In the morning we met up with our driver, Neway Wandey, who turned out to be a very helpful guide and shared lots of information about Arba Minch and the surrounding area with us. He has made his living off of the tourism industry in Arba Minch and seems to know everyone in the town. He doesn’t have a website right now but I have his contact information. Email me at email@example.com if you are planning to visit the area and I can pass it along to you.
First we headed to Lake Chamo to visit the Crocodile Market. I wasn’t 100% what the Crocodile Market was before we went there, but I was pleasantly surprised. We headed out onto the lake in a little boat with the driver (also very helpful) we had hired. I love being on the water so even the ride across the lake put me in a great mood.
We kept our eyes peeled hoping to see some wildlife. G was filming everything on his tablet and focused in on something peeking out of the surface of the water. “I think that’s a hippo!” We both turned our attention to the object in the water, getting excited, but the boat driver quickly dashed our dreams. It was just garbage.
Soon after that non-sighting we began nearing the “Crocodile Market”. First I noticed all the birds, mostly pelicans, enjoying the shoreline. Then I saw it. The first crocodile was massive. It barely looked alive as it sat motionless with it’s mouth frozen open. They do this to invite birds to come and clean their teeth, although I didn’t witness this mutually-beneficial relationship. There were apparently three crocodiles, but one of them left before I spotted it, leaving the big guy and his smaller buddy. I have no idea how to tell the gender of crocodiles.
We were floating pretty close to where the crocs were posted up. I could suddenly feel my heartbeat quicken. There I was only metres from the massive teeth that belong to these prehistoric reptiles. I began to feel calmer and snapped lots of pictures. They looked more like statues than predators which eased my fear. That was until the smaller one slid into the water. Suddenly I felt my heartbeat quicken again. On land crocodiles seem slow, but in the water they move quickly. We watched as the smaller one swam away from us and then turned our attention back to the big guy. After a few more minutes it seemed to get tired of our attention and followed it’s friend into the water.
Our driver turned the boat back on and we continued forward. After awhile he pointed towards the water ahead of us. Hippopotamus. I don’t have the best vision so I spent a few minutes taking pictures of rocks before I realized they were not hippos. Then I saw the two of them with their little ears popping out of the water. The driver wouldn’t go as close to the hippos as he did to the crocs. They are known to be extremely aggressive. G was not a fan of them, knowing exactly what they could do to our boat if they felt like it. Maybe because we were a further distance away from them but I didn’t feel the same fear as I did looking at the crocodiles. I know they are dangerous, but they seem cute. That might have something to do with this Public Service Announcement from my childhood – House Hippos (watch the video below).
After taking a few pictures we started heading back to shore. After maybe a minute the driver stopped again and pointed towards the shoreline. I looked around frantically but missed a hippo walking out of the trees and getting into the water. Then the hippo started swimming straight towards us. This got the engine going again and we headed back to the dock.
It was a beautiful experience being on Lake Chamo. It is nice to see a thriving ecosystem. The hippos control their domain. The crocodiles live in harmony with the pelicans and cranes. We also saw King Fishers perched in the trees as they watched the waters for fish. Getting closer to the dock some youth on a small raft ventured into the water to do some fishing. It is amazing to think that Lake Chamo is an adventure for me, but for them it is a part of their everyday.
The day didn’t end here. We also checked out what Arba Minch is named for – it’s Forty Springs.