Week two at Toro campus kicked off with a two-day wilderness first aid course. Role-playing with several snake bites, broken limbs, and resuscitations, we all passed with full marks. A good thing too as it didn’t take long before we had to put some of our new skills to work. Ank, unfortunately, got a nasty bee sting while she was busy demonstrating what happens when you try to burn magic guarri leaves, unlucky. We were nothing if not innovative, so help was at hand in the shape of an ice-cold five-litre bottle of water.
Continuing on we started with our tree ID’ing and had our first lecture which was on botany. Talk about an information overload. Our first test on trees and grasses is Monday morning so we are all very busy today getting stuck into our workbook studying, reciting scientific names, learning the different structures and arrangements of leaves and finding out traditional beliefs about different trees in the area. We all now know not to cut down a baobab tree, or else we will be consumed by lions.
Speaking of lions, and being consumed by them we had our first close encounter this week. During Thursday’s afternoon drive, where we all got a chance to test out our driving skills, we stopped in a stunning open area for some soft drinks and snacks. The eight of us, plus our trainers Jack and Lindi, were busy enjoying our cream sodas when a little Black-backed Jackal showed up next to the car, showing its natural curiosity. We all then proceeded to get stuck into a photoshoot, some of us even lying on the ground to get that perfect eye-level shot. Maybe we were all too preoccupied with the Jackal or our drinks and snacks to notice, but the next thing we see is eight lions coming out of the bush right next to us. I have never seen ten people jump into a cruiser that quickly before. But what a sighting. Everything was perfect, the golden lighting, the Drakensburg mountain range as a backdrop and these eight majestic creatures right in front of us.
If those lions were the only thing we had seen this week I don’t think anyone would have complained, but we are really being spoiled here at Toro campus. We also saw our first elephants which walked right in front of the car, our first puff adder, and our first (and Alex’s first-ever) leopard. Safe to say there are no complaints from any of us here with our first two weeks being filled with drives, drives and more drives. Who knows what we will get to experience next.
Blog by Sophie Pyper