'They say this is a good test of a relationship,' said Tim as he handed
me the paddle. I wasn't sure that such a tough challenge was what was
needed on a honeymoon, but it was too late to go back. My wife, Leigh,
and I were standing with our guide, Tim Came, on the banks of the
Zambezi near the Zambia/Botswana border. This was to be the highlight of
our honeymoon: a safari downriver, ending at the point where David
Livingstone first saw the Victoria Falls.
Neither of us had any canoeing
experience. Tentatively we set off downstream, paddling with more
enthusiasm than expertise. Soon we heard the first distant rumblings of
what seemed like thunder. 'Is that Victoria Falls?' we inquired naively.
'No,' said Tim dismissively. 'That's our first rapid.' Easy, we thought.
The canoe plotted a crazed path as
we careered from side to side, our best efforts seeming only to add to
our plight. This was the first of many rapids, all relatively minor, all
enjoyably challenging for tourists like us.
The overnight stops would mean mooring at
a deserted island in the middle of the river, where Tim's willing
support team would be waiting, having erected a camp and got the water
warm for our bucket showers. As the ice slowly melted in the drinks,
restaurant-quality food would appear from a cooker using hot coals. Then
people would begin to relax, and the day's stories would take on epic
One morning, Tim decided to count the
number of hippos we saw, in an attempt to gauge the population in this
part of the river. Most of the wildlife keeps a cautious distance, and
we were assured that, safe in our canoe, any potential threats would be
more scared of us than we were of them - but we had been warned to give
these river giants a wide berth. They'd normally stay in mid-stream,
watching us with some suspicion, and greeting our departure with a
cacophony of grunts.
Tim yelled 'Paddle!' and over the
next 100 metres an Olympic runner would have struggled to keep up with
us. The hippo gave up the chase, and although Tim said he was just a
youngster showing off, our opinion was that he had honeymooners on the
menu. That would certainly be the way we told the story by the time we
At some times of the year, you can
even enjoy a natural jacuzzi in one of the rock pools beside the falls.
The travel brochures say it's the world's most exclusive picnic spot.
It's certainly the ideal place to wind down after a near miss with a