Watch out for the Hippos!

Trip Start May 20, 2010
Trip End Sep 05, 2011

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Flag of South Africa  , KwaZulu-Natal,
Friday, July 8, 2011


Day : 418
Temperature : 18 degrees
Weather : Mixed

After spending another day in Umkomaas to get some shopping we squished all of our stuff into the car until the point whereby we didn't actually have any space to put our feet and poor Lynsey had a pile of things next to her so high that it reached the roof of the car. What a state! But we happily headed north to St Lucia, about 3 hours drive north of Durban and arrived early evening.

We found a hotel which did us a super deal for only 15 per person and even has a resident leopard which apparently uses the roof as a den. The following day we set out to explore the area which is renowned for its’ wetland wildlife, including beach dwelling hippos and crocs! In fact the hippos are actually known to do a bit of window shopping in the streets of the town during the night…not that we stayed up to see, as we were too tired the night before that we all hit the sack early.

The wandered down the windswept beach, and although it was a tad too chilly for us to go swimming there were plenty local kids boogie boarding in the surf, as well as people fishing and families having picnics on the sand. Next we explored the other side of town, near the estuary where we quickly spotted some adult and baby hippos on a little island in the middle of the river quite close to where we were standing.  After speaking to some South Africans we discovered that the hippos were out and about on the beach.  We wandered down the boardwalk and onto the beach and saw the hippos about 200 metres away across the sand having a snooze. We cautiously crept up close, staying downwind of them, as close as we felt was safe…..about 20 metres or so, bearing in mind that hippos are pretty fast runners and we would be in a spot of bother if they became agitated.  They remained fast asleep although one particular hippo had clocked us, and we slowly retreated back not wanting to disturb them.

In the afternoon we piled in the car once again heading further north, making it as far at Piet Retief, a town with a distinctly edgy feel to it. We found a hotel which was run by a lovely Indian family for the night, thankful to only be spending a night in the town. Tomorrow we would be heading even further north.
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