The Last Dawn

In the life of every expedition there comes an evening when the return has to be contemplated; when, at dawn the next day, it has to be taken on. It is a journey in itself, with its own observations and thoughts and emotions. And I will – we all will, at some point in the future, have to contemplate the journey back from this. Early this morning I sat down to write about that. But then, gazing out from the veranda over the lawns, streaked with yellow from the young sun, and hearing the birds and listening to Beethoven’s...

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Night Routine

Hoping for a restful night, but prepared – hammock slung low so I can easily reach down for the rifle, sandals ready, bright little LED torch between my legs inside the sleeping bag, a fire through the night – the feint glow in the background towards the top left. One of us will get up from time to time to push the logs deeper into the bed of coals, so that we have the constant lick of a slow flame. On the near side, my companions will bed down close. They are backed up against a convenient thick tangle...

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The Night We Got Back

We trudged into fly camp some time after 11pm – Vashtudu, Jantjie, Moosa and me. The pic is Victor’s work. He and Louis were recruited to look after the vehicle; neither was brave enough to stay behind in the bush alone, so I had to take on both. We found them fast asleep in the cab, their fire abandoned. The hyenas had been giving them hell, they explained, with some embarrassment. Sure enough, the next morning we found the area around was covered in hyena tracks. Vashtudu snorted derisively that they should know better than to leave smelly food...

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The Joy of Simple Things

Kalemba had become fascinated with my little idiot box – not always the best subjects and sometimes a bit awkward, but still, it did leave a record of sorts that would not have been there had I carried the thing. We came across this little compound late one afternoon. I am (through Kalemba) listening to their accounts of what was going on in their stretch of wilderness. As I might have mentioned in earlier postings, such bush dwellers, especially the ones like these, that live their semi-nomadic lives in the remote wilderness, are wonderful to meet up with; spend...

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Sometimes the Universe smiles

Sometimes the Universe smiles at you. Towards late afternoon It lets you find a waterhole. It’s almost clean enough to drink from, if you scoop carefully off the surface. Around the edges you find the signs of many ungulates that came to drink, and even some predators. And you move away a bit and gather a pile of wood for your fire against the night prowlers, and prepare your lair.  Then, as you finally lean back against a log with, perhaps, a little red wine you have left, the sun dies in slow splendour while a black-glad catafalque party...

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A Wonderful Tale about Lidi’s Dream Bean

Lidi de Waal, artist, poetess, muser and oft-savoured Facebook companion carries home little bits and  pieces, and a Sea Bean, from her beach-browse. And some end up in (another) bowl somewhere on a shelf, or on a table, or tucked away in her mind, for later wistful caressing. And some time later, Lidi muses about her browsing, and the Sea Bean, which is really the African Dream Bean, on Facebook and it takes me back to a sweltering hot afternoon on the banks of the Ruvuma River, on the very edge of Mozambique. Back there, in the deep shadows...

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Male Apprenticeship

I had found a generous tree to sleep under, fortuitously a few hundred metres away from the waterhole so that I would disturb visiting animals as little as possible. As the sun began to stretch the shadows eastwards, this bull herd came gently swaying out of the bush in single file, on their way to the water (photographers, please pardon my poor pic). I was downwind from them so they were unaware of my pottering, and when I thought I was ready to make it through the night, I took my binoculars and crept closer to watch them for...

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The Joy of Regeneration

A small breeding herd of elephant; six cows, with two sub-adults, one a young bull. We would fairly regularly come across such evidence of their wanderings – breeding herds, single bulls, small bull groups, and usually just take note with a brief flutter of excitement, perhaps a passing remark. But it was the baby tracks that made me pause here – actually of two, one no more than a week old, the other a month, or so. Perhaps it was just a rare frame of mind I was in – a kind of reflective tenderness, for this subtle evidence...

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A Destination?

For days, it had been a kind of a destination – “towards the Ruvuma.”  But now that we are here, somehow it isn’t. We could actually wade through it with our packs balanced on our heads and just wander on, through more trackless bush. To civilisation and its bureaucrats, it is the is the border with Tanzania, but in this remote wilderness it really is just a place where a large river flows; where river animals like hippos and crocodiles and otters live and where bush animals descend from the steep banks to drink. For us, the closest it...

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The Quiet Moments

The breeze from the south-east lay a chill on the skin and John caught me indulging in some sun-warmth and a bit of reading while my companions worked on the Chief’s warthog (see my previous blog for context). I had taken on John as go-between and translator, but he quickly migrated to snap-taker, tea-maker, grub creator and general fetcher and fixer during rests. I always take at least one book on my wanderings, to colour in those odd inactive hours in a bush-day – the midday rest, the last bit of daylight when the camp is set, maybe some...

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