringing us to an island in the river. Here, a 5-star bare service awaited us, complete with Persian carpet, fancy chairs, a hammock and nibbles. Oh, and Moet & Chandon, nogal.

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After an hour or so of chilling in style, we set out of the last leg of rowing. This time into some serious rain, and a bit of wind. It was about 2km of solid rowing back, but I relished the opportunity to feel like a real traveller for a change, and not just a passenger, and gave that last stretch everything I got. It was the best exercise I’ve had in weeks. And I love rain too!

Back at the lodge, we all got cleaned up. lolled about, and sat down for the final evening’s dinner. Jenny had spent the afternoon in the kitchen with the local guys again, and served us an amazing dinner.

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JP revisiting some altar-boy duties.

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Cluedo, Zambia style.

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By now, whatever pretences might’ve existed when we all got together for this trip, was now truly lost, as Jenny spent the afternoon cooking and dining in her pj’s.

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Ceri got a hold of my camera…

The next morning, we all had some breakfast and drinks before we shipped out to Livingstone again, having had an absolutely amazing time, in a breath-taking and beautiful place.

Every now and again, I close my eyes, take a deep breath and travel along the Zambezi in a catamaran, sipping on a G&T, breathing fresh air and listening to the cry of the fish-eagle.

Thanks first off to Jenny Morris and David Morris for involving me in the book and project, to Royal Chundu – www.royalchundu.com – for a fantastic experience, and all the other guys there making it memorable.

Soon, a blog will come showing the behind the scenes, making-of-moments of the book: Cooking with Jenny Morris.

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