We traveled to Hippo Haven in early October. The temperatures at this time of year can be very high and Karen does not like to expose out of shape volunteers to this type of weather, but because of my declining mobility she granted us a special gift. We had watched the videos and Hippo Haven looked as we had expected but the experience was so much more.
The smell of dust and dry grass, the baboons coming to check us out and the stark beauty of the Lowveld flooded our senses. We went to see the hippos that first afternoon and with Karen’s reassuring voice they let us approach them very closely. Our baby Kiboko was there of course and when called she came closer to show us that she was almost fully grown. At night with the darkness we would hear the hippos calling as they left the river to trek up the hills to graze and before dawn we would hear them as each returned to the river.
The last two days they were blended with trumpets as the elephants returned to Hippo Island to await the rains. The days were filled with animals, two male elephants snoozing at the road side refusing to be bothered by the truck, zebra, giraffe, impala, waterbuck, eland, kudu and on Karen’s birthday, 7th October a white rhino close to where we had a relaxing lunch, a picnic in the bush.
We very much admire Karen and Jean-Roger for the sacrifices they make to protect all the animals at Hippo Haven and we will always consider our time with them extraordinary.
Steve Gordon, Canada, November 2012
Marg Gordon thank you both for your hospitality, insights, wisdom’s and inspiration.