It was a river inside of the forest, a swamp with a current, and our final obstacle before reaching camp. We took off our shoes and waded into the Zoran River. The water cooled our ankles, then knees, then hips as we quietly immersed and moved in a line, feeling our way tentatively in the opaque coppery water. The bed was smooth and sandy in places, padded elsewhere by mats of leaves. Unseen roots and logs were navigated via a friendly system of hand-signaling to the next person in line. Before the wade, Dave Morgan had recounted crossing a similar river in the Goualougo Triangle one day when something in the dark water suddenly bolted through his legs. When it surfaced, he caught a glimpse of a water chevrotain, a striped and spotted dog-sized deer, known to hide from predators in the water.
After 20 minutes, we walked out of the swamp, a little sorry it was over. We laced up our shoes and after a few more minutes were ducking under an elephant fence—wires festooned with empty sardine cans—that forms the perimeter around the Goualougo Triangle research camp.