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In the frame Travel Zambia May 2007 CHONGWE RIVER LODGE

Going with the flow The river is never quiet. There’s the grunting of the hippos, the ringing cry of the fish eagle and the occasional swish of your paddle. But out on the water you find the centre of an ancient calm. It’s a long way from engines; a long way from cell-phones and the city. The Lower Zambezi Valley was forged amid violence. Seismic forces tore this massive fissure in the earth’s crust some 175 million years ago, and rugged escarpments to the north and south now mark the fault line. Between these walls, the meandering Zambezi now drains east towards the Indian Ocean. Sausage trees and winterthorns line the banks, growing tall and strong on the rich alluvial soils, and game masses on the valley floor, lured from the hills by the plentiful grazing and the promise of the river. From the turmoil of prehistory was born a landscape of supreme serenity. And there is no better way to appreciate this than by canoe. Browsing buffalo scarcely look up as you ease past, and the overhead flutter of bee-eaters is audible above the lapping waves. No need to paddle: just hang in the current. Afternoon shadows lengthen across the water and you know that a campfire awaits back on the bank. Soon the lions will be starting up. For now, it’s time just to drift. May 2007 Travel Zambia