Wilderness weekend 29th September – 1st October 2017

The weekend started in high spirits with everyone joking and laughing and some even imbibing of a few beers. After all, our last assignments had been handed in, and we shared some amusing stories of the rush to complete it, as there were no extensions granted by General Cazzavillan.

We arrived at the bush camp in a convoy: No tents, no toilets, no showers, and just a creaking pump for water, and a few stones for the braai.

Is this it?

We all checked out the bushes as we arrived, looking for any dangerous animals, arachnids, reptiles etc. After all the weekend was meant to be a fun filled learning experienced.

Insy winsy spider

As we all settled around the rose wood fire with its beautiful green and blue flames, Maria handed out our tests from the last weekend and the assessments of the communication week end. Judging by the overall smiles, things went well and everyone was relieved. Only two test left, and with a week’s study for each, it should be enough to get us past the 65% hurdle.

Are you sure you bought the wood at Harties!

One of the “special” tasks for this weekend is guard duty. Everyone is given a slot and told that when there are two people together, there is absolute no talking. Not sure which part of – let the women guard in pairs and the men on their own, did they miss.

Dinner first then guard duty

You are required to sit quietly by the fire, enjoy the night and reflect on anything that comes to mind. Which is certainly not something that we get a chance to do too often in our busy lives?

This opportunity was enhanced by the weather, as it was a beautiful night, with a bright moon and the temperature staying above 10 degrees.

Most of the students slept like a log, with a few even trying to saw it in half, (think it was the students J ).

Bright and early the next morning, after coffee, muesli and digging a hole in the ground for bathroom duties (bringing the toilet paper back in a bag….”gross”), we were ready for the day ahead.

The early morning is a favourite time for hiking, as it is cool and the dew on the grass helps to make less noise. But this is Bora so no dew on the grass and the sun was on the move.

The hike itself was very enjoyable and educational. Ed shared his knowledge liberally, and we were amazed at what he could read into the veld where we saw only grass, trees and a path.

Some of the highlights of the walk were – the spoor of aardvark, porcupine, wildebeest, steenbok, duiker, hyena, leopard, waterbuck, eland etc. but the biggest, without a doubt, was a day old calf which was thought to be an eland calf.

Can you see it?

At lunchtime some of the students took a drive with Ed to visit the site of a former farmhouse and some old graves, which was also very interesting, as Ed related the stories of its occupants and their history.

Some of the headstones. (Note The grave is actually behind the inscription)

The afternoon walk was shorter than the mornings hike (thank heavens, Jeremy can ask some rather difficult questions), but it gave everyone an opportunity to collect zebra and scrub hare dung, to help start the evening fires (no matches tonight), and to see a perfect example of how a steenbok covers it’s dung.

Some of the interesting things seen on our walks.

Back at camp the weather was starting to live up to its reputation, with the wind picking up and some threatening clouds appearing on the horizon.

Although the wind speed made conditions unsafe for a fire lighting competition, everyone was piling grass onto their little flames in order to get their fires going for the cook off.

After the cooking competition, still not sure who won it, our forefathers (is there such a word as Foremothers?) would have been impressed to see how many different ways you can prepare a gem squash. It was once again time for guard duty. Sitting by the fire while all the others slept in their tents. Yes tents. Did we mention that dark cloud? Well it came to visit us, and we got our rain and thunder just after dinner.

What a great weekend, this was the real thing, and is what we are all studying for. There is no better place to be than in the bush, with people that have similar thoughts and ideas.

This is Africa

Bushveld Mosaic a course for the curious, fun loving, serious, passionate or career-minded nature enthusiast!

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