Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Books, beaches and Kariba Houseboats.

Well, not much to report from the land downunder. It was hot and dry, and now it's hot and raining. Mrs Blog and I are missing the little things we take for granted in Africa, such as electric fans and mosquito nets. So much for life being easier in civilised Australia. I woke up this morning covered in mozzie bites (though at least there's no risk of malaria).

I've been hard at work on editing my fifth book the past couple of weeks. This chiefly involves sitting on the golden sands of Sydney's Manly Beach, reading through a hard copy of the first draft and attacking it with a red pen. Hard work, as you can imagine.

It's not all beer and skittles, though, this writing caper, and not nearly as cushy as you might think. Last week the water temperature was unseasonably cold and on another day I had to walk 100 metres back from the beach to my serviced office becuase I'd forgotten my red pen. Yes, dear readers, I do suffer for my art.

Well, enough of that. My new best friends, Pan Macmillan London, have been looking for ways to promote the forthcoming release of African Sky in the UK and have got me working on a couple of ideas for travel stories for the UK press.

This gave me a good excuse to contact the owners of a houseboat on Lake Kariba. Mrs B and I, along with many unruly friends, stayed on the good ship Return to Eden in 2004, in celebration of my becoming a grown-up (turning 40).

Australian houseboats are about as big and appealing as floating caravans, so our expectations were not high for something cruising on a man-made Lake in land-locked Zimbabwe. However, we were in for a shock.

Return to Eden is like the Titanic of the houseboat world (OK, bad analogy, as it's still afloat, but you get the picture... Big... Luxurious... Like to be rude with Kate Winslett on board - sorry Mrs B).

Anyway, this is THE way to go game-viewing; sleeping in one of six air conditioned double cabins, with en-suite. One freakily appealing feature is the fact that the toilets look out through deck-to-deck full-length windows. There's no one to see you... except for the odd hippo or elephant, but it's not for those who suffer from stage-fright.

The houseboat, which has top deck big enough to launch an FA-18 Hornet from, and a bar to make an Aussie weep with joy, tows along two little self-propelled platforms from which guests can go fishing or animal spotting. We did plenty of both on the trip.

A houseboat holiday is a must for any serious Africa-o-phile. If you're going to do Lake Kariba, do it in style and be the King of the World on board Return to Eden. (Yes, this is another shameless plug, but they really do deserve it - unlike Land Rover, which will get no more plugs until I get my new/reconditioned gearbox).

Above and below are just a couple of the many animals we saw on the trip...


Hannelie said...

It's about time you post again! LOL
Glad I stopped by, the houseboat trip sounds delight. Love the pic of the baby hippo, in my opinion nothing cuter than baby hippo's and rhino's, and elephants and lion cubs and ... oh, ok I'll stop it!

Gargoyle said...

Yeh, yeh... So we haven't got the big game, but we do have some beautiful waterways. We were at Moore River today, just for a day trip. Very nice, but not Africa.

Maybe we could accidntally release a few hippos, rhino and elephants in the area!

tonypark said...

Well I'm glad someone reads this stuff. Thanks to you both for posting.

I've always said that there's nothing wrong with the Australian bush that a few hippos, lions, rhinos, elephant etc wouldn't fix.

Why were we importing rabbits and camels when we could have had the big five? Some leopards would have sorted the foxes out in NSW one time.

Gargoyle said...

Some American sailors may have had a go with the big cats over here during or just after the Vietnam war. Legend has it that they had a Mountain cat or Puma as a mascot on one of the aircraft carriers, and "lost" it here. There were reports of large paw prints, lambs being torn apart, etc, all through the South West a few decades ago. There were professional hunters coming here from every corner of the globe looking for their quarry.

Very quiet recently... Must have been successful. Bugger.