The Smoke That Thunders

Heading southwards, Angama safari guide, Sammy Komu, took his first trip to Zambia and Botswana. From river rafting to helicopter flips – and of course a rather wet Victoria Falls blessing, there was never a dull moment to be had.


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A moment of reflection on the trip of a lifetime


Having been a safari guide for more than a decade, I have been able to meet many guests travelling from all corners of the world, and all I could do was imagine how beautiful their homelands looked.

Well this year, thanks to the Angama Foundation and The Greatest Maasai Mara Photographer of the Year competition, I was able to travel outside of East Africa and for the first time, explore two of the most iconic destinations in Southern Africa: Zambia and Botswana.


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Great excitement as we left East Africa – a first for many of the guides


On the day of travel, I met Martin Keino, who is son to the famous marathon runner Kipchoge Keino, and who would be our travel organiser, along with the four guide winners from the competition. We immediately became fast friends. We left Nairobi early in the morning courtesy of Kenya Airways, and not only did we get to travel first class, we also got an honourable mention from the caption. We felt like real VIPs!


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Arriving at Royal Chundu was heavenly with a drink and a massage ready and waiting


Our first stop was at Livingstone Harry Mwanga Nkumbula Airport, we were welcomed by our lovely guides in Zambia, Amanda and Everisto from Bush Boys Africa Safaris and travelled to a magical lodge called Royal Chundu right on the mighty Zambezi River. The staff were amazingly friendly, and knowing that we’d had a long day, they quickly made us feel at home including a quick ‘rungu’ massage.


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Happy days spent on the Zambezi river with friends


Hensah, one of the managers, had prepared a programme for the two days we would be there, with each activity better than the next. Every morning we were awoken by the melodious sounds of the African fish eagles signalling that it was time for a sunrise cruise while fishing for the fearsome tiger fish. Although we did not catch any, the experience was still worth it. In the afternoon, we were treated to a sundowner cruise and the views as the sun set were magical.


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A trip to the local villages was a great opportunity to learn about Zambian culture


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Overcoming initial fears, the guides soon became master canoers


The next day, we visited a local village meeting wonderful people who taught us about Zambian culture. Afterwards, we set off river canoeing which for me was both scary and exhilarating as it was something I’d never done before and I don’t know how to swim. And the surprises didn’t end there – after the canoeing we were treated to a picnic on an island in the middle of the Zambezi with not another person in sight.

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Walking through the thundering ‘smoke’ of the Victoria Falls


Then it was sadly time to leave Royal Chundu and its lovely people, but we had more exploring to do. Before leaving Zambia, we had to visit one of the greatest wonders of the world: the Victoria Falls, commonly known as ‘mosi oa tunya’ by the locals, which means ‘the smoke that thunders’. You can see the ‘smoke’ from over 60km away. We were told that their ancestors believed that the spray that comes from the Falls is a blessing and one should not wear a raincoat while walking alongside it, so as to receive the blessings. Well, we did just that – and got really wet!

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The Chobe National Park has the largest population of elephants in the whole of Africa and we saw plenty


Then it was time to head to Botswana where we would be staying at Chobe Game Lodge for two wonderful days. We had exceptional game viewing with our guide, Maggie, with sightings of elephant, buffalo, hippo and a diverse array of birds – some of which were lifers for me. At night, we heard the sounds of lions roaring nearby.


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Sharing ideas and stories with the Chobe Angels


On one of the evenings, we were able to interact with the ‘Chobe Angels’ which was our name for Chobe Game Lodge’s all-female guiding team, exchanging knowledge of the Mara and Chobe.

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Taking to the skies meant we had the best view of the Victoria Falls all to ourselves


Then back to Zambia we went for the final leg of our trip. The fun was far from over, as we were able to choose from a range of fun activities including a helicopter flip over the Victoria Falls, bungee jumping, ziplining or a gorge swing at the bridge. I was brave enough to do the helicopter flip – the views were out of this world.


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Saying goodbye to our new friends with parting gifts of Rungus and Shukas


After heartfelt goodbyes, it was time to leave Zambia and fly home to Kenya. It was truly a trip of a lifetime for me and my fellow guides, so a big thank you to everyone who so kindly hosted us and who made this great adventure possible.

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