Friday, December 15, 2006

In the bush

I went to Selous National Park, the largest reserve in all Africa, though 80% of it is a game reserve (where they sell very expensive licenses to legally kill animals), so we are only permitted to enter about 20% of it.

We were in the bush. To say deep bush would be redundant.

We camped just outside Selous for a night. To reach the "camp," the road dwindled into 2 tracks, into 1 track and the rest of the way was reached by foot. The choice was tall grass by the river or sandy, ant-infested ground (whose bites welcomed us to the area). I chose the known (ants) over the unknown (snakes that lurk in tall grasses due to the cover it affords them). The bushbaby's sang to us all night. In the morning I learned that my tent was only a couple feet from a scorpion nest.

While trying to sleep, I heard the hippos walking past my tent, within very close proximity (just pass my tent's front "door").

Selous was a verdant savanna, lush with the moisture of this, the season of the "short rains." For the rest of the time in Selous, we had a very lovely camping spots, and except for the elephants, hippos, giraffes, zebras, impalas, kudus, elands, dik diks, hyenas, mongoose and lions (yes, we came upon a pride of 4 females on the way back to camp!), we had little contact with other human animals (we saw 2 jeeps on the first day, no one on the second day).

For our 2 days in Selous, we were accompanied by an armed guard whom we affectionately called Babu. We went on a game walk one morning, and we were within feet of the hippo pool. They were none too happy, snorting and "shouting" at us, but under Babu's watch we were okay. We also had night visitors of 4 hyena families, interested in our food scraps/garbage.

In snorting distance of the hippos:

We are now on our way to Mikumi, a much smaller national park, and our plan to take the shortcut directly from Selous was dashed due to recent heavy rains and impassable roads. We stopped in Morogoro, a bustling town at the foot of the Uluguru Mountains. We will make it to Mikumi town this evening so that we can be at the park gate very early tomorrow morning.


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