We start our second day in the Moremi Game Reserve cooking the seven eggs that (in no small feat) survived the great egg explosion of the day before. Little fighters. Our camp is different than we remember from the night before—so much easier to navigate by day. The ablution facilities have showers. Vervet monkeys hang around everywhere. I even spot one in the rafters above me as I’m using the toilet. We’ve all slept well, despite the noises and the vivid dreams caused by our malaria medicine. Micah swears the serval we spotted on our drive the night before snuck into his tent while he was sleeping and bit his foot.
Things are looking up. We follow a “main road” from Xakanaxa Campsite, which basically means that it’s more frequently used by trucks like ours. Still rugged, still bumpy, and still made out of very deep sand.
In the light, these main roads are easier to recognize. Or so we think. One of us makes a comment that knowing a main road from a side road really is easier in the daylight, as we take a “main road” into a private camp and come upon a man, fully naked, taking a shower.
Ok, maybe not as easy as we thought, but we’re on some road, and we see a sign for a place that we can’t pronounce, but which looks to us like “Baba Ganoush.” So, we’re off towards Baba Ganoush and it winds us for about an hour through a leafy forest. There’s not much game to see, but it’s very beautiful. We stop to gather firewood, and upon opening the back of our truck, realize that there are spaghetti noodles and pieces of soap e v e r y w h e r e. Some of the noodles are salvageable, so we take what we can, re-secure our trusty, plastic grocery bags and press on.
Leaving the forest, we come upon a large body of water in the bushveld, and I spot what I think are two hippos lounging on the shore.
We’ve learned by our second day in Moremi that playing the Lion King Soundtrack calls the animals to us, so with that looping in the background, we pull over to see what happens. What happens is the sound of about 15 hippos charging into the water in fear of us. It is a sound like we’ve never heard before. They are everywhere—or parts of them. Just eyes and ears poking up out of the water so that they resemble bears.
As we follow the road by the water, we find more and more hippos. Hippo herds. Hippos bathing and hippos swimming. Hippo babies! This, we think, is the real Hippo Pool.
We take a wrong turn, or don’t take a turn, or take one too many turns and end up about 30 kilometers away from our original scouted drive. The plan was to circle around the southeastern part of the reserve and make it back to our camp before sunset—for the first time. Just to see what it’s like to set up camp without flashlights. The anticipation!
We follow roads until we find ourselves somehow back at the Third Bridge Camp, just as we were the night before. But, since we’re now experts at the route from Third Bridge to Xakanaxa, we know we can be back by 5:30 for our second night at the camp, even though it requires taking Bridges 3 and 4, which sound like they are legit breaking under us when we cross them.
We do make it to our campsite with daylight to spare, and toast to our second full day with some sundowners, set up camp, and then wait about an hour for the water to boil for our soap-pasta dinner. Those bloody stovetop burners. Didn’t we fix them?
It’s also time to inspect the refrigerator. And added to the list of things that have exploded in the back of the truck is now a glass bottle of olive oil, a can of bugspray, and about 3 cans of sparkling water. We start keeping a tally, but continue to put glass containers in the fridge and keep our groceries slamming around in the bed of the truck.
We settle in around our campfire, and our camp neighbor scolds us for being too loud. Or, in fact, she says, “We are going to sleep now and you are very loud and we got no sleep last night because the hyenas kept us awake.” We feel bad until we realize it’s only 7:30pm. But, that’s how it goes out in the camps. The sun’s down, the predators are out, and everybody tucks up for the night about 8:00. To see the big cats, you’ve got to get up early, so that’s what we plan for the next day: up at 5:30, leave by 6:00 and make our way out of Moremi Game Reserve in search of our next camp in Kwhai.