12.04.2014 - 20.05.2014 31 °C
This morning we were up early and out at the water. We saw many of the same birds as the previous day and were treated to glimpses of the Goliath heron. This bird stands up to 1.5m tall and is the largest Heron in the world. This guy was big, but very shy. The fish eagles were all over the place!
After we’d made coffee on the road (the park was deserted except for the few fishermen we had passed) we tried the lake loop road, which on our semi-accurate map had a fork after about 50km that took you right up to the lake edge. We followed this road for about 1.5hrs and were up to about 65km. A ranger vehicle passed us on the way (the other fork of the road led to the Western side of the park to one of the ranger posts). We puled over, took stock, and decided either the map was incorrect or we had missed an invisible turn. We turned around since we figured there was a strong possibility we were heading out to the Western ranger post some 100km away. The brush was thick and there wasn’t much to see. Our goal had been to reach the lake and hang out there for the day but we cut our losses and headed back.
Midday we went back to check out the Hippo Bay campsite- we had arrived a day ahead of our reservation so we thought maybe the crew was going to fix up the campsite this morning. They had cut the grass but otherwise it looked pretty much the same as yesterday. We headed down the other road that led to the Lodge where we found the crew relaxing in the wicker chairs and napping. They had said that the plan was to have us camp at the lodge site, which was in very good shape. We found out later they had warm showers and even internet. We had done a lot of driving lately so I was very happy to spend the night at this site. We opted out of an afternoon drive and decided instead to take in the sunset from the campsite, which was right on the water.
The staff at the lodge were very nice and were there getting the lodge ready to open in a month's time. One of the guys told me that the fishermen we saw pay a monthly fee of about 20USD to the local people to fish on the lake. The camp staff buy fish from them every few days and it is a main part of their diet out there when the lodge is closed. Most of the staff are from Lusaka, which is quite a distance away, and the fishermen are from the town on the opposite side of the lake, Itezhi Tezhi (the name of the lake and the town).
We discovered these small almost see through white frogs in the bathroom- they looked like tree frogs with sticky pads on each of their toes- they were all over the place once it started to get dark.
In the evening I had been sitting at the picnic table working on my computer and listening to the hippo sounds. I quickly climbed in the tent when it sounded as if the hippos were on the other side of a nearby bush. We lay in the tent for a long time listening to them and the next morning I could see all their tracks on the other side of the bush and in the reeds 20m in front of the tent. We had done a quick tour of the property when we had arrived and the permanent tent next to where we camped, separated by some think bushes, was evidently a hippo highway. We heard them over there, making a huge amount of noise just after sunset. We heard them as they headed out to feed for the night and just before sunrise, heading back to the water for the day.