The Zambezi River is running fast, the chop rocking us hard.
"Well balanced, these canoes," says my guide Rod. "They hardly ever capsize."
Hardly ever? I grip my paddle. Next to me a five-meter croc slithers into the water.
A few minutes later, we round a bend and without warning eighty bellowing hippos stampede off the bank, leaping into the river directly in front of us. The tidal wave nearly swamps us. Humongous shadows swim just beneath us. Angry behemoths, incisors on display, explode out of the water next to us.
Drenched, desperate, I paddle like a maniac toward the opposite shore, where another line of hippos is marshalling their forces.
The early morning light behind them is perfect. A great shot. My hand shaking, I reach for my camera safe in its waterproof case.
Rod shakes his head. "A bit tetchy today. Best move on."
Much as I try, I don't always get the shot. But I do get the makings of a scene I can use in a novel.