The call of the hyenas

The call of the hyenas

the journey is the goal

It’s six o’clock in the morning, heavy, dark clouds hang low in the dawn sky and a cool wind blows through the camp. It looks like rain, but we decide to start walking anyway.

It doesn’t take long until we encounter a herd of giraffes. We approach them quietly. Naturally, the giraffes spotted us first, and after critical consideration, they seem to have decided that we pose them no danger. They allow us to join them for a while. Aside from the usual morning chatter of the birds, all is quiet. Suddenly the tranquility is shattered by the howl of a hyena and loud alarm calls from a troupe of baboons. Could it be that a leopard is on the prowl?

The sounds are coming from a patch of forest on the opposite side of a wide stretch of water. At this time of the year the water levels are relatively high, so we decide that circumnavigating the channel is a safer route. Walking briskly, we make our way along a stand of trees. Time is of the essence. We can still hear the baboon alarm calls in regular intervals.

When we have passed the trees, we discover that this way, too, is cut off by a channel of water. At this point, our shoes are already wet, and our curiosity is too strong. As long as the water isn’t too deep, we should be able to wade across. At first, we make good progress, but before long, the water becomes knee deep, the muddy bottom is slippery and the high grasses block our view. If only we were a bit taller, like the giraffes! Our shoes are soaked and heavy, full of mud and fine sand. But we can still hear the cries of the baboons, and that motivates us to continue.

Now it begins to drizzle. I hope it doesn’t get worse, because that would be dire to the camera. Finally, after about half an hour, we have crossed the waters. We feel solid ground under our feet again and it isn’t far to the source of the commotion. But now the baboons have dispersed and we are surrounded by stillness. 

There won’t be a leopard sighting this morning. Today the journey is the goal. After another hour of trudging through the mud we are surprised by the camp team. They have prepared a bush picnic lunch for us! A delicious warm meal is sizzling on the fire and only now do we realize how hungry we are. No creation by a star chef in a luxury restaurant could possibly taste better!

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