Phew…That wasn’t a night to remember, at least not if you’re looking for a long good night’s sleep. It became quite evident to me that my sleeping bag (the model is called Never winter) is too hot for this heat. I couldn’t sleep in it at all. The humidity just kept me turning and tossing and when I finally managed to fall asleep, I was woken an hour later with rain running through the windows, as we’d forgotten to close the flaps! So we had to, or actually I had to get up, get dressed and get out there in the pouring rain and darkness to close them.
Ellies and lions close
It doesn’t feel too comfortable to do this as I’d heard lions close by during the night with the mix of noisy elephants just across the river. It makes you realize that you’re indeed in the middle of nature and you have to adjust to it. There’s just no way you can conquer it or even change it.
I just hope that we can get a little bit of cooler weather during the nights to be able to get some proper sleep. I need the sleep!
First full day
Today has been the first full day with EcoTraining and we were divided up into two groups, where my group started off with an early morning walking safari with our guide Mark. After lunch we went for a safari drive with Craig, with a lecture session of two hours in-between, listening to guiding in natural environments and finding your directions, food and water in the bush if you’re lost.
It’s quite fascinating for me at least, as a city-boy to actually be taught these things that I’ve only really read about or seen in movies. There’s so much to be taught here. Sooo very much!
The walk we did in the morning gave us the opportunity to track yesterday’s lion herd to see if we could find them, learning to interpret tracks and directions, while also concluding what animal it is. We didn’t spot the lions, so instead we had a session on trees and how we can identify them by looking at the leaves and its structure.
It is very hard core stuff and I must admit that it is hard to take it all in. It is all so new to me yet very meaningful facts. Those who choose to do the full certification will indeed have to know all of this by hand in 26 days time.
Scorpions and snakes
A bit of rock interpretation and stumbling upon a huge rock scorpion which gave us an extreme close up presentation by the guide finished of the walk before it was time for brunch followed by the lecture session.
Just before we went out for the drive, it became quite evident to me that there is a bit of wildlife around us, as I noticed the shape of a snake on the outside of the tent. A quite long, yet thin Grass snake decided to have a nice baking rest in the afternoon sun. I guess there’s more where that one came from.
In the tracker seat
I was told to take the tracker seat at the front of the car for the drive. Me? I know little about this, and they decided to put me up there to spot the animals, or as I see it, be the bait!
It worked out quite well as I spotted a whole group of giraffes, some zebras, a jackal, a huge owl and a lesser bush baby. Not bad for a rookie! The bush baby really impressed me with a giant leap across the road, from one treetop to another. We’re talking about a five meter leap for a small creature measuring say 20-30 cm!
Highlight of the day
The highlight of the day was however which followed as we were heading back to camp.The darkness came fast and I was still in the front, having no torch to look around with. The one headlight from the car doesn’t offer much guidance in looking for life in the bushes along the sides, which instead the fellow participants could further back with their own torches.
We came upon a sharp turn, when somebody had seen something in the bushes on my side of the car. When the car had come to a stop I could clearly hear some commission in the bushes but I could see nothing, especially since the driver told everyone to be quiet and cut the light.
The breath of an elephant
It was obvious that it was something large in there and I could hear some heavy breathing that did sound a bit annoyed by our presence.
The movement became clearer and clearer as it moved closer towards us and especially me where I was seated. In pitch-black darkness all I could do was sit still, wait and hope for the best. All of a sudden when the breathing which I’d figured out came from an elephant, became louder and came closer, the car kick started and shot off into the humid night.
Yep…It was an elephant. A big male doing his dinner alone in the bush. We’re definitely in the bush…It’s only a fact to accept that out here we’re not the ones to run all the rules…
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