The last two weeks of walking have taken everything out of us and have given just as much back!! You get what you give…
At the end of each week, we are all drained of energy and we don’t always get the chance to recover… We just came back yesterday from a week-end in Port Alfred and Kenton, where we participated in a Rhino Awareness campaign for the Chipembere Rhino Foundation at the Kenton Xtreme Festival… no rest but all worth it and lots of fun at a Tug Of War tournament!
- Team Chipembere with Tim in Bongi’s Quest Rhino suit
But as usual, the bush is worth the effort and we have had some amazing moments and sightings!
Our dominant elephant bull coming to drink in the river literally just below us, we were seated on a small ridge above the water – WOW! Two male warthogs fighting, blood flowing out of their wounds on the face (a very violent scene); young elephant bulls mud-splashing; a Water Monitor basking in the sun; teenage elephant bull mating with an older female elephant (!!! And the dominant male elephant chasing him away, but not showing any further sign of fury… which surprised us all quite a lot). A great sighting of the cheetah, who accepted our presence quite well and even fell asleep as we were having lunch 50m away from them (J ); an awesome sighting of the herd of elephants drinking from the canoes- great to have a view from the river for once!!
We also took a giraffe for a walk at Leeuwenbosch pan… we approached the male to about 20m, sat down… He got quite curious, positioned himself downwind to smell us, got closer and just relaxed. When we left, he actually stretched his legs as if to drink, but actually smelled our tracks on the grass (!!!) and then suddenly started following us, perfectly in our single file… He stopped when we stopped, continued when we started walking again… and finally left us, looking around a bush as we went further and further away… what an amazing experience!
At the end of last week, we spent 2 afternoons doing simulations of (mock) charges: we took turns in being animals or Lead Guides or Back-up Guides and practiced dealing with critical situations with charging animals (lions, buffalos, elephants…)! An amazing and extremely useful exercise… we realized at the beginning how unready we were. We made the most amazing progress though… getting our guests to safety well and learning what to do when it came down to the critical moments that our and the lives of our guests were in danger.
Last Tuesday, we spontaneously decided to do a survival course: we ate aloe for dinner (with some salad dressing we had left from lunch), slept on freezing Limestone almost in our fire, so we were roasting on one side and freezing on the other… Not a great night, but a great learning experience. The next morning, coming out of that valley, into the sunlight, with an amazing view of Amakhala with mist, beautiful light and a few Eland looking at us very curiously…… was simply awesome and put us back into a good mood for the day! With Karoo Boer Beans for lunch, we survived pretty well… thank heavens for Mike who a couple of hours later arrived with a feast to the rescue! J
Coming down to the basic level of life… surviving, made us appreciate the comfort we live in constantly and also the tough life the animals live in… in the rain, the cold, amongst predators… from the very moment they are born!
Overall, two amazing, tiring and rewarding weeks! The bush never lacks energy that we can pump from!
Helene joined us for the 10 week course in January and fell in love with Amakhala and Ulovane (as people do) so she decieded to stay longer! She has been an amazing student, has really shone out and has made us very proud of her achievements while with us at Ulovane. Helene will be leaving next week and we are very sad to see her go! Wishing you all the very best with your studies in the upcoming year and we look forward to seeing you next year!!
Candice and the Ulovane team x