SNAP HAPPY FOR CROCS AND HIPPOS

Morning all … well … what an eventful night last night turned out to be haha . As it was Saturday night a few of us decided to go out and enjoy the night while half of us decided to take a well earned rest and chill with movies and an early night .
The few of us that did head out saw a whole new side to Bertie who now has to be one of the funniest guys we have ever met and made it such a fun night .. unfortunately none of you will ever know the shenanigans we got up to but it was a great night nonetheless .

Ahhhh Sunday morning and we are even treated with a lie in so our alarms don’t disturb our lazy slumber until about 8am . This morning Ben has said he will take us on a guided tour of St Lucia just to get us accustomed to the area and our surroundings so once everyone had their fill of breakfast and wifi we headed out around 9:30 .

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We began by walking up the main high street from bottom to top as there is only one main street in St Lucia with the back streets just being composed of B+B’s and homesteads . He introduces us to all the main shops , supermarkets , restaurants , local markets and watering holes . The long local market looked amazing with all of its fresh fruit lined up on stalls out the front and the souvenirs , paintings and bracelets tucked away in the back – we will definitely need to hit this up tomorrow afternoon when we have some free time .

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He then leads us down this pathway into like this mini jungle kind of area called the iGwalagwala Trail .. someone mentions it looks kind of similar to Cabin in the Woods if any of you have ever seen that film which started to put the shivers up us a little haha . It’s a nice little walk through the wooded area and we also spot some Red Duiker and find this perfect little looped branch for a group photo .

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Exiting the pathway we get down into this open area which has a strange plaque on the right hand side .. Ben gathered us round and explained to us that this area is called Honeymoon Bend and the reason for this was because back in 2000 a couple came her on their honeymoon and decided to go for an evening swim not realising that they would be swimming in the Estuary and not the ocean . Now .. in this Estuary there are Nile Crocodiles and Hippos , sadly she didn’t make it back as she was taken by a Croc hence the nickname honeymoon Bend .. how sad  .

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We continued to walk along the side of the Estuary seeing more Duiker , an Egyptian Goose and Vervet monkeys . Reaching the ski boat club we popped in to get some water and have a look out on the viewing deck . The Estuary at the moment is very low because of the serious drought we are having but this had made small islands and upon one of these island we spot 3 of the Crocs !!

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Next up we make our way along this little boardwalk which runs along the side of the Estuary towards the beach where the 2 used to meet up . Although it’s an overcast day it’s the first time we have had the chance to hit the ocean so we make our way barefoot across the beach for about 250-300m ( yes the beach was that wide ) down to the ocean which was chilly to say the least , so foot dipping was more than enough !

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Time was pushing on so we hit the road and looped back towards the lodge walking past Ndlovu Beach ( Elephant ) and Ingwe Beach ( Leopard ) .. just before Ingwe Beach Ben spotted an old Leopard track in the sand .. so at least we still have the chance of seeing a Leopard .. :/ fingers crossed .

Back at the lodge we had chowed down on some fish and large half potato sized chips which went down really well with the crew and definitely needed after the long walk this morning but we have our bearings now and won’t need Ben with us if we decide to take a walk around . We do however have to be careful during the evening and night as Hippos leave the Estuary and will walk into town … Ummmm What …!!! Lol .

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During early afternoon we had some time to chill and relax and definitely made the most of it taking advantage of a lazy Sunday . 3 o’clock came around and it was time to walk up to the Jetty where we would depart for our Boat Cruise on the Estuary .. sooo excited !!

Boarding the boat we take our seats and prepare for the next 2 hours keeping our eyes peeled as we still haven’t seen a Hippo yet ..! Sipho is our skipper and he begins by explain a little about the Estuary itself .. it’s 66km’s long ..it’s widest point is 21km’s wide !! and the narrowest point is just 100m across . Because it loops around and joins the ocean it makes St Lucia a Peninsula .

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Working our way up the Estuary we have our first sightings on the boat of Crocs which are just lined up along the bank trying to warm up .. did you know Crocs have no sweat glands which is why they open their mouths to try and cool themselves down ..also the temperature of the nest determines the sex of the eggs .. the cooler the nest 28-31 degrees they will be males and 31-34 degrees females .

Ben also set us a challenge of who can take the best picture of a Zembezi Shark as he has never seen them in the Estuary before and said that whoever wins he will pay for their horse ride through Isimangaliso Wetland Park later in the week .. woohoo .. challenge accepted !!

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This place is very diverse with hundreds of different plant and tree species not to mention the 400+ species of birds , 1200 Crocodiles and 800 Hippos and there are even Bull Sharks ( Zambezi ) trapped in the lake . Up ahead we spot a Grey Heron , Yellow Billed Stork and a Woolley Necked Stork . There are literally birds everywhere .. Igrets , Great Igrets , Swifts , Sun Weavers and even Flamingos !! Ben said he hasn’t seen the Flamingos here for about 18 months so it was a nice surprise .

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It’s such a beautiful place with amazing views and some great animal sightings and we couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than taking a relaxed Boat Cruise amongst these incredible surroundings .

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FINALLY … In the distance popping their heads up out of the water .. HIPPOS !!!! And yoh they are much larger than we originally thought .. apparently when born a Hippo can weigh between 50 and 80kg’s !! WHAT !! That’s more than most of us weigh now haha .Once we saw one it’s like they all came out of nowhere with pods of them left right and centre ..most them just sleeping in the muddy waters . They have these pink bits of skin around the ears and face and the reason for this is they secrete a kind of sun tan lotion as their heads will stay above the water when sleeping and they can hold their breath for almost 6 minutes while walking underwater as it’s a fact that they cannot swim .. really ??!! Instead they walk in pathways that have been carved into the bottom of the Estuary .

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We have a great laugh and a great time on the Boat but reaching the furthest point it was time to slowly make our way back to the dock getting to watch a beautiful sunset as we did so . It has been a wonderful first day here in St Lucia and we are definitely all amped to start work at the creche tomorrow and get to see the kiddies !! Ah … can’t wait !!

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So for now we shall bid you good night as we are off to bed to get another decent nights sleep before the chaos which is about to ensue tomorrow ..

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