Somewhere in the distance, from the safety of the Shire, a hippo snorts a warning not to intrude on his territory. Nearby other hippos slowly change course, as do two half submerged crocodiles gliding silently downstream in the night. Close by tiny insects buzz their melodious sounds to signal they own part the night, in spite of their tiny size. An occasional mosquito buzzes a warning nearby, searching guiltlessly for a victim to approach unseen. An owl hidden high in a safe spot chimes his repetitious, “who”, “who”, is there as his big eyes search the darkness?
Waterbuck move closer to the protection of the river, bushbuck back into the forest, and zebra form protective circles with which to shield themselves from the unknown. As foreigners in this land of the unknown we pull blankets tighter around our necks, and pretend we are locked in a safe place… at least for now. It works until someplace deeper in the forest twigs snap, and the piercing sounds of rival elephants echo back and forth through the trees, vibrating the ground, and grabbing us in a chest tightening grip of fright. For a moment forest sounds stop, holding their breath in awe of these giants of giants, and then the coo of a who, who, who slowly begins again. Other sounds grow brave, and soon it all accelerates as it slowly stirs out of the fear of itself.
The sun has moved west to hide from view, daylight has rapidly disappeared behind distant branches, and the dangers of the night have begun to rule all things dark and dangerous. It is Africa, and in this ancient land the sights and sounds of long ago still reverberate through the night. David Livingstone, and his party of explorers heard them as his boat made its way through shallow waters, past dangerous coves, and close to unknown riverbanks. Hearing the same sounds were tribal villagers who had lived and hunted near this great river for hundreds of years. Tonight… our turn.