On the bright side, your husband may snore, but at least he doesn’t chew the cud (not regularly anyway). In the early hours of this morning, I woke to a sort of grinding, snorting and stomping and struggled to remember where I was. Through the tent flaps, the moon was reflected off the glassy surface of the Zambezi; a yellow glow from dust and the smoke of dry-season fires. Crawling out of my sleeping bag to gingerly open the zip, I peered outside and found myself at about gut-level with an old male buffalo, about 10 feet away.
I had been dying to spend a penny for about 2 hours, but the whoops of hyena and the sounds of buffalo and hippo grunting just a stone’s throw from my pillow, had counselled a near bed-wetting strategy of staying put and thinking of deserts. Finally, I slithered out of my tent and paused. The buffalo languidly turned to look at me, and in a semi ducked position, I kept my eyes on him as I side-stepped 3 steps right, and then a couple of steps back until I was just on the other side of the tent, though still peering round the corner and geared for flight. We both observed a respectful truce, and I executed an equally undignified return to the opening of the tent and flung myself through the gap, heart racing.
Apparently this is a fairly typical night in Mana Pools on the Lower Zambezi. Helping with a game count of the park, I have spent the last couple days walking through one of Zimbabwe’s best wildlife destinations, and can confirm that it lives up to expectations in every way. Watch this space for more.