21st October 2010
One of the first things pointed out to us are the footprints of a baby hippo in the camping area. The advice is not to get out of the tent at night if there is any animal activity. Tents are seen as solid objects, but people as targets: „If you accidently step between a baby hippo and its mum, you are dead.“ Nice prospect...
The Luangwa river is so low that even lions sometimes cross over from the national park into the managed area. And then there are the leopards.
„It's always exciting to hear the warning call of the monkeys and know a leopard is about“, the camp manager says.
I have been told that tents are seen as solid objects, unless we keep food in them - „especially fruit – the elephants will just try to break in and find it“ - but I would prefer not to have any big wildlife galavanting past my tent.
We also have to keep an eye out for smaller wildlife: „The monkeys have become a problem since they got overfed here during the World Cup. If you feed them, we'll ultimately have to shoot them.“
The monkeys actually don't wait to be fed. They prefer to help themselves. A monkey shoots out of the truck, clutching a banana.
In the blink of an eye it's in a tree and therefore out of reach, gobbling up its loot, skin and all.
AH prevents a monkey from stealing a tomato, so it's 1:1 at the end of the first evening...
A powercut plunges the campsite into darkness. It puts me off my dinner, as I can't properly see what I am eating. The only lightsources left are a campfire and my fickle windup torch. I never realized how much my appetite is linked to sight.
I decide to go to bed early, but sleep won't come. I'm worried about needing the bathroom at night and listen out for the sounds outside. At some point the circades stop and there are animal sounds, but how would I know whether they are warning calls?
When I listen more closely, I can hear a grunting sound. A hippo maybe?
At around 5am, I can't wait any longer and stick my head out of the tent. No sign of wildlife. And the grunting comes out of a neighbouring tent: Someone is snoring...
The rising sun is a welcome sight, as it means I won't need a torch to go to the loo. I smile when I notice the charcoal spider someone has drawn on the wall of the toilet wall.
Hang on a minute! The „picture“ has just moved. This spider may be flat like a sheet of paper, but is very much alive!
Outside, a couple of mongoose have joined the monkey business. One tips over a mug of coffee that stands on the ground, briefly looks at the mess it has created and wanders off in search for new mischief.