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Published: June 13th 2017
Geo: -28.7863, 32.0966
Saturday 30/01/09 Richards Bay - South Africa Temp Air 27°C
Arrived 07:00 at what we're told is the largest coal loading facility in the southern hemisphere, seems a strange place to berth but it's able to accommodate larger vessels with ease and is closer to most of KwaZulu-Natal game reserves. The trains bring the coal from the mines approx. 200mls away and they're enormous some are over 2kms long, they're so long that they're not allowed to stop, they load and unload on the move and even drivers shift changes are carried out whilst moving, albeit slowly, the reason being that the engines cannot generate sufficient power to pull the vast amount of wagons from a standing start. We were told that the previous week they had a major derailment which they've only just cleared, it took that long, but there again the train was hauling 400,000 tonnes, can you believe that 400,000 tonnes! Anyway I digress.
Today we're off to the St Lucia Wetlands for a river trip along lake St Lucia home to crocs, hippos, reef sharks, and all manner of birds & animals. It's a blistering hot day even on the river so we
elected to stay below under the canopy; it's all open so there's plenty of breeze and unrestricted access for taking photos. We'd only been left the landing stage for 3 minutes when the cry went up "handbag overboard" some geriatric upstairs had put her handbag on the floor and as we made a slight turn it rolled off "plop," by the time we had come around and I had grabbed a landing net I fished out the only two things left bobbing about in the water, a bottler of water and some sun tan cream, much to most peoples amusement.
Within 5 minutes we sighted our first croc swimming parallel to the bank seemingly unperturbed by our presence. We went on to see and were able to get extremely close to crocs and numerous groups of hippo's with their young, in addition to numerous varieties of birds, herons, waders, pied kingfishers and some stunning close up encounters with fish eagles. On the return leg we noticed something bulky swimming across the river some distance in front of us and in next to no time a lower profile emerged a little distance behind it but making up ground rapidly. Looking
through the binoculars I could make out the second sighting was a croc so grabbed my camera but was too slow; the croc struck dragging its victim below the water before we could get close. No sooner had we reached the spot when up floated a fully grown Wild Boar completely lifeless, and just then a large croc surfaced close by but wouldn't reclaim its victim as by now it had floated too close to the side of us, so we slowly set off not wishing to disturb the croc any longer, thereby leaving him to regain his supper, such is life.
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