There is some gentle chirping coming from outside my tent. In the distance, across the river in Zimbabwe, I can hear a deep rumble of a lion just clarifying to anyone listening that he is awake. There is a splash in the water in front of my tent at Chongwe River Camp, followed by a chortle from some hippos heading back to the water after a night out. I hear my own gentle wakeup call by one of the camp staff “good morning, good morning”. I hear the welcome clank of a coffee cup and start my day.

The first coffee of the day on the veranda outside my tent is one of my favourite moments on safari. It is still so quiet and you can just sit, listen and watch Africa wake up. The baboons and vervet monkeys come down from the trees to catch the early morning rays, the older ones tend to sit still trying to absorb as much sun as they can, occasionally falling over as they drift back to sleep. The younger ones are jumping about causing mischief and mayhem.

All too soon it is time to gather around the fire to grab a quick bite to eat before heading out to catch the rest of the Lower Zambezi waking up. The impalas appear darker than they were yesterday. George, our guide explains that they tend to ruffle their coat during the colder nights and during the course of the morning it will go back to normal. A giraffe is caught slightly unaware as he is still sitting down, I feel bad for him when he clambers to his feet somewhat awkwardly.

The lodge is located on the confluence of the Zambezi and Chongwe Rivers so you have the added benefit of enjoying both rivers. Driving along the banks of the Chongwe River we see puku making their way down to get a morning drink, very much aware of the crocodile to their right who has just got to the riverbank to warm up in the morning sun. Some hippos further down have taken to the riverbanks for a spot of sunbathing.

Watching the birds go about their morning rituals is fun. The water birds are enjoying the morning light to catch some insects for breakfast while the raptors are perched high in the trees ready to catch the first thermals of the day. George points out some colourful bee-eaters as the morning light catches them in flight.

Later, we catch up with an extended family of elephants heading down to the river for a drink. There must have been ten or more enjoying their morning stroll throughout the Lower Zambezi National Park. Two naughty juvenile elephants had somehow managed to tackle a slightly older cousin to the ground and were trying to climb on top of him. George pointed out two teenagers whose trunks were intertwined and said that it was a form of greeting and that they were saying good morning to one another.

Moving on back down to the Zambezi River ourselves we stopped for a drink of our own. You could feel all around you everything was awake and alert for the day ahead. Across the river and into Zimbabwe you could hear some unfortunate animal meeting their end by the lion I had heard earlier. I just hoped that even though it was short-lived they enjoyed their African morning as much as I had.

Thanks for reading

Author: Bridget Cohen