Walking The Chikoko Trails
We’d crossed the river, canoe laden high with grass mats and other items for Crocodile River Camp. The porters were taking the supplies in and I was going to check on the camps progress. Ascending the stairs hewn out of the river’s steep west bank, I stood at the top taking in the scene before me. It was a clear day with cloudless blue skies; the temperatures pleasant and the vegetation lush and green. The Luangwa River was flowing freely some meters below with resident hippos quietly wallowing in its depths. I could smell the fresh vegetation. Bird song was all I could hear. It was beautiful! THIS is what it’s all about, I thought!
Setting off with the head Porter through the long grass, we had hardly gone 50m when we heard a rustle just ahead of us. Too loud to be Red-billed Quelea and unable to see what it was, we stood and waited. Getting a whiff of us, three buffalos suddenly burst out of the dense vegetation across our path and thundered off in the opposite direction.
Our track took us through tall grass that towered above me rustling loudly as squadrons of Red-billed Quelea took flight before us. Long-tailed Glossy Starlings chattered away in the trees; the skittish Lillian’s Love Birds dispersed before we got near them. A juvenile Bateleur circled overhead and a Brown Snake Eagle was seen sitting in a tree, its eyes sharply focussed on the scene before it. The familiar sound of the Cape Turtle Dove was a constant to our ears. A Village Indigo bird and Fork-Tailed Drongo – it’s a birders paradise!
Before long we came out into open ground where, some distance off, three large elephants were contentedly picking up fallen fruit under large marula trees. As we walked on, the gap between them and us closed but to my relief the elephants seemed unconcerned, going about their own business without a “sideways glance”. Fortunately, our chosen path soon veered off in the opposite direction.
I was fascinated, when Arnaud stopped to repair the fixings to his load. Breaking a slender branch from a chosen bush he tore long strips of bark, tied the ends to lengthen it and bound this round his bundle of mats to hold them together. The strength of this fixing was impressive holding his load in place securely for the rest of our walk!
We reached Big Lagoon, its rivulets winding their way across its pan. A few puku could be seen grazing amongst the lime green Nile cabbage, a wonderful contrast to the orange algae that grows in great abundance here. Moving through the thick undergrowth of the African ebony, the dappled light filtered through the leafy trees creating a magical scene. As we emerged, we came upon a herd of impala grazing under a large winter thorn, with their ever constant companions, the baboon.
The last leg of our walk took us along the bank of the Crocodile River which winds its way through the landscape and past Crocodile Camp. As we approached the camp, its chalets nestled under the large African ebony trees with views out across the dambo, the peace and tranquillity the location exudes reminded me of the reasons why I love Crocodile Camp so much. There is nothing nicer than walking in this untouched wilderness. This is most definitely what it’s all about!
Best wishes Heather
NB. Spend 7-nights walking our Chikoko Trails for as little as US$3010 per person sharing.