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Waterhole Bliss

A photography update written home and from the field during my time spent photographing at a waterhole on the floor of the rift valley:

‘You remember how I was planning on getting an underwater housing and wetsuit to shoot wildlife drinking at eye level? Well, I decided that I could not wait! What I have been doing is sitting in the water for two hours at a time absolutely motionless and waiting for anything to come and drink in front of me! The water is warm but after two hours my vibration reduction technology is working overtime as I am pretty numb and cold.

But that is not the worst! A huge troop of baboons spend most of the day at the waterhole and being baboons, they do a substantial amount of their business in the water, so it does not smell all that pleasant and neither do I after soaking in it for two hours! Claire refuses to go anywhere near me until I have showered! There are also these mean little midges that feed at surface level and have been chomping on my arms. This has resulted in a very persistent and itchy rash.

The water-snails are also crawling onto my arms and seeking refuge under my watch-strap! The worst though are water-beetles who every now and again give me an excruciating pinch and I have to grin and bear it, sitting motionless so as not to scare off any potential subjects! So anyway, the other day I am sitting in the water when I hear a sneeze and some very deep breathing from behind me. After that, I hear this heavy lapping sound! I have never felt so vulnerable in my life and sat motionless for a few long minutes.

The sound was coming from other side of the waterhole and being obscured by a bush, I could not see what was going on? Eventually the lapping stopped and I packed up my things. On the way out of the waterhole, I then bumped into two lionesses (who incidentally killed a zebra later that evening!) By this time I had my rifle and the situation was contained. The problem with sitting in the waterhole is that I have to leave my rifle on land! The other problem is that I do not know how lion will react to a human in water? Lion normally drink after dark but I am hoping that one afternoon I get lucky or unlucky enough to photograph them drinking.’

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