Saturday, March 27, 2010


Caught up with Kenya.... and last weekend I went back to Swaziland, this time to Hlane reserve - where there's no electricity except a modicum for the restaurant provided by solar powered batteries - the restaurant closes promptly at eight o'clock and everyone goes to bed. The thatch-roofed cottages are lit with paraffin lamps and there's nowhere to recharge a phone or camera batteries - life before electricity must've been tough. You can hear lions roaring not that far away but they're behind a fence, in theory (although a waiter told me the fence had come down in a storm a few nights earlier - so how good a fence can it be?). You're woken in the morning by impala coughing gently as they graze the grass outside your front door.

Guides take you on bush walks (armed with a knobkerry, which is another version of a short stick). I'm starting to vastly prefer walking to driving in a land rover, because you see more detail and you never know what you're going to stumble across - in Hlane we stumbled at one point upon a rhino, a mere six metres or so away with nothing between us except some scrubby bushes and thin trees. The guide held up his hand, which is the signal to stop, and we stood watching the rhino for five very long minutes - and the rhino stood watching us, turning its head from side to side to get a better view. Then the guide eventually beckoned us away. This was exhilirating. I suppose the guides know their animals and don't take undue risks with their customers, but it certainly felt very different from looking at a rhino in a zoo. I didn't take any photos because I found that I wanted quite strongly to stay focused on what the rhino was doing and be completely ready to run if necessary; recording the experience became very much a secondary consideration.

Above: impala, insects, plants, hippo skull, two hippo skulls.

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