Hitting the ground running
Some images in this article were taken pre-COVID-19.
BY: Suvania Govender
Camp manager blogs are written by our current students who each get a chance to lead and manage a group (of their fellow students) for a period of one week.
In just two short weeks, the lives of 16 enthusiastic nature lovers have been irreversibly changed. We arrived at the Bushwise Mahlahla campus, the place we would call home for the next six months, on a hot Friday afternoon, eager to see what awaits us and to meet the people with whom we would share this extraordinary journey.
In the Bushwise Field Guide course, I fully expected to meet like-minded people who I could get on with. What I did not expect, however, was just how easily and naturally the bond between us would form.
As the first few days passed and the magic of the bushveld engulfed us, we very quickly became our own little family of sorts. Together, we were ready to take on whatever was in store for us… and there was a lot in store.
I could say we began to settle into a routine, but as I have quickly learned, you can never truly have a set routine when living in the bush! Anything can (and will) change in a moment’s notice. In short, life in the bush means constantly expecting the unexpected.
Side note, this is also the reason why you will see every true bush person with their signature Leatherman at hand, prepared for anything and everything.
This “expect the unexpected” lifestyle wasted no time in teaching us the ways of the bush. From excellent sightings of mammals, birds, reptiles, and other animals, we’ve been going nonstop since our arrival. We’ve learned about trees, grasses, game viewer maintenance, camp duties, and much more. It has already been the experience of a lifetime, that none of us are likely to forget any time soon.
A story that I will never forget, and that I will be telling around bonfires for the rest of my life, took place on the third day of student game drives. We were wrapping up an afternoon drive and heading back towards camp for supper. Mealtimes were undoubtedly everyone’s favourite time of day, thanks to camp Masterchef Iris, so we were very eager to get back in time.
We decided to take a river crossing that would be the shortest way home, but the river had other plans for us. As can happen on river crossings, one of our tires became stuck in the soft sand, just on the edge of the riverbank. Even with the nine of us on the game viewer pushing as hard as we could, we still could not budge the vehicle, so it was time to call for backup.
There we stood on the banks of the river, muddy and with adrenaline coursing through us, telling stories while waiting for backup to arrive. While it might have seemed scary, we knew everything would be fine, and completely trusted our trainers and fellow students to help us out. I can honestly say that that moment is one that will be with me forever.
We finally saw the approach of rescuers in the other game vehicle. Together, with 16 students and two trainers, we had enough manpower to get the vehicle moving out of its stuck position. With one great push we were out of the river and on the other side.
Wet and hungry, but in the highest of spirits, we drove back to camp with the first of many jaw-dropping bonfire stories in our back pockets.
This story is just one of the best things that has happened in the first weeks of training. It has been an exciting start to the journey to becoming FGASA certified through Bushwise Field Guides. With momentum like this, it is impossible to guess the kinds of stories I will have at the end of this course.
Every morning at Bushwise I wake up grateful for this amazing, one in a million opportunity I have been given. Every night I go to sleep in awe of the absolute glory of the bush and all that comes with it, including the incredible people I get to share it with. These two weeks have been some of the most incredible days of my life, I truly cannot wait to see what the rest of this journey has in store for me!
Do you want to have incredible life-changing experiences like Suvania? Apply today and join one of our future Bushwise Professional Field Guide courses and start making memories.