The 30 of us on the bus boarded a covered boat and cruised along the waterway for two hours, taking many photos of hippos, birds, and crocodiles. It was a cool afternoon, not 100+ like the last cruise just 10 days ago, so we were very lucky. We never saw a hippo out of the water, but we certainly saw all sizes of them - from babies to big guys. As our guide we had at Tala had told us, this guide confirmed that more people are killed by hippos than any other African wild animal. They don't eat you, they just chomp you with their huge teeth and/or trample you. The guide said they saw a crocodile attack a baby hippo just last week, and the momma hippo dispatched the crocodile in two quick bites, saving her little one. The look very lazy floating in the water, but can be amazingly fast. They leave the water at night, and can be seen walking the streets of towns and villages. The cruise was very nice, and in addition to the hippos and crocs, we were amazed by the birds, especially a huge red/black/white stork that we watched for a long time and a giant heron that we watched catch a fish and proceed to eat it. The waterway also featured many fish eagles, which had white heads like a bald eagle. We got close to a pair in adjacent trees and it was fun to hear them calling back and forth about us. They served beverages on the boat ride, and the two hours flew by.
We left St. Lucia at about 5:15 and arrived back at the ship at 6:30. Along the way we passed hundreds of acres of eucalyptus trees, which they grow in this area like we do pine trees back home - very close together. The eucalyptus look much different when grown like this because the leaves are all at the top, and with their white trunks, the forests are quite pretty. They can be harvested for wood chips/pulpwood in about 8-13 years. The Richards Bay area is also the world's largest exporter of coal, and one of the largest exporters of aluminum and granite.