My Favorite River

Elephants in Chobe River

Our California winter this year has been blessed with abundant rain. As I walked in my neighborhood park last week, I marveled at the numerous rivers and streams.


I pondered what my favorite river on earth was, thought about it all week.


Rivers traverse all the continents. Over the centuries, cities have been founded on rivers for their power. They support large populations, and carry heavy loads of people and products. Rivers are the basis for the growth of civilization.


I have known so many rivers. How could I pick just one? Could you?


One favorite at the top of my thoughts: the Chobe River in Botswana. A popular watering place for African game. We watched wild dogs celebrating a kill, elephants crossing, and hundreds of ungulates.

Wild Dogs, Chobe River Nat’l Park, Botswana


Chobe River, zebra crossing from Botswana into Namibia


Waterbuck, Chobe River, Botswana, Africa


Then there is the Zambezi, another favorite. It is immense, and one of its most spectacular features: Victoria Falls.


Victoria Falls, Africa

Zambezi River

Zambezi sunset

In Zambia, where the Chobe and Zambezi Rivers converge, we had many lively experiences as we waited for the ferry to cross the river.

Waiting for the ferry at the Zambezi River, Zambia

Zambezi River crossing, Kazungula Ferry


And the Luangwa River, a major tributary of the Zambezi, holds the largest concentration of hippos in the world. Native residents share the river with crocodiles and hippos.


Hippos and Fishermen, Luangwa River, Zambia



Folks who fish rivers can read the water like a book.


Across the world in South America is the Amazon; we spent a week on the Madre de Dios River, a tributary.


It was buggy and humid in Amazonia, almost uninhabitable. I treasured the time we spent cruising this river, for the cool breeze and mosquito relief; and the myriad of wildlife species.

Boarding the boats, Manu, Madre de Dios River


Amazon river (near top) and jungle, aerial photo

Red and Green Macaws extracting nutrients from the river wall (photo by B. Page)

I have many favorite rivers elsewhere, too. My home country has so many rich riverways. The Yellowstone River, a tributary of the Missouri, brings frigid waters tumbling down from the Rocky Mountains.

Yellowstone Falls

The Colorado River, the Snake, the Columbia…and many more that I have had the opportunity to behold.

Colorado River, CO

In California, my home state, the Sierra Mountains deliver our highly revered water every day. We talk in winter about the snowpack, and every time officials measure the snow levels it makes all the newspapers, because this is the year’s source of survival. Dozens of rivers transport this liquid gold to us.

Deer Creek, CA; in the Sierra Nevada mountains

Drought and fires haunt us, and we revel when it rains.


What about the river of my childhood, the Mississippi? I was born and raised in the Midwest, where the Mississippi is integral. I’ve had decades of adventures on this river’s numerous branches.


Horicon Marsh sunset, Wisconsin


Could the Mississippi be my favorite?


Mississippi River basin. Courtesy Wikipedia.

As I continued to ponder the earth’s rivers, I remembered my times on the Rhine, the Danube, the Thames, the Amstel, and more.

Amsterdam bridge


Australian rivers, where I saw the rare Papuan Frogmouth (bird) from a motorboat; and my first wild platypus.

Papuan Frogmouth, Daintree River, Australia


As I walked in the park beneath the California oak trees, I heard rambunctious acorn woodpeckers conversing, and red-tailed hawks declaring their territories.


I love it that every day the river here is different depending on the light, time of day, precipitation.


It is here that I finally got the answer I was seeking. For today, my favorite river is this one…


…where my feet are planted, where my eyes take in the ever-glinting movement, and my spirit is calmed by the whispering waters.

Northern California neighborhood park

This funny little river, a stream, really. Quiet, perhaps unnoticed by some, it is a wealth of life and bliss.


Written by Jet Eliot.

Photos by Athena Alexander unless otherwise indicated.

Male Kudu, Chobe River, Botswana, Africa


95 thoughts on “My Favorite River

    • Oh those Yellowstone Falls are so impressive, aren’t they, Mike? Glad you enjoyed the rivers today. Living in the Alps, you’ve seen your share of moving water.

  1. You’ve seen some amazing and beautiful rivers, Jet. Thanks for sharing glimpses of them with us. I had the punch line figured out before you revealed it. 🙂 I think it’s the same for me, although there are a few places dearer to my heart than any others. I love the shot of the macaws.


  2. What an excellent choice Jet! All the others are wonderful but until you are there again on each of those rivers, they will be memories rather than actual experience. Seeing the wonder in where you are at the moment is definitely the key to benefiting from the environment, especially if it is a natural one but also if it is man-made.
    All fabulous photos of course, and the Papuan Frogmouth is the strangest of birds!

    • Always good to keep our eyes and ears open, as you also share in your walking posts, too, Alastair. Glad you enjoyed the rivers today. And yes, that Papuan Frogmouth was a super treat. I hope your exhibitions are going well, my friend. Appreciate your visit.

  3. What great news that your rivers are flowing in California! Damp earth and growing things make the soul sing.
    I love the pictures of the crossing on the Zambeze river. I did that crossing a few times and never took any pictures, so it was wonderful to see the people and the hippos. Thank you!

    • Yes, great news, Cathy, and you’re right, our souls here are singing. I’m happy you’ve been on the K. Crossing of the Zambezi and that photos brought back happy memories. I’ve read that a bridge is being built there, at long last, but as you know, they’ve been talking about it for decades. Many thanks.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the rivers today, Jill. Yes, I do write a trip summary after every journey, and also bird list and of course, Athena’s thousands of photos. Your visits are always appreciated.

  4. I love your memories of rivers, Jet. The Chobe is on the top of mine…love Athena’s shot of the elephants crossing. Your post speaks of a reverence for rivers and the creatures they nurture. I was touched by your neighborhood park river…there’s no place home. 😍

  5. Wow! You girls have seen some amazing things. Thanks for sharing. One thing I noticed as I looked at the different bodies of water – as soon as you switched to North American rivers, I felt the temperature drop. I felt the heat of Africa in the rivers there, and then the cool water of our waters here. Funny how we make these associations with images. isn’t it?

    • Really enjoyed your observations about feeling the temperature drop, Anneli. Rivers conjure up so much, even in the photos. Thanks so much for your contribution.

  6. Such variety, and how to choose? I think if I was lucky enough to see a wild platypus, that river would be up there! But the hippos…
    Lovely to read it was a local river topping your list.
    We have spent the past few days crossing rushing torrents large and small here in the UK Lakeland region. Wet feet a couple of times, but worth a little discomfort for some beautiful countryside.
    Thanks, Jet, and we hope you have a wonderful weekend!

    • I looked up the UK Lakeland region, pc, and your venue sounds lovely and lush. Kind of you to take time out from your vacation to write here, thanks so much. That wild platypus was in a funny little residential river that we never would’ve known about if the guide hadn’t been so savvy. We searched so hard the first time we went to Australia, never found a platypus in spite of all the trouble we went to. Returned 11 years later, paid a guide on the second trip, and he took us to it. It was truly fantastic. Warm smiles to you and Mrs. pc. I am glad you’re out hiking on the countryside, as UK is in a tizzy right now with the no-deal catastrophe. Blessings to you both, and thanks.

    • We certainly enjoy the water when it’s here, don’t we, David? It’s so beautiful out today, as if it is spring, enjoy the waters, my friend, and thanks so much for your visit and verse…always appreciated.

  7. I feel like I took a journey while immersing myself in your post and photos. You even included a photo of Horicon Marsh in you favorites. What a pleasant surprise!

    • I was born in a town on the Horicon Marsh, and I love this Marsh, so it was a great one to include. And I’m really glad you enjoyed it, Kristie. Thanks so much for your cheerful comment.

  8. This is a wonderful post Jet. I am saving it to re-read later as I am going out.
    Your pictures have lifted and stunned. I want to read and look more to see if I can say my favourite ones.
    Thank you


  9. what a great post on rivers all over the world, Jet! thank you! excellent pictures as always! there must be a mutual respect between the zambian residents and the crocodiles and hippos to be able to share the langwua river. love the zambezi sunset and the macaws are delightful 🙂

    • Yes, there is a mutual respect between the Zambian residents and the crocodiles and hippos, but sometimes the respect wears thin in both directions. Thanks so much, Lola, for your thoughtful comment. I always appreciate your visits.

  10. Your lovely post evokes many river thoughts and memories. The Rock River from “home” in Horicon was what came to mind first for me… where I learned to fish and ice skate and canoe. But then I thought of the Shenandoah… and the Danube… and the Mighty Mackinaw…

    • Yes, you see how the list just goes on and on. I was amazed when I found the Mississippi tributaries on the Wiki map, how far and wide they extend. I’m happy this river post has evoked “river thoughts and memories,” dear Nan. Thanks so much for your visit.

  11. I really like the way you blend the rivers, far and near, colorful and muddy, high and low, exquisite and ordinary, into one big river of life, and a beauty, at that. Which reminds me that my favorite river is the one I’m “reading like a book” at any particular place and time, immersed as if we all belonged. Thanks Jet!

    • I wrote that sentence about reading a river “like a book” with you in mind, Walt. Your posts and book that so eloquently describe all that you know about wildlife and life above and below the water, all the different depths and curves in the river. I really enjoyed your comment, and your understanding of my message…much appreciated.

    • I have never thought in terms of river as a theme, but we have had so much rain and I am giddy about it all. I seem to find little waterfalls and streams and rivulets, and bigger rivers too, wherever I go. I’m happy you enjoyed the theme, Belinda. Athena took that hippos-and-fishermen photo as we were crossing the bridge. I like that one too, gives you a good understanding of how important the river is to everyone. I am smiling with thanks….

    • Yes, it’s living in the arid conditions that makes us realize the utter bliss in rivers and water, isn’t it, montucky. Completely enjoyed your comment, montucky, thanks so much.

  12. Rivers have been of great importance to humanity since the beginnings of time. Providing fresh water, mainly and a way of navigation to a number of places. My favorite has been and is the Amazon river. I always thought this river is alive and strong with a giving soul. Great post my dear Jet! 🙂

    • Loved hearing about your favorite river, HJ. The Amazon is such a strong life force, I agree. You know it has to be strong to have slowed down (i.e. nearly killed) the great outdoorsman, Teddy Roosevelt. Always a great joy to “see” you, HJ. I’m heading over to the Red Gallery….

    • We had been in the Luangwa Valley for a week and hippos are very prevalent there. So seeing them in the water, those bulbous bodies half-exposed, it was easy to identify them by the time we saw the sight of the hippos and the fishermen in the river. Easy to identify, but still difficult to believe. I so appreciate your warm comments, Bertie. My best to you.

  13. Great piece and now I can’t stop thinking about what my favorite river is — first thought Yellowstone but then the Shenandoah but now since we will be living on the St. Mary’s river maybe that will be it:)

    • Oh how I treasured this comment, dear Bill. Both you and Nan reminded me of the Shenandoah in the mystical Blue Ridge Mtns., and a tributary of yet another river, the Potomac, which I love and never mentioned. The list, it goes on, what glory! And I look forward to being introduced to the St. Mary’s this year. My love and thanks, Bill.

  14. Each river has its own beauty and the ones I’ve seen are attached to special memories. I don’t think I could pick a favorite. The ones you show here are all wonderful – as are the pictures.

  15. It’s an interesting question. For those who have grown up near the sea, or lakes, or rivers, the siren-call of the water is strong.

    I’ve lived near water my entire life. Could I pick a favourite lake or river? I don’t think so … although my mind does drift to Lake Okanagan and Skaha Lake in the BC interior. Like you said, more often than not, it’s the one we are currently near which calls to us.

    I loved your words and the beautiful photos that accompanying them. The river map of the Mississippi was truly an eye-opener. Now I know how it got its name the Mighty Mississippi!

    • Thank you for the your thoughtful comment and exchange, Joanne. I’m glad I got you thinking about your favorite lakes and what they might be. I, too, thought that river map of the Mississippi was an “eye-opener,” easy to see where the Midwest gets its water. My warmest thanks for your visit today.

  16. How astonishing that you can compare all of these rivers from so many places around the globe. But bottom line does seem to be the attachment to the one closest to home. I’m feeling totally blessed having a lovely creek flowing in our front yard. One that can turn into a raging river in winter. I hadn’t noticed how much I missed the babble of the water on its way to the ocean until the sound returned again during the rainy season.

    • Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment and input, Gunta. I see that you, too, love the presences of a river/creek nearby; and oh how I have enjoyed reading your posts on the flora and fauna who share the rivers with you. And then there’s the ocean…another vast and refreshing playground. My warmest thanks…

  17. Wow, you’ve seen a lot of rivers! Victoria Falls looks spectacular! And the wildlife…

    Our relatives took us on a riverboat for a day trip on the Rhine in Germany and it was very beautiful, with castles and vineyards all up and down on both sides.

    Our hometown lies between two rivers, the Thames and Mystic Rivers. And we’ve gone on ferries up and down the Connecticut River, home to a resurgence of bald eagles. You’ve inspired me to learn more about them.

    • I was delighted with your message, Barbara, to see that the river post inspired you to learn more about the rivers. And loved that you were thinking about your many experiences on rivers. It is a wealthy resource we have, and a fun one too. Thanks very much.

  18. So many beautiful photos and memories of your favorite rivers and I enjoyed every one of them! Loved the photos of Africa and the shot of Yellowstone Falls and was left smiling looking at your neighborhood park with your wonderful words “where my feet are planted and my spirit is calmed by the whispering waters.” Fabulous post!!

  19. This post is a celebration of rivers….Your words and Athena’s images are wonderful. The two of you have travelled in some amazing and exotic places.

    Until a river runs dry, we tend to take it for granted, and yet rivers are the source of so much history, wealth, nature as well as being places where we can simply stop, stare and listen to its mesmerising movement.

    Rivers are like a magnate for me. Wherever I go, I am drawn to them. I like to live in close proximity to water, and so it is with great delight that I walk the tow path by the stretch of the river Thames where I live in London.

    I am so pleased to hear that California has received lots of refreshing rain this year and that Mother Nature is responding accordingly. I am sure your property must love it.

    Wishing you and Athena many more joyful times spent on rivers. Janet 🙂

    • Dear Janet, always a delight to hear from you. I like that you called the post a “celebration of rivers” because that’s exactly the spirit in which I composed it. Your local river, The River Thames, is one of the grandest on earth, and there’s way too much to be said about it that will fit in this comment box. I am so glad you enjoy this river in your usual attentive and appreciative style. I thank you for your wonderful words and wishes, and I, too, hope you have more delightful times on The Thames. (PS, one of my dreams is to see the Thames in Oxford, like I see in all the British mysteries I watch. Maybe be on it, maybe just swill a beer beside it.)

    • Glad you enjoyed the macaws, RH. We had to hide out in a tiny blind and arrive at dawn, before they did. They come every morning to get their daily supply of clay from the river bed, it has the nutrients. Thanks so much for your visit, always appreciated.

  20. Beautifully writing of rivers and its stories. These photos are so wonderful, which remind us how much we rely on river and rain. Zambezi sunset is one of my favorite photos, such a precious moment.
    Thank you, Jet for sharing with us. 🙂

    • I enjoyed your thoughtful comment, Amy, thank you. You and I both live in states where rain doesn’t always flow; yes, we sure do understand the importance of rivers. That Zambezi sunset was precious. We were on a boat, birding, and the sun setting was a gorgeous and momentous event.

    • Truly a joy to take you around the world with me, Inese, to see the plentiful rivers we have on this earth. Thanks so much for all your visits today, for taking the time to absorb the posts I have shared. Much appreciated and enjoyed.

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