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Bright and early, we flew from Cape Town to the Durban airport, named after Shaka Zulu.  An  Attila the Hun sort of a guy, he tried to bring all the Zulu tribes under his dictate; it was a very bloody empire and did not survive him.  Just so you know, very little of his territory was in what is now South Africa, so this wasn’t a “native vs. white invaders” thing.   South Africa was very underpopulated and a wild country; no one really wanted it until they all wanted it.  You can read popular history of South Africa in James Michener’s The Covenant.



A good read

About 2 hours ahead of sundown, we arrived at the St. Lucia Estuary, a sort of fistula of the Indian Ocean on Africa’s east coast, though it is sweet water.  As soon as we approached the water, we saw hippos, yes HIPPOPOTAMI!!  They are enormous, ugly, beasts, left over from the Pleistocene era of mammal gigantism. [as are elephants and rhinos]. 

             
Hippos in the St. Lucia Estuary

We climbed on the boat, a large version of The African Queen, [book by Forster, who wrote the Hornblower series], with the awning and the noisy motor.  There were about 50 of us, rather than Bogart and Hepburn.  We then saw the full pod, which included babies.  Our 2 hour cruise [♪♫♪♪♫] took us up the estuary and back down the other side.  Each hippo pod has its own area, rather like any suburban neighborhood.  The hippos lounge in the water all day, but only feed at night, when they come onshore to graze.  It is then that they are the most dangerous to people.  And with the sun setting in the west, we stayed aboard our boat.  We saw 1 small Nile crocodile as well.  These are extinct now in the Nile itself, but were a big deal in ancient Egypt, where they and the hippos were greatly [and justly] feared.

There were also many many birds.

A fishing eagle


African Pied Wagtail


Egrets


And, finally, a hippo skull on the boat






Back on the bus, we drove to the charming Hluhluwe Protea hotel.  Hluhluwe is pronounced Shu-shu-we of course, sort of like the Phil Colllins song.  We had a splendid meaty dinner polished off by bread pudding.  This is the Africaans cuisine; who needs veg anyway?

God’s own country.