This marks the first in a series of posts from our intrepid traveler from the UK. Having experienced Africa almost a decade ago, Emily has proven that once Africa is in the blood, there’s no letting go!
She has embarked on a rewarding 1 year field guiding course with our partner, Eco-Training. African Quiver is able to put you in Emily’s shoes, simply contact us info (at) africanquiver . co . za
Without Further ado, here’s from Emily:
Over 9 years ago, on my first trip to Africa, I met Vikki of African Quiver when she was working as a field guide. We quickly struck up a friendship and, having fallen head over heels for Africa, she encouraged me to follow my own guiding dreams. Luckily I didn’t know then just how many years it would take for me to finally realise them! But, 9 years later, here I am sitting on the banks of the Mohlotse river in Botswana, having just completed my first month of training to be a bona-fide field guide.
Over the last 30 days I have crammed in more animal and plant facts than I thought possible. I’ve learnt about ecology, geology and astronomy and can now proudly say I no longer have to call for help if I get a flat tyre! This beautiful corner of the Earth called Mashatu has truly captured a little piece of my heart; with its uninhibited wilderness as far as the eye can see it is impossible not to love it. On our very first night we were welcomed by a stunning female leopard tucking into her most recent kill, an unfortunate impala. Apparently not satisfied with this, on the second day Mashatu delivered us a cheetah and her two tiny cubs, also feeding on a kill! For the next four weeks we delighted in a pride of 9 lions relaxing in the ebbing sunlight, yet more cheetah – this time with 3 sub-adult cubs – numerous incredible elephant encounters and, one of my personal highlights, a family of hyena and 3 cubs playing outside their den, cheekily sneaking right underneath our car!
But our sightings weren’t confined to the activities. Because our camp is unfenced and right by the river, the elephants love to drop by for a quick drink each evening and often hang around for a tasty munch on the trees outside our tents well into the night. Being woken up by an enormous elephant chomping, sucking and rumbling just a few metres from your bed is such a wonderful, intimate experience that I genuinely miss them the nights they decide not to come. The feeling of peace you experience when sharing just a small moment with these gentle giants is incomparable. I truly believe that immersing yourself in nature is a tonic for the soul and after an entire month without a single text message, email or Facebook notification, living in a simple bush camp amongst such incredible wildlife, my own soul is feeling totally rejuvenated.
Tonight we have our last sundowner at Mamagwa, a spiritual place steeped in history and housing the famous Rhode’s baobab on top of the hill – Cecil Rhodes famously carved his initials into the baobab on the night he camped here whilst trying to find a suitable route for his railway line across Africa. Almost a hundred years later, the initials are still clear to see, as well as the reason why he chose such a magnificent place to carve them. Tomorrow I’m leaving Botswana to begin the second phase of my professional field guide course in South Africa. With only a month until my formal exams, there’s little time to waste. This certainly isn’t a relaxing holiday but, so far at least, it’s proving to be one of the greatest experiences of my life.