Lake Kariba leaves one dreaming of lazy days fishing, game viewing and braaing in the evening whilst being serenaded by the sounds of the night. Staying with my family, brother in law Colin Delport and Mike Freeman at Wild Heritage for four days we were blessed with a magnificent elephant interaction at the lodge we were staying at. With this gentle giant coming right upto the lodge, feeding from the trees by the back door and gingerly stepping over the boat trailer.
Later in the evening whilst eating dinner another bull came upto the lodge where we could have stroked its head it felt that close! Unbelievable… we really are spoilt living in Zimbabwe. Following dinner myself and my father John (79) were playing dominoes surrounded by my mom, sister, Colin Delport my brother in law and ‘Uncle Mike’ (Mike Freeman).
The cook was cleaning the dishes in the kitchen after Colin cooked an amazing sea food dinner on the skottle. As Kariba is hot, even at night, the kitchen door was open so he could get a bit of a breeze.
Suddenly the cook sprinted past us at such a rate followed by a series of monumental crashing sounds and roaring. We all assumed an elephant had become enraged and lost no time in getting into the house. Colin was shouting for Uncle Mike to wake up – as he was sleeping on the recliner. Colin was herding his in laws and Uncle Mike toward the stairs, our only safe option as charging outside could have been even more disastrous. I however ran outside to get a better view of what was actually happening in the kitchen and looking through the French windows I saw two hippo’s in the kitchen nook. Well to be more precise the backside of one bull and the gnashing jaws of a hippo bull attacking the hindquarters of another one trapped at its front.
Now a door is not wide, so picture an animal over one tonne squeezing through the opening into a kitchen that was not much wider than the door opening into it. Imagine my surprise when I saw first a human hand and then a head peer with panic around the wall! Oh my God, someone is wedged in there with those two terrifying creatures! I dashed around and into the kitchen to see him attempting to clamber over the stove, which has now been ripped away from it’s place in the wall. I helped him clamber over the upturned stove and avoid those massive teeth – it was truly a wonder that he hadn’t been sliced to shreds – I actually managed to ask him what the heck he was doing in the kitchen. The pandemonium and cacophony of sounds added to the sheer terror of the situation – however only with hindsight are these things appreciated. Adrenaline has a habit of taking charge, allowing one to make informed decisions based on facts not feelings. I then raced back towards the roaring and gnashing jaws of these massive creatures and started clapping and shouting. Even in my state of adrenaline induced action I thought – what the hell am I doing. I was sure they could not even hear me, let alone pay any attention to my presence Colin came to back me up and amazingly one of the hippo reversed, squeezing back through the back door – which was now splinters (even the security gate had been ripped from the wall). The hippo which was still inside did not want to go back that way so further destroyed the stove and forced its way into the dining room through the narrow opening toward me. As this happened the power went out – caused by the extensive electrical damage now being done by this marauding beast. I legged it! I now had lost the advantage of at least being able to see the most dangerous creature in Africa before it ploughed its way toward me. So needed light.
Mike’s injuries sustained in the chaos of getting to safety And then quiet… nothing. But there is still a hippo in the house. I slowly make my way to the point where I last saw the hippo’s and using my phone torch to assess the situation. The moment the torch light landed on the hippo he made a mad dash toward me. I wasn’t sticking around to see how quickly he could smash his way through the dining room table so again I legged it. He made his escape through the open French window, destroying the Jacuzzi and heading toward the sanctuary of the lake.
The next morning we moved to a new lodge as the smell was terrible whilst there was a bit of a clean up operation which needed to begin. The next morning I went for a run… It was a new day and no sense dwelling on the past. I guess I felt the hippo was here before we were and it served as a good reminder to keep my eyes open in the bush. We were so fortunate that no one died. The guard managed to escape death by a whisker and we are all so thankful for that. Such is the hazards of living in Africa.