location is actually greater makalali private game reserve, so this is the closest i can get...basically you get the idea...
Week 3 - 22/ 07/11 Friday - 28/07/11 Thursday
Friday was a bit hectic, we got woken up by Margaux making us get up and revise for our test on Saturday, so we had to pull ourselves out of bed and get the day started. It was not as much studying like the course last time, but it was still hard trying to learn it all. Us girls sat by the pool revising in the sun most of the day, but then we all had a break in the afternoon and played a game of volleyball. The evening was spent trying to learn all the bloody definitions for module 1and the reptile stuff, but I think it paid off because the test went quite well on Saturday morning. I finished it in about 45 minutes even though we had 2 ½ hours to sit the exam and then we got to go and do our 4x4 driving test to see how good we were at it.
The driving was alright, though never having driven the 4x4 before and being immediately tested on clutch control etc was not exactly comforting. I did ok though I got 4/5 on general control of the vehicle, 4/5 on clutch control and 3/5 on reversing. To be honest though I was so slow -reversing in a straight line that the fake elephant and rhino charging the car would totally have flattened myself and the make believe guests, so I think I got off pretty lightly on that! Anyway Katy and I were on duties this weekend, and we had gotten up early to do the cars before the test, but we could hear the lions close to the camp so decided to wait to do them until just before. Turns out it was a good idea because after the drive practice I was driving back to the house and saw loads of lion tracks walking straight past the front gate! They had literally been strolling past the house at 5.30am when we woke up!
On Saturday evening we had another Brai, and because it was after our first test everyone had a little bit too much to drink! I got so drunk that I started eating the meat from the Brai, I had some steak and a weird ass sausage, but yes it appears I have finally fallen off the veggie wagon. Which is fine by me because I basically prepared myself to not be a veggie before I even left England. Anyway most the lads were just high fiving me but then Spencer, the other veggie was just shaking his head in disgust, while the instructors basically just laughed at me going 'look im eating meat!!!'
The evening didn't stop there, we were in the kitchen and someone from outside told us to come out as there was a snake skin in the tree, we couldn't reach so I tried to piggy back Candace, but still no idea why, but we couldn't get it down. It then turned into about half an hour of piggybacking everyone around the house, until Evan wouldn't accept a piggyback and resorted to teaching us girls to ballroom dance instead. It was hilarious if not epic amounts of fun! The evening finished with an argument over who was being put in the cupboard (me or Anthony, but I won as the least inebriated person usually has better balance!) and then I phoned mum a little bit drunk. However Malcolm, Anthony, Ben and I stayed up pretty late agin till about 4am, so by the time I went to bed I was completely fine…Sounds like a usual Friday night at uni to be honest!
The next day was also pretty similar to the usual day after drinking at uni, we didn't get up till like 9am, which for us is the latest that we have got up so far here. Candace and I spent most the day by the pool, but then went upstairs to start our new work out regime, to get our core and arms really strong for when we start to learn how to shoot with the high caliber rifles. Katy and I then washed the cars and took them out for a bit of a spin to turn on the water pump and get a wee bit more driving practice in. I spoke to mum and dad on Sunday evening just before an early night, and was wondering around the garden while chatting to them, constantly interrupting because I could hear the porcupine in the bush or could see eyes in the bushes beyond the fence…I don't think it instilled a lot of confidence after the last thing they said before I left was 'please don't get eaten by a lion!'. I tried to explain on the phone how amazing it is to be here. There is definitely something about man originating in Africa, and coming here tells the soul that this place is where you belong. I love it!
On Monday we were back in the class bright and early to do our bird theory and practical. We spent the morning in the classroom and then in the afternoon went on a brief bushwalk just outside the camp to start identifying the birds. I managed to get a few of them, but my bird ID'ing is still really rather naff. Fingers crossed it will get better with time! We also watched some of the 'Life of Birds' series which was really interesting, and then in the evening we were visited by two ex students who were staying at our camp for a couple days until their placements start down at one of the lodges in the reserve. They were really nice, and told us all what they would get up to on the other campus. Even though they apparently have a lot more space there and can go walking when they like (because it is not on the reserve and no dangerous game), they preferred that we were in the reserve and had the lions and elephants right on our doorstep…literally.
Tuesday was game drive day, I was allowed to drive on the stint back from the drink stop, we didn't see anything overly exciting but it was really fun to be allowed to drive! It didn't go to well though when I was on the crest of a hill and couldn't see the bumps ahead as Evan was sitting on the front as a tracker and I wasn't sitting on any cushions, so it was a little bit bumpy! But I got us back without killing anyone, so big thumbs up there!
On Wednesday we did our Orientation and Survival lectures, then went out in the afternoon to give the stick and shadow method and the watch method a bit of a go. I can totally tell where North is now! I have been upside down until now! a few of us also went for a run today, i had a lovely jog and did 110 crunches as well! Candace and I have been doing well with our daily exercises, we are going to be so strong when it comes to the rifle shooting! We also got our results for the test back today! I got 91%! boom! All the revision did pay off! So we all celbrated our results with having a drink!
In the evening we had a Brai again, Ben and I got a bit excited about the corn on the cob, ooooh and I ate chicken! I am totally not veggie now! But oh my god the chicken was so tasty that I didn't even care! I got a bit of stick for it, but I just told them either to mock me for being a veggie or not being a veggie, they can't have it both ways! Katy and I were palying the clock dart game, and I was quiter terrible at it, and then Ben, Evan and Malcolm joined us and I was even worse because instead of finishing second I finished fifth. Damn it. There was a few of us who stayed up late again, Ben, Malcolm, Sheldon, Riaan and I were up till about 11pm by the fire chatting away. They came to the conclusion that I am very cool for a girl and included some weird Afrikaans word which translates into 'a girl who lusts life' which was pretty awesome.
Today we went on a game drive this morning which was pretty epic! We had to take Dan down to Makalali gate in the morning so drove all the way down to the very southern part of the huge reserve. We stopped at loads of birds on the way, and saw a juvenile and mature Dark Chanting Goshawk which was awesome. Then on the way back to the camp we passed by a ranger in his pick up and he said there was an Elephant down on Makalali airstrip. So we headed over there and found the little bull ell that was busy chomping through an acacia tree. He literally took no notice of us at all! It was great, and Stefan who was having a go driving, did amazingly well! We then made our way back to the camp and just before we got to the dam, Margaux saw a dark shape in the distance, I thought it was a wildebeest until it turned its head and everyone went aaaah Lion!!!! So we raced off after the lion, got Sheldon to scramble off the tracker seat into the back of the Bakkie and went looking for him. We saw him walking in the bush, but then he disappeared and so we moved forward to try and find him. Instead of the male, three lionesses ran straight past us in the bush towards some Kudu! It was amazing!!! We got round to the east road of that block and there was a Kudu barking really loudly at the lioness which had not managed to catch him. We turned back and the lioness was sitting there on the top of a hill with the three cubs. It was literally phenomenal to watch! We are so lucky with having the farmhouse right in the middle of the Lions' territory!
The afternoon walk was cool too! Even though we didn't see anything that exciting, I really enjoyed learning about all the spoor (tracks) and reading the signs left by the animals. It's like you see a tree with mud about half a meter up it and instead of going oh it's a muddy tree you can interpret it by saying ok because its below 1.5m it isn't an elephant or rhino, it's a warthog giving itself a butt scratch! Or ok you see a pile of dung which is bright white and instantly you can tell it is a carnivore that has eaten bones and turned its dung white, and then you can look for tortoise prints around it because tortoises eat hyena droppings to get the calcium from the bones for their shells. But because there are no prints around it you determine that it is lion dung instead (also the size and shape are a little different). Anyways you see what I mean. tracking is definitely the most interesting part! Hopefully we are getting a tracker in to do an extra qualification with us, which would be awesome!
Anyways that was my week. So yeah pretty fun! I will probably put up a blog every Friday to tell you what we have been doing over the week. But pictures are proving a ball ache to get up so as soon as we get some better internet or I go into town then I will put up some photos. So yeh, will catch up soon!