This is the sound…that happy, content and spoiled for sightings students (and trainers) make when they are indeed spoiled with some mind-blowing interactions and photo opportunities!
First week back from a well deserved 7 day break, without too many “casualties” recorded (life is tough on campus, so when the opportunity presents its-self, many, if not all students travel South Africa to enjoy all our beautiful country has to offer – Kruger park, Durban, Cape Town and the local “Metropolis” of Hoedspruit to let their hair down, with the inevitable raucous evening or two that follows, and the ensuing “call me” mobile number swopping that takes place, once again – Alex , sorry special mention has to be made !!!) – All pulled together to tidy up campus, sort out the volley ball court and get ready for the next semester! Thanks Guys!
However, I digress. First game drive, quiet, yet a much needed rude awakening since tree and bird identification were the order of the day, and given the difficulty in mastering this art, needed to be revisited. Spirits were low, as all were expecting some sightings, but to no avail! Fear not my flock, tomorrow we will see cats I said! And cats we saw folks! Tree climbing cats actually. Leopards!! – All chanted! No I said….. Cheetahs actually! Believe it or not, and a first for me as a guide for several years, a male cheetah nonchalantly climbing up into a Maroela tree not 5 metres away from the vehicle!
Un-be-lievable! This however paled by comparison, since the following game drive produced an interaction that I believe will remain as a fond memory for many years to come for Rosie ( special mention has to be made for this lady ) – affectionately from now on known by myself as the “Iron Lady” – for remaining cool, calm and collected in a rather tense situation! Yes, a 1 on 1 with a young bull elephant in full musht not a meter away from the tracker seat that young Rosie was occupying at the time. To set the record straight folks, it was not a deliberate approach in a potentially difficult situation, we were however surprised by this beast and there was not enough time to amend the situation. What the situation delivered though was a hands-on learning opportunity when it comes to “reading” animal behaviour and how to deal with that situation! Respect Rosie, and to all on the vehicle that enjoyed the privilege to share in this amazing interaction, you were an amazing audience!
Rounding off all these amazing events was a “braai” evening (to the uninformed back home – a barbecue evening!) under the stars, with some good cheer and a lot of leg-pulling, a frog identification evening with a few interactions with a python and a water monitor, and a hotly competed volley ball session, with a rather slow moving instructor that enjoyed the camaraderie of this amazing group of students!
This morning, a bush walk was on the cards, with a rewarding rhino sighting!
Good luck with your studies guys and girls! Next week we get to blow things away with our rifle competencies. Ho hum… Another boring day in Africa!!!
Trevor and The Bushwise Team
**Thanks to Christoph and Maika for the photos used in this blog.