I was in Zambia on my first African FAM with Goway and I thought I had won the jackpot. Unbeknownst to me at this stage, this would become one of many amazing trips I have had the honour of being sent on by working for Goway.
Our day started out as the sun was just coming up. We were all groggy from the previous night—some of us groggy from alcohol, some of us groggy from listening to the hippos chat throughout the night. These fat-bellied giants propped up on four stubby legs can be so loud. The noise they make can reach up to 115 decibels, which is equivalent to a rock concert.
We were requested to meet at the dock after breakfast and head up the mighty Zambezi River to a smaller river that would be safe for us to canoe down viewing all sorts of wildlife. Our ride to the smaller river was by speedboat. We were sped up the river, which allowed the cobwebs to leave our brains and us enjoy the early morning sunrise.
Upon arrival at the mouth of the river, our guides gave us the talk about how to be safe on the water. We were each assigned a guide and a canoe (dugout canoes made in Canada) and there would be three of us per canoe, one being a guide to do all the hard work of paddling us down the river, and the other two along for the ride of a lifetime. As I made my way into my canoe with my new FAM friend and our guide, a momma hippo launched herself out of the water bearing her massive teeth and let out a rather bellowing sound. Our guide rapidly jumped into action and beat his paddle on the water to scare off the momma. I felt completely calm during this moment as I had complete faith in the guide. What we didn’t know at the time was how dangerous hippos can be. They do not go out and hunt humans, but if you encounter them when they feel threatened, you need to make a plan. Her bearing of her teeth and what looked like a yawn was actually a threat and not a cute and happy hippo. We were just lucky we were not lunch.
Once our heart rates decreased we were on our way to a more tranquil two-hour canoe ride down a lesser river, which was bliss.