Bordered by open savanna, Colas swamp lies several kilometers inland from the sea, halfway between Gamba and Mayonami. Crocodiles, hippos, elephants and sititungas find refuge within the swamp and lagoon environment. The air is heavy and still this evening, soaking in humidity. A few ibises circle overhead, dropping a shower of raucous cry-baby screams that cut through the constant trill of crickets. A pair of coucals settle into the pandanus to roost, their haunting lament wafting lazily through the swamp like two pipe organs in different key.
This is my second visit to the edge of this swamp. A few weeks earlier while entering this mesmerizing landscape, I experienced an eerily silent vacuum in the atmosphere. It was too late when I realized I had stepped into an enormous migration of ants. Hundreds upon hundreds of ants covered every square meter of forest floor, all scuttling in the same general direction. Within seconds I was engulfed in ants. Searching desperately for relief, I danced through the forest litter but could find no sanctuary and ultimately had to run like a maniac back out of the swamp to the open savanna, stripping off clothes as I went, picking and brushing off hundreds of ants along for the ride.
Tonight, I remain ant-free, and linger until the light fades to twilight. A steaming-orange full moon battles through agitated clouds on the eastern horizon, throwing forest shadows at my feet as I return to savanna. Recovering my bicycle, I am surprised by a civet that ambles languidly across the road before me, its black silhouette resembling a small hyaena in profile and gait. It pokes here and there among the roadside scrub, and is soon swallowed into the darkness of swamp.