Wednesday, 26 June 2013

On Top of the world


One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things
Since a young boy I have always been interested and fascinated by nature, but didn’t always fully understand it.  This became even clearer once I travelled and learned from Guides in the industry.
Traveling to Africa is both intriguing and humbling, created by the beautiful balance between the wildlife, the landscapes and cultures. Not only will you marvel at the density and variety of wildlife and landscapes, but you will meet fascinating people who will capture your heart.

Emerging yourself in what can only be described as true wilderness can be a scary yet a very rewarding experience. Sleeping in small pop-up tents in unfenced big game areas has some drawbacks, but the rewards more than make up for some discomfort as I found out when I visited the Mashatu camp in Botswana.

The Camp is located in the “land of Giants” in the Tuli reserve of Botswana, bordering South Africa. Very aptly named as we found ourselves surrounded by breeding herds of Elephant making their way through the camp at night to reach one of the remaining waterholes in the area a short distance from the camp.
Tuli forms a key part of the proposed Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty with majestic rocks, diverse vegetation, abundant wildlife, a profusion of birds and a rich archaeological heritage and spans over 25 000 hectares.
The Northern Tuli Game Reserve, on the confluence of the Limpopo and the Shashe rivers, in the eastern-most corner of Botswana, is the collective name for several privately owned game reserves including the Mashatu, Ntani and Tuli Game Reserves, covering all the land north of the Limpopo River.

It is in this diverse rugged area that we experienced a glimpse into the training that Field Guides receive to guide guests once qualified. It is a sampling of activities that provide you with more insight into your natural surroundings. The ethos of the small, but dedicated team becomes all too clear once you start to be amazed by the intricacies and beauty of the area.  Your hosts are part of a likeminded hard working team that want to instill an appreciation of nature  and make a difference towards conserving this planet by educating people and exposing them to wonderful and sometimes life altering experiences in the wild.

During the 7 to 14 day quest learning experience, they incorporate certain aspects of the Safari Guide course. It is primarily aimed at those who are looking for a more in-depth bush experience, but who do not necessarily have enough time to break away from work obligations or, for people who just want to know more about their natural surroundings. A live to learn experience.

It starts with the basics of how to use binoculars properly and how to position a vehicle for photography. You will also learn about the behaviour and identification of many of the insects, spiders, scorpions, birds and other small creatures in our ecosystems as well as learning about the underlying elements that support this amazing variety of life such as the geology, soils, plants and climate. While you study how the smaller organisms interact with one another and their environment, we have the opportunity to show you the identification and behaviour of the larger wild animals that roam our wilderness areas.
Learn about basic bush survival skills and how to navigate and orientate yourself in the bush. You will even be shown how to drive a 4x4 vehicle. You also get to experience how to approach dangerous game on foot and how you should handle these situations.




For the more adventurous among you that have always wanted to know more while on Safari contact me on ctschalkwyk@gmail.com or corne@marasa.net for more information.

Let the bush take you… It’s worth it!