Shinde

Shinde means tree squirrel and is a magical place indeed. The land is still semi arid but the delta runs through everywhere so there is a lushness which is missing from the Haina camp. To be fair though, when you have water you can be more “lush”!
The camp is built up on stilts for the most part and I’m sure that high water has something to do with it but it also might have a fair bit to do with the resident elephants. When I say resident, I really mean it! There are two male elephants;Snorty and Snuffles who wander at will through the camp, eating trees, visiting for dinner, breathing – HEAVILY- at night and generally making life interesting. Our first night Snorty pushed over a tree onto Phil and Jane’s porch and partly onto their tent. He then spent the rest of the night stripping the leaves and bark from his tree so I doubt they got a lot of sleep. Between the aircraft problems and now Snorty I wonder if they are feeling like they are being set up for the big number three?
We all then settled nicely into the safari routine; up at 5:30, a light breakfast and out on the first drive of the day by 6:30. Back at 11ish for brunch and a little R&R then High Tea and another activity and sundowners – basically cocktails and snacks from the back of the land rover, back to camp for dinner and sometimes another night drive.Did I mention the food? We are talking both serious quality and quantity. You do try to exhibit some self control but all that fresh air makes you hungry! That’s my story & I’m sticking to it!
We spent quite a lot of time with a mother hyena and her cub – even hyenas look adorable as babies. Some of us took a power boat ride out into the delta – papyrus reeds swishing overhead, brilliant blue skies, sweet water and birds galore. Barbara and I took a dugout canoe ride with one of the guides poling us along and giving us commentary. Completely different experience than the power boat and quite naturally focused down to the small and quiet. We looked at plants, watched tiny frogs and giant dragonflies, gingerly trailed our fingers in the water and drank chilled Sauvignon Blanc. The delta is like a vast water purification system, even in the deepest spots we could see clear down to the bottom, and the water lilies have to be seen to be believed. Interestingly it doesn’t smell like a swamp at all and the only skanky spots are near the gannet nests – their guano also has to be smelled to be believed!
The reason we were tentative about putting our fingers in the water is because there are really big crocodiles in those channels – 3 meters is about average, and there are 4 meter ones reported frequently – that’s bigger than the dugout!! We did get very up close and personal with a youngster of only about a meter and a half. It was just basking in the sun on a floating mat of vegetation and let us get within a foot or so. Awesome pictures!

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