After a busy first week of introductions to each other and to plan the next 6 months of our time at Bushwise, we were straight into game drives in our second week. The introductory drive for my group was taken by Trevor around The Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve and we were all so excited to get out and see the landscape and wildlife that will soon be our second home.
When we heard that elephants had been sighted near our location so we went out on the search for these gentle giants. One thing that hadn’t been considered, however, was Trevor’s old eyes, LOL. Thus, it took us quite a while to eventually find them. Luckily, we had a good set of young eyes in our group in the form of Gina, who spotted an elephant trundling behind a tree as we had stopped to have a very welcomed coffee/rusk break. That first drive was brilliant, with Trevor’s great wisdom which comes with his experience, I couldn’t wait to start learning about everything we had seen and so much more.
The next few days we were all given the opportunity to drive the game viewers. Some a little nervous but very exciting none the less. My first drive was thrilling; however, it was my second drive on the Thursday evening which I will remember for a very long time. It started off gently, after Stefan had given us a very smooth ride in the first half of our drive. Gerhard, being our trainer for that day, was pointing out trees to us, as we had been studying botany all week, but our attention quickly and easily waned away from plants… no offence trees, when we turned a corner to be greeted by a journey of giraffes blocking our road. As we quietly sat there watching them as they munched on the trees just in front of us. Granted we had seen lots of giraffe in the days preceding this one, but I couldn’t help but think how much happier I was waiting on the road for these beauties to pass through for ten minutes, than waiting at welsh traffic lights for 20 minutes (trust me they are that slow).
Not long after the giraffe, we were soon welcomed by our next break from trees, as I heard a cry of ‘stop!’ from the back of the game viewer. It was from Claire who had been spotting things all day with her eagle eyes. She has “spotted” a spotted hyena cub (excuse the pun) suckling from its mother just 20 metres away from us. The mother was carrying an injury to her front right paw so was taking a rest, which meant she lay there whilst we watched for about ten minutes and the cub tried to get every last bit of milk it could. Even though it was sad to see her injured at that point, it was absolutely incredible to see those two so close to us for such a long period of time. We are all hoping that her injury will get better fast and that we see them again in a few weeks when she is in full health. After the hyena, we had a bumpy bit of road to get through, in which Gerhard was sure I would break the game viewer, but we got back safe to campus.
The experience of not just this game drive, but every single moment so far has been so exciting and different, at times a bit cold and I am itching with anticipation for this to be my life for the next year, and hopefully even longer!
Blog by Antony Peel