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Beneath a starlit blanket


To walk in Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve is to embrace the true spirit of wild Africa. I had set off earlier that day with a guide and a tracker, forsaking the luxuries of Sand Rivers Selous lodge for the simpler pleasures of a night in the bush. It was towards evening when we set up camp in the middle of a sand river stippled with animal footprints. My tent consisted of nothing more than a groundsheet propped up on four beanpoles; but the bed was comfortable and I lay awake for a while, serenaded by the sounds of the Selous, as the stars seethed overhead with unbelievable brilliance. There were nightjars and hyenas and the monotonous call of a scops owl. Then, somewhere not far off, a lion began to roar, followed by a profound silence, as if the whole world was listening. Yet even as my pulse rose, I found it oddly satisfying to know that all that separated me from the big cats was a flimsy sheet of gauze.

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