After a good night’s sleep in the Mole Motel (the only accommodation inside Mole National Park), I was up at 6AM on October 6th to meet up with the five German girls again. We ordered breakfast from the little motel restaurant, but they were so slow they hadn’t even boiled the water for the instant coffee by the time we had to leave to catch the 7AM walking safari in the park. The six of us joined three other pairs of tourists plus a park guide named Adam, and set off to see some wildlife. Over the course of almost four hours, we saw a few antelopes, warthogs, baboons, a monkey in the distance, and some birds.
But of course, the main goal was to see elephants! The park guides all carry mobile phones with them, so they call each other to find out who’s seen elephants and then the others can head that way. This makes it far more likely for tourists to see elephants. Once another guide had called Adam to tell him where he’d spotted a group of five male elephants by a watering hole, we headed that way. The only problem was the big marsh, complete with narrow but fast-flowing river running through, that stood between us and the watering hole in the far distance. After a bit of discussion, we decided to risk ruining our shoes by sloshing through the mud and swamp water, and carefully crossing the river which came up higher than my knees. I was glad to be wearing my knee brace, as I could feel my kneecap trying to dislocate from the lateral pressure of the water while I slowly made my way across – it definitely wouldn’t have held out on its own.
We eventually made it all the way to the watering hole and spent a fair bit of time observing the five elephants, the largest of whom had a ridiculously long left tusk, showing his old age.
Having had our fill of elephant-watching, we headed back toward the park motel, crossing through a different part of the marsh and then another river that was much less powerful, but a fair bit wider and deeper than the first one. This time the water came halfway up my thighs!
On arriving back at the motel, I spent a full hour in my bathroom washing the mud out of my only pair of shoes, plus my socks and trousers, then left them out to dry in the sun. I also saw a non-colourful agama lizard outside my room; I’ve seen a LOT of agamas in different countries, as far east as Uganda and as far west as Côte d’Ivoire (they can be found even farther in each direction, I just haven’t been that far!), but they’ve always been quite brightly coloured… purple, blue, red, orange, but this was the first time I’d seen one which seems to have had his colours taken away:
In the afternoon, the German girls invited me to join them for a canoe trip on a nearby river, so we all jumped into (and onto) a Nissan 4×4 vehicle with a park guide and headed to a small village outside the park to pick up two of villagers who would take us in their canoes. While we waited for the two men, the village chief suggested we get a good view of his village by climbing up these steps onto a roof of questionable structural integrity:
The canoe trip was very relaxing. We saw a few birds, including a kingfisher (I’ve now seen different types of kingfisher on every continent I’ve visited), and a bunch of kids playing in the water.
On the dusk drive back to the park motel, I got to sit on the roof with two of the German girls, who chatted with me about the challenges of assimilating refugees and other immigrants into German and Swedish society.
Back at the motel we watched the sunset and were visited by a baboon looking for food.
The six of us then ate dinner, three of us had a quiet beer, and by 9PM we had all gone to bed exhausted.
To be continued…