I wake up to someone chewing in my ear.
It is pitch black. No one is beside me.
They chew again.
I lay there with my eyes closed for another second, listening to the jaws gnaw, over and over. No birds are singing. It is late, and not so early.
It is the sound of the buffalo, that I always think are outside my tent, or the hippos, but their calls — even the low pitches, a talk instead of a roar — can be heard for up to 5KM away, the sound carried across the open plain.
I can hear them chewing.
It takes a second, but it’s coming from directly behind me. I dangle my legs over the bed’s edge and listen in the dark. They sound close. They sound like they are just behind my tent.
I ponder this a moment, a bit more timid than I thought I’d be if one of our largest safari animals were beside me, a canvas tent between us, remembering how Big John said if there are injuries or accidents (usually to local people), they are from hippos and buffalo. They charge, and trample.
I switch on the solar lamp. Can buffalo see through canvas and my light? They could just walk into the canvas, push the entire walls down and come in.
I get up. I walk to the bathroom in the dark and find the silhouette of the shower stall, and creep past to the window. I lift the canvas cover and peer out. It’s nearly dawn, enough to see.
There is a huge adult buffalo laying down outside my tent, not 6 feet away from me. It is chewing. Chewing!
I make out at least three more, laying like a lion in a semi-circle, hanging out. I stare a moment then wonder what they do if they see a little white head suddenly staring at them through a green box.
I don’t push my luck. I close the window cover and stare at it, at the buffalo I know is on the other side.
I mutter a few obscenities of surprise to myself and inside say, “There’s a buffalo outside!”
I’m disappointed in myself that I’m a bit nervous they will get up and lumber into the tent, and then go lay down, listening to one of them chew, seemingly directly behind my head.
After our morning drive, I see their hoof prints in the mud. One is about 10 feet from the side. I walk to the back. I take a photo where one was laying and standing – directly behind my head, about 5 feet from the headboard.
My footprint against the buffalo's, NEXT TO MY TENT
There is a print that looks just like all the others, on the INSIDE of the roof tarp ropes, but surely it is not because they are massive and he’d push the thing right over. But man does it look like a buffalo print.
Until this moment I thought it was overexxageration to have a Masai walk with us at all times to our tents in the dark. We see zebras about 500m away, and mongoose and I’ve heard hippos, lions and other things at night. We did spot a lion not 1 mile from the camp.
I didn't expect them to really be IN the camp. Behind my bed!
This is exactly where the buffalos were laying down, eating. I took it from their imprint