We ventured out with our armed guard into the bush around the lodge. He didn’t speak but the way he slowly walked looking every which way created a frisson of fear.
We heard from our guide how animals can out run you, maul you etc and this had everybody expecting leopards to jump from the trees and have them for dinner. I made sure I stood as near to the man with the gun as possible.
We never went very far from the lodge but your imagination takes over. You feel intrepid. The first tracks we saw were elephants’ – with a baby in tow. I put my foot in Mum’s footstep and it was like an oversize dinnerplate. Then fresh leopard prints! Were we stalking him? Or was he stalking us? Colobus monkeys flew overhead from tree to tree (from the Greek word for deformed because they only have 4 fingers and no thumb). We passed the strangled/strangling fig tree with its’ beards growing down silently killing the tree it had taken over.
By this time it was growing dark in the forest and a sense of urgency developed. Our pace quickened a bit. Some more leopard prints and a hyena paw print – they were out there somewhere. We’d seen the animals around the water hole but that was from safety. Here we were the prey. The hyena prints led us to a hole – could belong to a hyena or to a warthog – they live in very similar holes. How does a warthog go in without knowing if there is a hyena in there? Quite simply, he goes in backwards so if anyone is in there he just gets bitten on the bum rather than having his face bitten off!
So no big cats again but a great time…