Mouambi River

morning on the Mouambi River

My return to Moulondo began with a voyage up the Moambi River from Mayonomi with my new guide, Kassa.  We motored slowly through the mangrove and raffia-lined river to our destination.

A slender-snouted crocodile, Mecistops cataphractus, lies sleeping on a limb above the river.

Our plan was to access Moulondo, drop our supplies, then in the late afternoon head further upriver.  Our morning began in a soft, diffused light that would be typical of the dry season.  Mangabeys sat among the mangrove roots, appearing more curious than alarmed.  Crocodiles lie motionless in the warmth of morning light before plunging from perch to the safety of the river.  A hippo carcass, dead for perhaps a week, bobbed along the mangroves, front legs splayed toward the heavens.  The undulating rhythm of manatees rolled past the boat to deeper water with a fizz of bubbles popping in their wake.  Reflecting shafts of refracted light, a large water snake lies writhing and twisting beneath the river surface. It spirals weightless alongside the boat as if lost in some primitive ballet.  Later in the afternoon we would stop to watch hippos gather in a quiet pool along a turn in the river.  Rotating in slow circles beneath the surface with only alert ears and bubble-eyes breaking the surface, they would come to rest facing us before sinking in a sploosh, the calm waters obliterating all sign of their presence.

Mangroves and raffia palms lining the banks of the Mouambi River.

The river holds an amazing diversity of life.  Few signs of humanity are visible.  No doubt fishing and subsistence hunting has been happening here for centuries. It will be interesting to see how the proposed road improvements will affect access to this wilderness river.

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