We were up and at the observation deck’s balcony by 6am. A small mongoose made its way across the bai possibly looking for an early morning snack. We sat there for a few hours and watched the thousands of birds swoop in and out of the bai, making a grand whooshing noise as they turned their wings in unison as a flock. One of the most prominent birds was a red-tailed grey parrot, which is on the WWF’s class A protected species list (highest class protection). Thinking how this morning ritual goes on daily in this beautiful place gave comfort as the cares of modern world faded into what seemed like a long forgotten memory.
We set off for Petite Savane, this time at a slower pace, reaching the observation deck by the early afternoon. It was a quiet afternoon of sitting on the deck and waiting for animals to come along. We heard elephants but did not see them, and used the binoculars to check out some really beautiful birds in the savanna. Ben used his water purifier to make clean drinking water from a stream, filling up a whole gallon to use for the remainder of our hike. During the hike our Baka guide showed us his preferred method of purifying water. He looked around and found a plant he simply called “plant that provides water” (we look forward to properly identifying it when we return home). He cut a piece about a meter long and out came the water, enough for us all to get a drink.
We set up camp at a small clearing which the ecoguards maintain. We made dinner in a pot over a campfire. The guards and porters mashed up some cassava (manioc is another name), making a fine powder. When mixed with hot water it makes a thick paste, almost like wet dough. They dipped this into a spiced tomato sauce and palm oil (everything is made with palm oil here, it’s so readily available being harvested locally). It was actually pretty delicious! After dinner, we shared stories and jokes, with our guide being the translator between English and French.