Floating Along Lake Kariba 


A crocodile drifts slyly through the water as a hornbill observes the lively scene.

A disgruntled hippo’s snort awakens me from my deep slumber.  I squint as my eyes adjust to the bright morning glow.  Beams of sunlight reflect off the white rails and boards of the houseboat’s top deck.  Dewdrops glisten on the mosquito net around me.  Sunrays perforate the gauze, creating dancing shadows over my olive canvas sleeping bag. I push aside the grey mosquito screen blurring my vision and unveil the grand splendour of Lake Kariba.

Clear blue sky stretches overhead, with puffs of white cloud, strewn like blotches on an artist’s canvas.  A fish eagle soars above and its screech pierces the tranquillity.  “Kalai,” I muse aloud, the houseboat was aptly named, it means ‘the fish eagles’ cry’ according to the locals.

Shielding my eyes from the morning glare, I watch the fish eagle, its black wings widespread and yellow eyes focused, surveying the expanse of water for any glimpse of a slight ripple or silver shimmer.  Then it swoops, descending rapidly, legs outstretched, talons sharp and primed.  Its claws rush into the water, snatching the fish, a splash and gleam of scales, then with prey firmly clasped, the eagle ascends.  Slowly, then faster with momentum with one last shriek and shake of its snowy head, away he flies.

Towards the shoreline the tops of the fossilised mopane and leadwood trees stretch upward from the water.  They stand stark and bleached against the blue sky.  Peering between them I can see a bachelor herd of impala grazing peacefully on the opposite bank.  They look graceful with their sleek brown bodies and spiral horns.

A grey lourie rests on a bare branch.  Its distinct “go away call alerts a lone Cape Buffalo bull drinking, and he glances up.  The white egret tick bird perched on his back flutters off with activity.

Pair of hippos, Lake Kariba

Image Credit: Flickr -  Aristocrats-hat

A savage grunt make me turn by head, a warthog family appears out of the sparse bush, stiff legged, the animals trot in line with their tails pointing straight up.  A pair of vagrant hippos wallow near the houseboat, swirling and grunting with each movement.  The low bellow of a lion, signals there has been a kill close by.

An elephant stands majestically in the distance, its long trunk and heavy ivory tusks reach into the tall trees for leaves.  A crocodile drifts slyly through the water as a hornbill observes the lively scene.

I pull my sleeping bag closer as a gentle breeze sweeps briefly through the valley.  I can taste the succulent, salty bacon in my mouth as the aroma of cooking and freshly percolated coffee wafts up from the kitchen below.  The clattering and clinking of cutlery, stirs the rest of the family.  Yawns and sighs issue from beneath the mosquito nets.  The faint splash of a fish in the reeds at the water’s edge, signals its time to get up. The holiday is just beginning, and dawn has broken over Lake Kariba.

Dawn at Lake Kariba