Imagine spending every minute of your day in nature.
Imagine having lunch with a herd of elephants.
Imagine sleeping out in the open, looking at thousands of stars, and listening to the bush. THIS is how I started 2021!
In the two weeks, I have been at Ulovane I have experienced and learned so much already. I don’t even know where to start.
In the first week, we got the amazing opportunity to be part of the darting of buffalos which were moved to another part of Amakhala Reserve. This was a very exciting experience. Usually, when a buffalo is darted, it walks around for about five minutes before it lies down and then is caught and eventually transported. With the first darted buffalo, it turned out to be a lot more difficult. We couldn’t find her for about an hour. We knew what area she was in, but she hid in the thicket where we couldn’t see her. Many people were involved and we’re looking for signs and tracks. Eventually, we found her, and it was a truly special feeling to be so close to a buffalo! She was safely moved to the other part of the Reserve where she is happily grazing now.
Later on, that week, I did my first game drive sitting behind the wheel. What an amazing sighting we had! It was a beautiful late afternoon when we arrived at a pan where a dazzle of zebras were drinking water. All of a sudden a couple of rhinos appeared from different directions and gathered. We spent quite some time with them and observed all kinds of different behaviour. Females not allowing males to join them to drink water. Two males fighting. Females running away from the approaching big male. The baby slowly approaching the big male. Mum trying to chase away the big male from the water. The baby drinking from the mum. All that while the sun was about to set. It was an INCREDIBLE moment!!!
Then we continued driving to our sleep-out place for the night. We were sitting around the fire all evening, talking and getting to know each other better. There is something about a campfire that always leads to interesting discussions about life. We took turns throughout the night to sit in pairs and do the night shifts. Sitting around the fire in those few hours listening to all kinds of sounds of the bush is very special. Hearing lions roar. Are they close? Branches cracking. What animal is coming now? It definitely is an exciting experience.
In the second week, we learned a lot about the geological background of the area which was quite interesting. Especially when standing in the Ulovane camp and enjoying the beautiful view onto Amakhala Reserve, I realised how great it is that I’m here and able to see this beautiful landscape now that was created a very long time ago.
One day when we were out on Amakhala, it was extremely hot and we were desperately looking for some shade for our lunch break. Unfortunately, we were not very lucky in finding shade, so we eventually stopped in the middle of the road and ate in the shade of the cruiser. All of a sudden we had an unexpected visit by the elephant herd strolling across the plains. It was just amazing looking at all these beautiful elephants together as they were making their way to the other side. We couldn’t have found a better place for our break and we were definitely at the right place at the right time.
Later on in the week, I did my second game drive behind the wheel. And how lucky am I?! We were blessed with another amazing sighting! We were on a night drive looking for the lions and found them quite fast. We saw one lion lying on the ground far away, so we turned off the lights to see if they were going to be more active. And a lot of ACTION we got! We were looking at the stars when we heard some noises not too far away. We turned on the light, and a lion and a lioness were walking towards us only about 20 meters away. They came closer and closer and stopped only about 2 meters next to the cruiser. The lioness stared at us and I could only guess what was going on in her mind. Schalk then stood up and raised his voice, making sure she didn’t get too comfortable with us. She eventually walked away and the lion followed her as he had other things in mind… For a second I couldn’t believe this just happened and I could almost hear my heartbeat. It was definitely another UNBELIEVABLY EXCITING moment in the bush!!
Sometimes it almost seems like a dream what I’ve experienced already in only two weeks. But it is all actually absolutely real and I can not wait for many more amazing moments to come.
I feel truly blessed and appreciate it a lot to be here during this time. Although the world seems to have stopped at the moment, nature hasn’t and neither have our lives. Stop imagining looking at thousands of stars and having lunch with elephants, and make your dreams come true!
“The surest way to make your dreams come true is to live them.”―