When one travels, one searches for different perspectives. We seek change. Of scenery, of mind, of conversation and stimulus. We also aim to change gear – to slow down, relax, reconnect. This is where a safari upon water holds its charm – in its invitation to unwind, floating alongside islands and national parks; its viewpoint of the African landscape different to any other. Here, upon the wild waters of Lake Kariba, we are called to embrace change, and surrender to the wilderness which surrounds us.
There is something magical about staying on a cruise vessel. One relinquishes control of time, handing over all responsibility to the captain and crew, conceding to ultimate relaxation. There are no schedules, no transfers, no race against the clock – and, one of the best benefits – no other people! The surroundings waters, from island to horizon – are solely your own.
Moving through the vast waters of Lake Kariba is akin to being on the ocean. Seemingly endless blue is fringed in the distance by a hazy treeline, perhaps marking your overnight destination. It is irrelevant, as you are captivated by the passing views, lost in a book, dreaming in a siesta or soaking up the sun by the pool as the captain directs the vessel. Life’s a cruise on the Sovereign Houseboat!
Late afternoon brings one to Elephant Bay, mooring for the night beneath a blanket of stars. An undisturbed African sky is dazzling – one can gaze into its luminescent labyrinth for hours, tracking constellations and galaxies. The stars capture one’s imagination, seeking orion’s belt, the southern cross, centauri; a visual voyage through the milky way.
Mornings upon the lake are crisp and quiet. Rising with the sun and riverine birdlife, accompanied by the iconic sound of the hippopotamus; coffee calls. An option for a sunrise boat cruise upon the smaller tender boats or a fishing venture is offered along with tea and rusks. Dawn is an active time along the riverbank, animals waking with the day, moving along its shores before the African heat descends. This is especially good for birdlife, various species seeking breakfast in the muddy waters upon the shore, or, as the kingfisher, perched on a branch focused on the still waters of morning.
For the vehement fisherman, the lake calls morning and evening. Trips out on the tender boat have you tied to tree stumps, the lure of possibility keeping you transfixed. Whatever is caught is prepared for a meal on board by the chef, an extra incentive to fill the keep-net. Those who prefer to observe, daydream and game view, sunset calls for a cruise along the shoreline. Silently floating up to animals as they quench their thirst, allowing us to quietly witness their end of day ritual, an intimate perspective into nature.
Time on the Sovereign Houseboat moves at its own pace. It seems to slow down, days stretching across the reflection of the water, rising with the heat and carried by the sounds of the fish eagle. Surrendering to the wilderness that surrounds us – we are changed by nature – being allowed a small glimpse into its timeless ways, charmed by its magic.