A few years ago, we stayed the night at Ongava Tented Camp, which borders the fabulous Etosha National Park in Namibia. When we checked in, we were shown around our room, and special care was taken to point out the foghorn. We were told that as there was no cell/mobile phone reception, neither was there a telephone in the room, and the camp was unfenced, the foghorn was our only way of communicating with the outside world after we were walked back to our tent at night, should there be any problems.
After dinner that evening, whilst relaxing with my drink around the open fire, I wondered out loud about how often the foghorn actually has been used. Our ranger then held court for the next 15 minutes, while he told this story of a guest who had stayed recently in the camp.
The guest in question was a middle-aged American lady, travelling on her own. She was spending just one night at Ongava, as she was doing a whirlwind tour of Namibia, so taking in all the sights in about 7 days, flying from destination to destination. To say she was not an experienced safari-goer would probably have been a gross overstatement.
Anyway, after a very successful evening game drive, and a lovely dinner at the lodge, the lady was walked back to her tent by her ranger, who bid her goodnight. The camp was full that night, and gradually all the other guests also retired to their rooms. The ranger, his job done for the night, also disappeared, looking forward to a well-deserved nights sleep.
At around midnight, however, the entire camp was woken by the sound of a foghorn going off. BWAAAAAAH BWAAAAAAH BWAAAAAAH it went, shattering the peace of the bush.
Leaping to his feet, the ranger grabbed his gun, and set off in hot pursuit towards where the noise was coming from, wondering what on earth he was going to find outside (or heaven forbid even inside) the tent. Had a lion managed to open the tent zipper, and was now curled up on a guest’s bed? Had a curious elephant accidently stumbled and fallen on top of the tent, and landed on the foghorn, setting it off?
The noise was coming from Tent 8, the tent that was the home to the American lady. The ranger slowed down, and took a look around with his torch. No new paw prints, no eyes reflecting in the beam, in fact, nothing looked out of place. The only thing out of place was the sound of the foghorn, which was still being blasted out into the night.
The ranger hammered on the tent opening, and the zipper came up. The lady stood facing him, dressed in pyjamas and a dressing gown, and holding the foghorn.
‘What’s wrong’, demanded the ranger in sheer panic, trying to look round her into the tent to see what on earth could be happening.
‘Ah gee,’ said the lady, ‘Sooo pleased to see you. I’ve got a real craving for some ice-cream, can I have a bowl please? If you have any chocolate, that would be great, otherwise just vanilla would be fine…’
Needless to say, the lady did NOT get any ice-cream brought on a silver tray to her tent…