“Thuma Mina” – Send Me
This blog was written by Braedon Saunders, Bushwise Professional Field Guide student. Each week, Bushwise students take turns as camp manager to experience what it’s like to run a lodge or a team. Writing a blog is part of that process.
A piece of my journey
My name is Braedon Saunders, and this is a piece of my journey. The story of a KwaZulu-Natal born boy who made his way to Kruger National Park as a young man with a dream – to live a life that matters, to be the change he wants to see, and most importantly to do it through his passion for the bush. I never wanted a desk job, the thought of doing the same thing every day scared the life out of me. In the bush every day is a new adventure, a different experience and a more beautiful sunset, what more could I wish for.
The week began as every week does on a Monday morning, except this Monday morning was a game drive in the Lowveld. We set off eager and ready to discover our passions in a whole new way, the way we always dreamed. So, it began with a beautiful sighting of lions – 4 females, an old male and one young male. The stuff out of a fairy tale. These golden coloured hunters brought smiles and a sense of amazement to all present, and to think it was only the start.
Being camp manager is a privilege
Managing the camp for my fellow students sounded like a challenge, but little did I know what a privilege it would be. I was fortunate enough to manage the camp during our first game drive week. This meant that I had to wake up at around 4-4:30 every morning to ensure that the hot boxes were prepared, and the kitchen remained tidy and locked. Leading friends can be challenging as you form a bond with people who you then have to lead, however you quickly find a balance between leadership and management. I like to think I was more of a camp leader than a camp manager.
Soon enough it was my turn to drive – my first time driving a Toyota Land Cruiser and my first time in the Kruger National Park. It was truly an experience I will never forget. The smells of the plants and animals, the sounds of bird and animal calls, and the sun beating down on your face as you prepare yourself for the adventure of a lifetime.
On our game drives that week we got to see beautiful cheetahs, lions and elephants. Three animals many people have never had the privilege of seeing, and we saw all three in three drives. There truly is nowhere like Africa.
Surrounded by wildlife
At the end of the day, you realise what a true privilege and honour it is to be surrounded by such beautiful wild animals – it is an experience like no other. From early morning drives to late night fence walks, I have been privileged to lead the camp for a week. Fulfilling the responsibilities expected of me was initially a challenge, but today I look back on it as a privilege.
Thursday morning I had the chance to experience my first big five sighting as the driver on a game drive – we spotted two elephant bulls. Looking at these gentle giants is a humbling and thrilling moment. The dry mud on their backs showing a massive difference between the silvery grey skin and this dark brown tinge was a sight to behold in the sunlight.
This is my story, one of nature, adventure, love and passion. The only question I have is will you be next? We all have a dream and a passion; the hardest step is always the first. Take that first step into your dreams.
Thuma mina – send me.
Thuma mina means “send me” in isiZulu, one of the national languages in South Africa. It is also the name of a popular and inspirational song here. Perhaps that is why Braedon chose it for the title of his blog – as it has served as some inspiration for him while he starts his field guide journey.