Cold-blooded reptiles and the first game drive
By: Kaden Maasch, feature photo by Samuel Bramley
At the start of the second week of our course, I was given the duty of Camp Manager, and to be honest, it was a mix of nerves and false confidence. Everyone was more settled in and this took a lot of weight off my shoulders.
We launched straight into the second week with a visit to the reptile park for our Reptile orientation course. This was a chance for everyone to relax and enjoy the beauty of our cold-blooded friends. We were shown a myriad of creatures, ranging from tiny lizards to Nile crocodiles who could swallow you whole without a second thought. Due to the ongoing pandemic, we were lucky enough to have the entire park to ourselves, and our guide Chris was able to give us his undivided individual attention. One of the highlights for us, as a group, was the opportunity to see a trio of mambas feeding, as well as being able to learn how to handle some of Southern Africa’s most dangerous and venomous snakes.
While half of us were entertained at the reptile park, the other half was sent into town to get kitted up in their brand-new khaki uniforms. These smart looking uniforms, at first, did make us feel uncomfortable and out of place but as time wore on, we grew into them a bit more and started to develop a sense of belonging. This outing to town gave us the opportunity to explore, socialize and get to know our fellow students better, as well as being able to indulge in some rare bushveld cuisine such as a standard spur burger and a milkshake. After stocking up with snacks at Pick ‘N Pay that should have lasted us a month (they did not) we regrouped and made our way back to campus. A select few of us were lucky enough (debatably) to get a ride back with Ed on the open-top game vehicle.
The next big event started bright and early with basic vehicle maintenance as well as tyre changing (while avoiding the deadly uppercut of the high lift jack). We would be required to check the vehicles before any drive from now on and this was a brand-new essential skill for many of us. Many of us were very nervous for the upcoming driving tests because some had never driven a large, off-road vehicle before. Despite our nerves we all managed to pass the test even those that had to drive the tractor (Land Rover). Now that we had proved ourselves competent behind the wheel we commenced with regular drives around campus through the coming week. Along with the drives came the responsibility of giving pre-drive briefings to our ‘guests’.
The trainers got to show us how it was done with a very rewarding evening drive around the adjacent Makalali Reserve. Ending with a lovely ‘phuza’ (drinks) break, watching the sun dip below the horizon, painting the sky a beautiful array of colours.
So, despite all my nerves and all the other students’ nerves, my week as camp manager ended very peacefully with us settling into our new student lives.