There is something about the bush, the sound of the birds singing early in the morning, the branches breaking in the distance by elephants, the roar of the lion spreading through the mountains. Waking up in the cold winter morning staring ahead with your head peeping out the zip of your safari tent, overlooking the Mkuze River, having breakfast around a fire pit still warm from the night befores boma fire,feeling refreshed and ready for a full day of walking trails – This is how you start your day at Ebandla Camp.
Working with Colin Patrick and his amazing K9 sidekick (Anne) is one of the best experiences, just by observing them work together, side by side and with a different insight! Trailing an animal gives you the courage to improve your skills. As soon as you find a fresh track, the hunt is on, bundu bashing through the bushes looking for any sign of the animal you are tracking in the sand, in the trees along the river banks – to find an animal you need to think like one!
This is such an amazing experience because you can learn a lot about the animals behaviour, By asking things like ‘What type of food it eats? Was it on its way to a specific location? or maybe just wondering around? by looking at the tracks you can see if the animal is relaxed and walking slow or on edge walking fast.
It is hard work and requires a lot of concentration, but the thrill of tracking a wild animal never ceases to excite me!
As the days go by tracking different animals and learning more about ourselves in the process just adding on to knowledge displayed all around us with every step we take. I remember how nervous I was for the assessment day -It was a perfect sunny morning, everyone was standing around the boma and you could just see the stress of test day show on their faces, but the we started walking and I couldn’t help but to look at my surroundings and just seeing how beautiful nature really helped me to calm down.
We walked for a while before Colin stopped us and split us into two groups and briefed us on our task at hand – one group would walk for 15 minutes to get as far away as possible and hide away and the opposing group would have to track the hiders down! The assessment has begun. After 15 minutes one person was chosen to lead the track for the hiding group – As we tracked and trailed we finally found them and it was now our time to hide.
This process went on until everyone had a chance to track spreading this experience on for 2 days! Every moment as exciting and challenging as the next, when we were all done leading, Colin sat us down and the feedback process began.
After meeting with each of us, we were all happy to hear how well the assessments went.
I was sitting outside enjoying the beautiful view that Ebandla camp has to offer and it just got me thinking of how amazing this week was, how wonderful it is to learn something new everyday and how amazing and thrilling it is to track an animal and become one and more connected with this beautiful country.
I could do this for the rest of my life.
By: Karla Swart (Advanced Course Student)