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    Imagine this…

    Sit back, take a deep breath and imagine yourself sitting in the bush at night, under the African night sky, the glow of the moon and stars lighting up your surroundings. The call of the Spotted Hyena in the background. The feel of a light summer breeze touching your skin. the smell and sound of the camp fire. Now close your eyes and picture it. There is a feeling of awe that fills every person who experiences the African bush. This feeling you cannot describe to others, the only way for people to feel that is to experience it. I am sure that at the start of this week all Bushwise students experienced that indescribable feeling, as we had our first sleep out.

    Photo by Ben Coley

    Sleeping under the African stars, smelling that pure fresh air! I’m sure many will have a good night sleep, so we thought. But in reality, the excitement that built in us of what we were about to experience kept most of us awake until the early hours of the morning.

    The reality

    We didn’t have any tents and there was no fence to keep the animals away from our camp, so we took shifts to keep a look out for any wondering potentially dangerous animals. I mean most people would be kind of concerned, but not us! Many stayed awake and joined others on their shifts to spot the amazing creatures surrounding us. From the early hours of the night we saw and heard a few Spotted Hyenas wondering around our camp, curious to see what we were and what was going on. They kept on circling our camp, sometimes getting a little too close! There was always excitement in the air when a person on watch called out Spotted Hyena! and everyone jumped up to look at this amazing animal.

    Surprise!

    For us the best part came at the early hours of the morning. It was half an hour into our 3am shift, slowly scanning the bush in front of us with our spotlight. We scanned right and the beam of one spot light overlapped with another spot light, as that happened we spotted something moving slowly through the bush! We looked again and suddenly we realized it was a Lioness! Most of us screamed ‘Lion!’ ‘Lion!’ and in a matter of seconds anyone who was still awake came straight to see this beast of a cat. What an amazing sighting and an unforgettable experience!

    Blog by Faisal Al Rifai