I wish I could describe the wonderful landscape on the way from Hoedspruit to the Makalali reserve. Somewhere between the baby chicken peri peri lunch and jetlag, sleep deprivation won over. I woke up again just 2 minutes away from basecamp to the sight of 2 giraffes munching away at the leaves along the road. Not 5 minutes later a herd of zebra zoomed through, followed by a couple dozen rather cute impalas. It's like being sucked into the discovery channel. All that was missing was a waspy british narrator. Or may be Susan Sarandon.

The basecamp is quaint. There is a tiny child size pool, a hammock, the usual common kitchen, bathroom, and living room. At first glance it seems just homey enough for 2 weeks. Until I saw the spiders, wasps, ants, and other god knows what. There is no mesh on the windows. It really is just you and the world. And by "the world" I mean anything from good ol' mozzies to a python to a raging chimp could climb in. The little sissy in me was not a happy girl. She was planning an escape route.

This all changed after Patson our ranger came running by saying he had spotted a herd of lions. We hopped on the safari car (so awesome btw) and drove away into the bushes. The sun was setting - painting the sky crimson against the backdrop of Drakensberg mountain range. We followed them quite deep into the bushes and found 5 cubs and 2 female lions going about their business. They were really friggin close - no more than 10ft from the car. It was bizarre. People who were there before me claimed the sighting at this distance was indeed a rare one.

By now the air cooled down to a pleasant summer night. Marion, one of the volunteer, has been scoping out the moon. It should be full in about a week, she said. Perfect photo op.

I wish I could describe the way the air smells here. It makes your heart breathe life. You could see all the stars in the sky. I feel like I am truly far away, completely removed, vulnerable, small, and very much alive.

Tomorrow work begins at 5:30am clearing out alien plants and identifying a few plant species. By night we will head out to the shed for bush sleeping of some sort. I gather it is like camping. Then onto scoping of hyenas and writing reports about it. Fun.

Thaniya Keereepart1 Comment