The nights here are cool enough to sleep. But the forest outside my tent is anything but quiet. Weird squeaks and howls, hooting owls, cracking sticks, something munching. It sounds big enough to be an elephant, although I’m told it’s probably an anteater or a small deer. “If it were an elephant, you wouldn’t hear it,” points out one of the guides here at camp.
At 4am, the sky starts to lighten and the cacophony gets louder. The cicadas rev up, sounding like tiny electric generators, picking up steam and volume. They’re almost deafening – a steady, high-pitched thrum. And apparently when the cicadas are up and going this early, it’s going to be a hot day.
Dawn is misty, making everything feel like it’s covered in a thick, wet blanket. That doesn’t last long – at 7am, as we get ready to go out into the bush again, the sun emerges and the temperature ratchets up a few more notches. When we reach our destination, after a jaw-snapping, bone-rattling ride over another one-lane, dirt road, it’s hotter still. And as we get out of the truck, the wind picks up, making the air feel like a hair dryer. Still, it’s welcome relief, as it evaporates sweat from my already soggy shirt.
In the meantime, the men I’m with are wearing long sleeves, long pants, in dark olive green. No one appears to be breaking a sweat. But for me, the heat is oppressive, engulfing. It’s all you can think about. I'm longing for the inches of snow they got in Denver, ice cold showers, popsicles. I drink water like it’s, well, water and I sweat it out just as quickly.
No matter. We’re still going out for a walk and we’ll stay out there till we find what we’re looking for…
- Samango monkeys
- Red daikur
- Fish eagle