Safari: Getting to Waterberry Camp

Posted by barb on Nov 16, 2016 in Pictures, Recreation, Travels |

I’ve dreamed of going on a photo safari since I was a little girl. My family had a membership to the Science Museum of Minnesota from the time I was in third grade until I was an adult. As a kid, I would page through their mailings, which included museum-sponsored trips in the back. Often there was a photo safari listed. I would read through the description and dream that I could go. This year was the year I would finally get to fulfill that little-girl’s dream.

Our trip started early on one of the longest days I’ve lived through – 1 hour drive to the airport, short flight to New York, 15.5 hour flight to Johannesburg, 2 hour flight to Livingstone (Zambia), 45 minute drive to our camp, plus all the layovers, time in security lines, and time in customs lines. By the time we reached our camp, we were exhausted, but it was only 1 PM local time, so we had lots of day left.

Livingstone Airport

Main Street Livingstone

Sign for our lodge

When we arrived at the camp, we were greeted with a (non-alcoholic) house drink and a safety briefing for the camp. This turned out to be standard at all the camps – both the drink and the briefing.

Waterberry Lodge

From there we were offered lunch and brought to our cabin and left to our own devices until our scheduled sunset river cruise. We took the opportunity to unpack a little, walk around the grounds, and relax. One thing we noticed immediately was the sound of hippos in the river. We chose this camp so that we could spend a day at Victoria Falls, not for its game, but we quickly learned that everywhere in Zambia and Botswana was close to wildlife – and big wildlife.

Hippos

We took a short walk through their nature trail, sat on the side of a little lagoon, and found some baboons who didn’t like us disturbing them at all. It was fairly hot in the sun, so afterward we settled in the shade until it was about time for our river cruise.

We were struck by the volume of the cicadas at the camp. The noise level was similar (worse?) than when we had the Brood X cicadas in Maryland. If you turned your head the wrong way, the volume bordered on the pain threshold.

We weren’t sure what to expect on the river cruise, but we had heard that the land across the river – the Zambezi River – was a national Zimbabwe game reserve. And of course, we already knew about the hippos.

Within a few minutes of taking off, our guide pointed out a baby hippo grazing on some grass on a small rock outcropping. Her mama was nearby, keeping a constant eye on us. Our guide estimated that the baby was about 4 months old. The mama hippos keep the babies separate from the rest of the pod until they are about 6 months old. We also learned that baby hippos can nurse underwater!

Baby hippo on the rocks

After watching them for a few minutes, we turned around and headed down river along the Zimbabwe side of the river. We found some impala, baboons, waterbuck, and crocodiles. We learned that the impala and baboons live together for part of the year, because the impala rely on the baboon’s higher vantage point to alert them to dangers. In addition, the baboons are messy eaters, so will drop things that the impala can eat. However, once the impala start having their babies, they separate from the baboons, because the baboons will kill and eat the baby impala.

Baby crocodile

Waterbuck grazing

We stopped for drinks and a snack right around sunset and watched the sun go down. It seemed to sink very quickly!

Zambezi Sunset Cruise

On our way back to the lodge, our guide spied the silhouette of a giraffe on the shore. He had told us that they came to shore to drink after sunset, and as if by magic, one appeared! I could barely make it out, but my camera has somewhat better eyes.

After-sunset giraffe

When we returned to camp, they had set up a private dinner for us on our balcony. This seemed like a lovely idea…until the cicadas took notice of our cabin’s light. They started dive-bombing us almost as soon as we sat down. We later realized that we probably should have turned off the light on our cabin and just relied on the candle on the table, but who knew? We made it through the appetizer and main course but I had to go back into the cabin before dessert. While dinner itself was lovely, the experience was not.

Dinner on the balcony

Dinner on the balcony

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