The bush is a magical place that makes the soul sing with joy. For me the best time of the day is the early morning. The sound of the alarm going off is never a pleasant one but once you have switched it off, the sounds of birds chirping flows through the body like a jolt of happiness that acts as a spring board to get you out of bed. The taste of coffee (and the added caffeine) is the second push into the dawning of a new day and sitting on the deck at Bush Lodge looking out at the mist covered bush just leaves you awestruck.
After the caffeine has started to kick in and you have piled into the vehicle, excited for the surprises that lie around every corner, game drive begins. The cool air rushing past your face as your eyes float over the green grass and peer through the gaps in the trees hoping to find something special. What a way to start the day, the first animals to be spotted is a herd of impala slowly feeding through an open area, the morning sun peaking over the horizon lighting the dew on the grass. The bush is now ringing with song of the dawn chorus as the birds set up territories for the day and begin to flutter amongst the treetops.
Life could not be better…the radio starts to chirp as the rangers begin to find the hidden treasures of the bush and anticipation grows for you know you can’t understand what is being said. They speak in a strange tongue called Shangaan with a spattering of English in between, the harder you listen the less you understand but what you can understand is when the ranger asks, “May I have an approach?” Excitement builds as the ranger picks up pace. The more you ask the less he tells you but you know there is something good. Suddenly the ranger turns off the road and starts moving between the trees, before pointing out a pride of lions lying in an open area just soaking up the morning sun! The cameras click away as the ranger describes the amazing story behind this pride of lions, going into detail about their hunting technique and fills your head with amazing facts about these awesome predators.
After about a half an hour you head back through the bush until you find a road. As you move through the bush you are again greeted with more general game, spending a few minutes with each to learn more about their habits. The knowledge paired with sight of these beautiful creatures and seeing them in their natural habitat just leaves you dumbstruck and amazed at the perfection of nature.
The detail given by the ranger while you stop and look at the different trees, flowers and birds and find out about their survival mechanisms, medicinal and tradition uses again leave with a sense of humility as you begin to understand the complexity of life. Once again you move off through a maze of two track roads, lost in the abyss of Africa and as you round a corner, a herd of elephants stand like a roadblock. The elephants feed as a young calf pokes his head around his mother to get a better look at this strange green rumbling animal that has just pulled in. He runs in trying to scare off the animal but to no avail leaving you laughing and sighing at the cuteness and inquisitiveness of the 6 month old baby.
The ranger drives off and finds an open area. He and the tracker climb off the vehicle and invite you down to stretch your legs. Within minutes a coffee stand is set up and you enjoy a cuppa while looking out over the African bush. Once the legs have been stretched it is time to start moving again. The day has already started to warm up and on the way back you find two rhino just getting ready for a mud bath. You watch as they flop into the mud and roll around, covering their bodies from top to toe. What a sight!
The morning continues with many other things to see but the bellies begin to rumble and it is now time to head back to the lodge for a well deserved breakfast followed by a wonderful walk in the bush! WHAT A WAY TO START THE DAY!
by: Richard de Gouveia (Little Bush Camp ranger)