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 Post subject: Re: Normana & Torticats Northern Exposure - KNP 2012
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:09 pm 
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Well no bush walk today. The desk agent told us the wrong time and when we arrived they had already left. Luckily he wrote the wrong time on our indemnity form, so the manager booked us for the following morning with sincere apologies. Waiting around for an hour made us miss gate opening, but all in all the day was productive.
More of these buggars.
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And lots of these traffic jammers
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We are big fans of the Mongoose, and Torticat was getting concerned that we hadn't seen any yet, then off to the right I caught a blur of movement.
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a short time later we found an outdoor karaoke concert.
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and then had to stop for a Dagga boy traffic jam. They finally decided they had held us up for long enough and left to roadway.

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 Post subject: Re: Normana & Torticats Northern Exposure - KNP 2012
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 3:09 am 
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In defense of the desk staff, we checked in on 31 October. The desk agent wrote down the October time instead of the November time. I considered it an honest mistake. Had been writing to other time for a month, kind of like writing the wrong month on a bank cheque.

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 Post subject: Re: Normana & Torticats Northern Exposure - KNP 2012
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 11:37 am 
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Our first bush walk of this trip meant a very early start. Since we had missed the originally scheduled walk we were rebooked for the following morning. Up well before dawn, we left heading west from camp with Eric and Cecilia.
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We were accompanied by 6 young Italians, who didn't seem very well prepared for a walk in the bush. Tennis shoes, brightly colored clothing and one of the guys had a hideous fuscia colored backpack. When we arrived at our destination Eric gave the instructions for the walk, which had to be translated by the two who could speak English. Then off we went, down the riverbank, through the riverbed, and up a tall steep hill on the other side. When we arrived at the top, we were at an ancient hilltop home/fortress that Eric said had been used centuries ago. All that was left were a few rock walls about waist high. While we caught our breath I spotted a Waterbuck watching us, who quickly disappeared before I could take a picture. Our next sighting was a little easier to get a picture of.
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Both Eric and Cecilia were very knowledgeable and well versed in plants, spoor, scat, birds and animals. After walking a couple of kilometers Eric stopped us in an opening and showed us a group of Dagga boys who were nearby, they were watching us closely and seemed curious as to why we were there and what we were doing.
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Eric decided we should back away, rather than tempt our fate, so off we went to an outcropping above the river where we had snacks and juice. Then down a steep boulder strewn hillside back to the river. On the way we almost ran into two Klipspringer, who took off quickly, and were atop a rock face on the other side of the river in less than a minute.
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When we got to the riverbed, we found some very fresh kitty prints. A leopard had passed by sometime in the night.
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after another half hour we were back at the vehicle and on our way back to camp. Well worth the wait. Eric and Cecilia were amazing.
Then another half hour and we were back at the vehicle.

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 Post subject: Re: Normana & Torticats Northern Exposure - KNP 2012
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:26 am 
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Off To Mopani
We got up early for another morning drive before leaving for Mopani. It was pretty uneventful, and started getting hot pretty early. After the drive we packed up and headed out, deciding to drive the Mingerhout Loop. We almost got attacked by another mob of Terrapins, but made it away before they got ahold of the car. When we got to the overlook above the dam, we spotted three unhappy hippos floating upside down against the dam. We found out later that they were casualties of the Anthrax outbreak, boy did they smell. We drove off before it really got to us.
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After getting away from the smell, the rest of our drive to Mopani was very relaxing and enjoyable, with more Martial Eagles, lots of other birds of different shapes and sizes, along with Buffs, Ellies, and a lot more tortoises.
When we got to Mooiplaas picnic area, we stopped for a short break, IT WAS HOT!!! thermometer said 41c - eish!

Back into the air conditioning and on to Mopani. Check in went smoothly, then a quick trip to the store for Ice Cream and cold drinks. We settled in to our bungalow and relaxed for a while before our game drive. Turns out it was only Torticat and I, so our guide Amos gave us a great drive with lots to see. We both teased him as he was dressed in a dress shirt and slacks, not what you would expect on a game drive. We asked if he had a date after and he just laughed and grinned.
A drive around the Tropic of Capricorn loop produced Wildebeest
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More Kori Bustards
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Zebra
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Ellies, Hartebeest, Black backed Jackal, and lots more. Amos was great, and it turned out that he ended up almost becoming our personal guide for most of the rest of our stay in Kruger. He is very personable and knowledgeable. We even gave him a surprise gift, but that is for later in the report.
After a full day, and a night drive, were were dead tired, and went to bed right after getting back to the bungalow.

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 Post subject: Re: Normana & Torticats Northern Exposure - KNP 2012
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:09 am 
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Thanks for the birthday wishes Barry! And for the kind words and comments, thank you Tedredrum, Kallis1386, Philip1, MM, Hilda, High and Trrp-Trrrrrrr.

It's morning again and we decided to take a look at Shipandani, since we will be spending the night there. When we got to the river and stopped on the road at the waters edge, this fellow made his presence known.
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He wasn't happy that our car tire was less than a meter away, and started growling loudly and blowing bubbles.
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I didn't get any more good pictures of him, but he started opening and closing his mouth forcefully, all the while still growling and snorting. It sounded like he was slapping the water, and he sent water splashing a couple of meters into the air. He finally got tired of us, and disappeared into the depths.

The waters edge had an amazing variety of birds.
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We were excited about our upcoming stay in the Hide, but today was our day to get re-familiarized with the Mopani area. Time for more exploring. more to come

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Last edited by normana53 on Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Normana & Torticats Northern Exposure - KNP 2012
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:21 am 
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We decided to drive to Mooiplaas windmill, as we had been told that Lions were seen there the evening before. When we arrived there wasn't much there, but we just stopped and waited. soon some Ellies showed up for a drink and a shower.
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Over to the left we spotted another Kori Bustard, who was wearing a mink stole
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After the Ellies walked away from the waterhole, a Bateleur flew down and took a quick bath, he then proceeded into a tree where he hung his clothes out to dry.
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No lions came to greet us, so we headed out for another drive on the Tropic of Capricorn loop.
I can just never get tired of this place. I feel like I am home here.

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 Post subject: Re: Normana & Torticats Northern Exposure - KNP 2012
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2012 11:28 pm 
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THanks everyone for the birthday wishes. It was a nice day. tedredrum, kallis1786, trrp-trrrrrrrr, Pumba, Philip1, Elsa, Barrels, Hilda, Sharifa, Grantmissy & MM I appreciate you joining Torticat and I for this adventure.
We drove a short way from the Mooiplaas windmill and turned off at one of the Nshawa waterholes. When we got to the end of the little road, we could see a number of Tsessebe's, Impala and Zebras in the distance along with a lone Ellie. The Tsessebe's moved closer to us and we realized there was a Tsessebaby with them.
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The adults were at the spa getting a mud bath
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Dod was looking quite handsome
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Tsessebaby couldn't decide whether to join in
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she did, and we were very worried she would become mired and wouldn't be able to get back out, but she managed just fine, and off they all went.

Next up a LONG drive to Stapelkop Dam.

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 Post subject: Re: Normana & Torticats Northern Exposure - KNP 2012
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 5:05 am 
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Stapelkop Dam
We decided to take a drive out to Stapelkop Dam, and then head back to Mopani since we had a very early morning wake up for our second Bush Walk of this holiday. What a long and lonely road, we didn't even see many birds until we reached an amazing oasis
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We continued on our way, and drove for what seemed an eternity before we arrived at a peaceful and beautiful scene.
Our only companions were enjoying a day at the beach.
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Someone had decorated the Christmas tree with white ornaments
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And then a large choir came to sing early Christmas carols
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Led by a flamboyant director
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We enjoyed watching the chorus, and the comings and goings of Warties, Zebra and Impala.
We saw a lot of birds including a large number of Open Billed Stork.
After a couple of hours of peaceful solitude we headed back towards Mopani, and were greeted by this handsome long necked fellow
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Next Up an amazing bush walk!

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 Post subject: Re: Normana & Torticats Northern Exposure - KNP 2012
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 9:18 am 
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tedredrum, Pumbaa, hilda, MM and Trrp-trrrrrrr,
thanks for staying with us on our adventure, and for the kind words.

Bush Walk #2
It seems like my head just hit the pillow and now the alarm is telling me it's time to get up for our Mopani bush walk. We have to be at reception at 4:15. Yesterday on the way to Stapelkop Dam the thermometer in the car read 47c, if it gets that hot again we will drop dead from the heat somewhere in the bush.

Shortly after we arrive at reception a safari vehicle arrives, driven by our new friend Amos who has brought Frank, one of the Game Rangers who works out of Mopani. Amos's regular field guide partner is on holiday so Frank has been enlisted to be the second. He is armed with an automatic rifle and enough bullets to stop an army. As we load up, Amos tells us it will just be Torticat and I once again. This might prove to be interesting.
We drove to the Confluence lookout and parked at the end of the loop. After a short walk north, we went down the river bank, and up the other side into the bush.
Lots of birds, and a few Impala were spotted when we reached the top of the opposite bank, after walking along the bank for a few minutes it was into the bush and away from the river. First thing we spotted was a Verreaux's Eagle Owl, who watched us closely as we walked in a line with Amos in the lead. After walking for about ten minutes we came upon a Giraffe carcass. Amos said that it had died of old age.
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Torticat and I were both fascinated, you just don't get this opportunity when you are sitting in a vehicle.
She filmed the carcass and got closeups of skull, teeth and body, though I doubt any of our friends will be interested. :)
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Amos and frank found some of the Giraffes tail hairs to show us, they were long and felt as strong as fishing line. Torticat was proud of her restraint, as she didn't try to sneak out Giraffe teeth, skull, hooves, tail hairs or pieces of hide. :shock:
Soon we were off heading further into the bush. Next we spotted more Impala, who quickly ran the opposite direction. Oh look a turtle shell
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We were now over an hour and a half into our walk, and had traveled quite a ways into the bush. Amos and Frank seemed pleased that we were so interested in small things, and in their stories. We got to a bush and Amos broke off a small bit and had us smell it. It smelled terrible. He told us that it used to be called the Cat Pee bush, and said that Lion will often lay down in the bush near waterholes, as it is so foul smelling that it masks their smell. He laughed and said they now call it the Zebra Sweat bush to be more proper. :lol:
Soon we heard and saw a large herd of Cape Buffalo coming in our direction. Amos had us sit up against a large dead bush and we all watched as the came closer, not knowing that we were there. Soon they were about 30 meters in front of us, and more began to move closer on both sides of where we sat, still unaware of our presence. As we sat motionless, more and more closed in around us, with a number of them within 20 meters behind us, and 50 or 60 more to the other side probably 40 meters away. The lead two who were directly in front of us, kept looking in our direction, like they knew something was there, but they were unsure what it was. I was able to take this one picture, but didn't dare take any more afraid they would hear the shutter when I took pictures.
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Insects were landing on us and biting. Soon Frank, the Game Ranger slapped the side of his face to get rid of one of the biting flies. The slap sounded like a gun shot and the Buffs realized we were there, those directly in front of us turned around and stampeded off, with the other couple hundred following behind. It sounded like a freight train, and they were running past us on both sides. It was scary and exciting all at the same time.
Amos led us off in a direction paralleling the Buffalo and we kept getting glimpses of them crashing through the bush. My heart felt like it was going to pound out of my chest.
More to come soon............

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Too many days before we return, can't wait for September to come home to Kruger


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 Post subject: Re: Normana & Torticats Northern Exposure - KNP 2012
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 3:45 am 
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Bush Walk #2 Continued
This is Amos
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This is Frank
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Amos and frank showed us a Ellie bull bed on the side of a large dirt mound, you could see where they rested their tusks.
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We found a Kori bustard walking thru the bush, and also saw Martial Eagles, Tawny eagle, Ground Hornbills in a tree, and a number of other things.
While walking through pretty heavy cover, frank motioned for us to stop. Amos and frank whispered for a moment and then pointed out a lone bull who was in musth. We were downwind and behind him, so he didn't know we were there. We stayed very quiet, very still and waited until he started moving again, then we went in the opposite direction.
We continued on and working our way to the northwest, eventually came upon two Honey Badger, one immediately ran away from us. the second one however seemed oblivious to our close proximity, as he was busy digging up a scorpion for breakfast. he finally looked up and came our direction tail held high, until Amos shoo'd him off in the other direction. Amos then told us that two of the game Rangers were once on bicycle patrol in the bush when a Honey Badger charged them aggressively, they used their bikes to try and push him away, but he kept up the attack, actually pulling the tires from the bikes. They finally abandoned their bikes and climbed the nearest tree!
This was what the Honey Badgers were digging for, or at least what was left of their prey.
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Amos told us that this was the first time in eleven years of Guiding that he had seen a Honey Badger while on foot. We were happy that we could share our good Ratel Karma with Amos.
At this point we had been walking for over 4 hours, and I was wondering when we would be heading back towards the vehicle. After a while longer we made it back to the riverbed, though nowhere near where we started. Amos pointed out some nice hyena tracks, which gave Torticat the opportunity to ask if she could make a plaster casting. Amos and frank indulged her request and she was able to get a great footprint for her collection. While she did, I took a few photos.
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Another half hour and we were back at the vehicle. I took this right before we got back, Torticat, Frank and Amos.
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What an amazing morning, Amos is an amazing guide with lots of great information and stories. Frank was the silent type, but when he talked it was always to point our something great. We were excited from our adventure packed morning, and looking forward to the coming day and our stay at Shipandani Hide.

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 Post subject: Re: Normana & Torticats Northern Exposure - KNP 2012
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 12:30 pm 
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Wow, surrounded by Buffs, and then Honey badgers..........awesome stuff!! :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Normana & Torticats Northern Exposure - KNP 2012
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 4:38 am 
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After our walk we headed out to Mooiplaas windmill again to see what we could find. After a short wait with only birds near the water trough we saw a lone lioness walking towards the water. We had her all to ourselves and got some great photos.
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Torticat said it was obvious that she was lactating, though we never saw any babies. We did watch her abdomen grow as she drank what Torticat had to be at least 10 liters of water. She was beautiful, and after drinking her fill, she stopped to look at something in the water
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and then headed into the tall grass, where she vanished. We waited for a long while but she never reappeared.

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 Post subject: Re: Normana & Torticats Northern Exposure - KNP 2012
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 4:47 am 
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From the windmill, we continued out and around the Tropic of Capricorn loop. As usual it was full of our four legged friends.
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Another Honey Badger dashed past and paused to say Hello.
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We enjoy driving this loop, and it has always been productive for us.

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 Post subject: Re: Normana & Torticats Northern Exposure - KNP 2012
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 4:23 pm 
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Another drive around the tropic loop before clearing out of our room and heading to the hide. Black backed jackal, Lichtenstein Hartebeest, wildebeest, Kori bustard, chestnut back sparrow lark, temminck's Courser, Shaft tailed Whydah, Purple Indigobird, Tsessebe's.
We headed back to Mopani to check out of our room and then do laundry. One of the staff noticed we were using a washing machine that apparently doesn't work well. He took his own clothes out of the other washer and offered us his. I am sorry that I didn't get his name, but he was driving a large Sanparks dump truck. What a kind gesture :clap: . The kindness of some of the SanParks staff never ceases to amaze me, his actions were well beyond the call of duty! :thumbs_up:
Torticat got the scare of her life when she was in the car near the store and someone tapped on the window :shock: It was Crested Val :dance: Torticat came back to the laundry and picked me up so we could meet Val and Dungy at the restaurant for a bite to eat. What a wonderful visit, with a wonderful couple!
It was soon time to head for Shipandani for our adventure. We picked up our bedding and headed to the hide to survey our home for the night.
When we arrived at the river we spotted many birds, as well as Crocs and Hipsters. Near the road were Hadeda Ibis, Thick-knee, Little Egret, Great Egret, Yellow-billed Egret, African Open bill, Spoonbill, a Goliath Heron sitting in a tree near the water, a lone Ellie who came down to the water down a steep embankment to the north of the hide, a large group of Waterbuck, and in the hide our roommate for the night, a very small frog that we couldn't identify.
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It is a serene and soothing view from the hide. Now it's time to unpack and ready our beds, have a bite to eat, check out our new home and spy on the neighbors.

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 Post subject: Re: Normana & Torticats Northern Exposure - KNP 2012
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 9:41 pm 
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Overnight at shipandani hide.

We settled in to our new accommodation and sat back to enjoy the view, lots of birds, snorting hippos, and the occasional Croc cruising past. Out near the parking area was a group of WaterBuck
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We set up our little mosquito tents, and arranged things so that we could enjoy our evening. The wind started picking up, and really began to blow. Our dinner was a quick bite in the small Boma under the tree as we watched dark clouds rolling in on the strong winds. It was a quiet night, except for the very strong winds, the thunder and lighting, and finally torrential rain. Pitch black and cloudy, we couldn't even gaze at the stars.
The great thing about it was we were alone, away from any man-made noises or lights, serenaded by the Hippo chorus, grunting, gurgling and snorting the night away. At one point we could hear something moving just in front of the hide, when we switched on our torch, a hippo was grazing on the grass between the hide and the water. You could really hear him as he grazed.

A while after falling asleep, I woke up and in the darkness I saw a light moving along the opposite side of the water. Half asleep, it appeared to be someone walking along with a lantern. I put on my glasses and watched, realizing it was not a person but only a firefly. Back to sleep within moments, when I woke up in the morning, I had a hard time deciding if that had just been a dream, or if it was real.
The strong winds kept the mosquitoes away, but other night flying creatures were continually flying into the sides of our little tents with loud thumps and lots of buzzing. You would think that with the rain and all of the wind it would be cool, but it was hot and humid enough that you were forced to lay on top of our duvet and blankets. Good thing we had the mosquito tents!
4:30 came early, we packed up and said goodbye to Shipandani.

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