Challenges, Inspiration

Dara’s Zambezi Diary: Day Four

January 31, 2013

Dara O’Briain learns the etiquette of approaching a hippo on his Comic Relief canoe trip down the Zambezi.

There’s an etiquette to approaching a hippo in the water. You slow down, of course, and you beat the side of your kayak gently with your paddle to send a vibration through the water as a polite alert of your presence. Then you slip your kayaks into a single-line formation, cross to the other side of the river and slip quietly past. That’s the theory anyway. When you have six first-time kayakers like us, it’s not as easy as it sounds…

Firstly, every second stroke of my paddle tends to batter the side of the kayak, so that animals who have never even been in a river in their lives are aware of us. Even the monkeys have cleared the banks for miles.

Secondly, we still haven’t mastered the steering issues that me flung me out of the boat and left me clinging to a tree. Our single-file line tends to veer randomly from side to side – so randomly that Mel C said the only music that would fit over footage of us being attacked by a hippo would be the Benny Hill theme tune.

Nature watching at the same time as learning to kayak is like taking a driving lesson in Longleat Safari Park.

“Now, Mr Smith, depress the clutch and…Look! A monkey!”

“What!? Where? The clutch? Which one is that? A monkey? What?”

Last night we slept on an island with suspiciously large piles of relatively fresh dung scattered around. Still, they can’t eat us all. You can sponsor the BT Hell and High Water team now at

 Source – The Daily Telegraph

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