In the Beginning: I was in the United States of America when I decided to come back to the sunny shores of beautiful South Africa, to for fill my childhood dream of becoming a Game Ranger. The decision was quick as I suddenly became aware of an overwhelming desire to live my dream. As a passionate South African, I had always loved the bush as a tourist, but had never pursued the profession as a career. Bush, by the way, is a term used to describe a protected area where wild animals roam free.
On my 30th birthday I arrived at a famous lodge in KZN, to begin my Game Ranger training. I was so excited and thrilled with my decision to join 11 others on course and we soon molded into a tight bonded unit. There is something about the bush that bonds your souls and these friendships made with likeminded people, literally last forever.
Some of the youngsters even called me Sir, due to my age, as they thought that I was the Trainer, which I found hilarious! So, there we all stood, waiting for our very experienced and highly qualified Trainer/ Guide combo, in our brand-new khaki attire, which consisted of a pair of shorts, a shirt and a new pair of blister boots! We were practically Game rangers, but little did we know that, what we were about to embark on, was not for the faint of heart and the experience was to be life humbling for all of us. There and then we realized that we knew, let’s just say, in the whole scheme of things, absolutely nothing!
Our two seasoned and well-respected Guide Trainers (Trainers) approached our group with authority and asked us all to address everyone with our name and a little bit of information about ourselves. One by one, we got to know a little about each other and realized just how different we all were, but actually all very similar too, because of our common thread – our deep love for the bush.
Our Trainers, then introduced themselves and then proceeded to present a long list of achievements and accolades, that they seemingly were very proud of and at the time, it was clear that they were the Kings and us the foot soldiers! They gave us a brief introduction to the course and what was expected from each of us and then ordered us to jump on two land rovers and wait for them to drive us to a secret location. We waited about half an hour (our first lesson in patience) and then off we were driven for about 45 minutes, deep into the bush and came to stop at large donga system (old dry riverbed or eroded drainage system).
It was here that we were to set up camp and overnight. The excitement ran thick in our veins as we all began clearing a space, collecting firewood and making ourselves as comfortable as one could, without chairs and for our sleep that night, without a mattress and pillow. We certainly were about to experience an incredible memory, with some of the team, visibly appearing a tad nervous and apprehensive. I was fortunate to have been camping in my life and was therefore not too perturbed with what we had to do – In fact, I was fully excited to be in the bush, with no fences and wild animals roaming freely, all over the place.
Before nightfall we got as prepared as we could and made sure that we had allocated a safe area for our fire that was to aid us for warmth, but more importantly to be a form of security against potentially wild and dangerous animals. Thoughts rushed through my head, as to all the potential scenarios that could play out with all the animals, lurking in the night shadows! Fire was the heart of the camp and one of the elements that would become one of the most important in our game ranging days that lay ahead.
Thank you for visiting my Blog! Be sure to check out next week’s post: Nightfall of Day 1. Your positive comments and feedback would be greatly appreciated!