An evening walk in Lamandau Wildlife Reserve

“Hey Jak” I called over my shoulder “Are you following me or the path?”. “Following you” Jak replied.

Not good.

I wasn’t leading; I was merely walking in front. For the last 100 odd metres I’d become increasingly convinced we’d left the path and were following a pig’s trail through the forest. It was 5pm. It would be dark in an hour. We were both soaked to the skin and had been walking in ankle deep water for the last twenty minutes, as a result of the afternoon downpour. And a 100 metres may not sound much but given I wasn’t sure of the exact distance our chances of back-tracking weren’t promising.

I remembered there was a tree with unusually large leaves where the proper trail re-entered the forest after crossing the open bit where we were now standing. Jak’s face was a picture when I said “look for a tree with big leaves”. In a forest, right… good idea.

Example of forest

(Example of the forest terrain, without the water!)

Still, I had my revenge. Jak got out his GPS which told us accurately where we were on the earth’s surface and it even told us it was only 2.9km to the guard post. Did it, however, tell us where the path was? The path that would enable us to get through the forest and to the post before nightfall? The path that I had been unable to follow in daylight let alone pitch blackness?

I wanted to turn east along the forest edge, Jak opted for north-west. As I had got us into this mess I decided not to argue and to follow him. Of course, he was right. Consequently, I was secretly delighted when he failed to notice the tree with big leaves and I could call out “here it is” as we crossed the right track.

That was Tuesday evening. We were in the field until Friday…last week was a long one!