Anna Reid - African Bushveld Conservation in South Africa
The first two words that sum up my experience perfectly is; ‘Adventure Trail’. Literally, this was a 6.30am walk through the African bush with Jo, our guide, and this is where we were educated in the area surrounding our camp. However, in reality, this is the moment that I experienced my first true taste of life in this spectacular location, with the words, ‘Adventure Trail’, describing my upcoming weeks wonderfully.
After 3 flights with an accumulative 16 hours of travelling, I had finally arrived in South Africa, tired and anxious to discover what lie ahead. A Projects Abroad representative immediately made me feel comfortable and welcomed when he greeted me at the airport, ready to drive me to camp over the border in Botswana. Once in the car, time flew by, and it seemed I had just sat down before we had spotted our first Impala and Kudu in this new and enthralling country.
At the Conservation project
Camp was like home. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly, the facilities were great, the food was phenomenal and I couldn’t have asked for more! I felt safe and secure whilst constantly being entertained. The most memorable moment in camp was when a young bull elephant appeared behind the toilets, looking to play with a towel on the washing line.
We all tiptoed into the bathroom, peeking over the wall in inspired awe of this beautiful and intelligent animal, failing to regard how some poor camp mate had just lost their only towel!
After work activities
Each evening we would find out what our activities were for the following day. The day was split into two with a morning activity and an afternoon activity. It was always exciting discovering what activity you were assigned because they were all so diverse! One morning you could be tracking animals by identifying their prints and scat and in the afternoon you could be taking down fence from the old boundaries.
The next day you could be surveying the birds and mammals in a specific area of the reserve by learning how to identify their patterns/colours, beaks, and calls and in the afternoon you would be part of the anti-poaching team who removed snares from the reserve. Each activity was thoroughly rewarding whether that be through physical labour or by just learning about the surrounding species and environment.
Once a week we were rewarded with a day trip. Although these trips were all fantastic there was one in particular that stood out for me. We visited Matlhalanong, a nearby village where the ladies demonstrated to us how to weave with bamboo leaves.
They had set out their beautiful work such as bracelets and bowls for us to admire and purchase. We then drove to a nearby farm where we were taught how to make the traditional local food, made from ground maize called Sorghum. We were then shown how to milk the goats, and predictably we were all useless compared to the farmer!
My favourite moment had to be watching the sunset from a kopi one night. It was one of the campmate’s birthdays, and so the camp went off to climb the kopi and gazed in wonder at the breath-taking sunset over the reserve.
Would I ever go back? Yes, in a heartbeat!