Arriving at Kariba, we discover The Cutty Sark hotel is definitely NOT in the same league as the Sheraton, but the room overlooks the lake and the pool is as warm as bathwater. After lunch we visit a crocodile farm. The crocs are numerous, somnolent – and very smelly. Not really living up to their reputation here, not a snapping jaw in sight.
Early evening is spent on the sunset cruise, featuring lots of hippo and a solitary crocodile. Like the pandas in the Kit-Kat advert, the hippo are most active when everyone is looking the other way. And the crocodile? He doesn’t appear to be active at all. The boatman wears a hippo’s tooth on a thong around his neck. He wants a copy of the picture we take, but doesn’t give us his address; he seems to think “Kariba Boatman with Hippo’s Tooth, Zimbabwe” will find him. We sip our drinks as cormorants fly overhead and the sun goes down. Somehow, I don’t think Zimbabwe champagne is going to be big on the world market any time soon.
We spend our morning touring Kariba, both the lake and the tiny town. There is a church built in honour of the men killed while building the dam; 20th February 1959 was a bad day – eighteen fell into the wet concrete, but only fourteen bodies were recovered. On the dam itself, we pretend not to photograph the Zambian side of the lake and go croc spotting from 120 metres high.
We have our first guided game drive in the afternoon: we see impala, zebra, hippo, baboons and lots of birds – but no elephants. If it wasn’t for the broken trees and the serious piles of dung, I wouldn’t believe there were any elephants in Kariba.
[Next month: Hwange Game Park and sleeping in a tree.]
Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.
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