A year in the African bush: Part 1

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The Designing Life team have started their one year Professional Field Guide Course presented by EcoTraining. Over the next 12 months they will be based at four camps located in the south-western and northern wilderness areas of the Kruger National Park, as well as the Thuli Block in Botswana. This is their first report after almost a month at Selati Game Reserve, a wildlife conservancy in the greater Kruger Park area.

Our last working day on 31 August 2012, after 12 years in the corporate world, was an emotional one. Lots of sad goodbyes to some awesome people we had met on our way. One of my colleagues, Gareth Tiedt, sent me a wonderful message, as well as a poem that touched my heart (see below). But it is only now that we have been living it, that the true meaning of his words became a reality.

“The journey lying before your feet is one filled with adventure, wonder and new beginnings. Your new office is open air, naturally cooled, lit and self sustaining. You’ll find coffee hanging from a tree branch above you, and a toothbrush in the bush before you.
You’ll meet some incredible people, witness scenes rarely seen by the majority of the world and learn things beyond your wildest imagination. Pun intended 🙂
This should all feel very natural to you (oops, another pun), because we here at Infinity and Flight Centre have been privileged to experience your amazing character and heart.”


When you’ve acquired a taste for dust,
The scent of our first rain,
You’re hooked for life on Africa
And you’ll not be right again
Till you can watch the setting moon
And hear the jackals bark
And know that they’re around you,
Waiting in the dark.

When you long to see the elephants.
Or to hear the coucal’s song,
When the moonrise sets your blood on fire,
You’ve been away too long
It’s time to cut the traces loose
And let your heart go free
Beyond that far horizon,
Where your spirit yearns to be.

Africa is waiting – come!
Since you’ve touched the open sky
And learned to love the rustling grass,
The wild fish-eagles cry.
You’ll always hunger for the bush,
For the lion’s rasping roar,
To camp at last beneath the stars
And to be at peace once more.

Our new life in our natural surroundings is one of pure bliss. Living so close to nature now, made us realise why we always seemed to be chasing and rushing about in the city in search of the next thrill, but never felt fulfilled. There is one fundamental, core aspect to life that many of us have forgotten. Today more people are becoming aware of a subconscious emptiness within themselves. As modern humans have become more isolated and further removed from nature, it has left an ever growing emptiness inside us all. Ultimately we are intricately linked to nature. A fact that none of us can change.

The more we isolate ourselves from the rhythm of the outdoors, the more we sacrifice a piece of ourselves. A part of ourselves we can only retrieve if we reunite ourselves with Mother Nature.
We have slowly started to feel and see some changes within ourselves. We are confident, always enthusiastic, always extremely happy, and fully content. Living with less, but feeling pricelessly wealthy.

Our Daily Routine from Mondays to Sundays, 7 days a week:

  • Wake up at 4:45 am
  • Coffee and rusks at 5:15 am
  • Morning drive or bush walk (alternating) at 5:45 am
  • Breakfast at 10:00 am
  • Lectures from 11:30 am till 13:00 pm (in open-air classrooms overlooking the Selati River)
  • Lunch at 14:30 pm
  • Afternoon drive/walk at 16:00 pm
  • Dinner at 20:00 pm.
  • Periods in between activities are taken up by studies.

So far we have had a jam-packed two and a half weeks. Cramming our brains with information about trees, mammals, animal behaviour, amphibians, birds, grasses, geology and astrology. As well as studying rifle handling and the ethics of guiding, driving Land Rovers, preparing practical assignments, writing exams, the list goes on.
Highlights are almost too many to mention:
Two black mamba encounters.
Spectacular rhino, lion, elephant and cheetah sightings.
A leopard in our camp one night.
A fellow student involved in an altercation with a Mozambican spitting cobra inside his tent.
Seeing nature in full force, when our dry riverbed transformed into a roaring, mighty river, forcing us to stand guard duty 3 nights in a row – on stand-by to evacuate if the river reached the flood level.

We had some major excitement in the camp last night.
Just after sunset, one of the students came around a corner of the camp and saw yellow eyes reflecting in his torchlight. Since the resident, tame nyala’s eyes usually reflect green, he immediately knew they were those of a cat. He backed off slowly, and as he got to the communal area, we heard a roar. There were three lions in the camp! They were busy moving back to the bush, so we radioed the vehicle that was already out on a game drive. They managed to spot the lions just outside the camp, one still had a souvenir in its mouth, our fellow student Christo’s shoe! This morning we found the missing shoe in some thickets near the river. (See attached picture of Christo with his relocated shoe). Never a dull moment!

We are enjoying every minute, with the certainty that we have made the right decision. What a privilege and honour!

Read more about the course: http://www.ecotraining.co.za/Courses/Field-Guide-1-Year-FGASA-I-II-Theory-Trails-Guide.html

1 thought on “A year in the African bush: Part 1

  1. Al woorde wat ek kan uitkry is wow! So mooi om te lees, so goed om te lees en te weet julle leef en geniet julle droom!

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