In the time that I have worked at Sabi Sabi Selati Camp I have been blessed to be teamed up with a very talented tracker, Zeblon Hlatswayo. Zeb and I have worked with each other for every drive we have done for almost a year and a half now. In that time we have become very good friends. The Ranger-Tracker relationship is a strong one built on trust, especially when tracking leopard and lion on foot it is good to know that the man next to you is one of the best and will stand with you no matter what you may encounter. So over this time it is not hard to believe that Zeb and I have become more like brothers than work colleagues.
I recently got married down in Cape Town this last April and was very excited when my Shangaan brother said he would love to make the long journey across South Africa to spend the special day with myself and my new wife, Lyndie.
Although Zeb has never ventured very far from his home of Huntington, a small village adjacent to the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, he managed to drive himself down to Johannesburg where a plane ticket my father purchased for him was waiting at the airport. This was Zeb’s first time on a plane and I can just imagine how filled with excitement and fear he was as he boarded the strange aircraft. Two hours later we met him on the other side in Cape Town and for the next hour Zeb explained how the trip went and how beautiful everything was, from the airplane to the airport and the people. It was great to watch as the day to day things we all take for granted could still bring happiness to somebody looking at it all for the first time.
Early the next morning Lyndie and I set off to show Zeb around this strange new land. First stop was Table Mountain. A bit nervous at first to climb onto the cable car for the journey to the top, Zeb relaxed a bit after watching the 50 people go up before him. When it was our turn it was amazing to watch his face as he got a birds eye view of the city and a look that only a child can get on Christmas Day when he saw the ocean for the very first time in his life. We explored the top of the mountain for the next hour and proceeded to make our trip back down for the next stop of the day.
We drove down to the iconic beach of Camps Bay, where Zeb managed to experience another life first, getting his feet wet in the cold Atlantic Ocean. Zeb was filled with questions about how the ocean worked and why when it rained too much did the water level not rise as it did in the rivers back home at Sabi Sabi. After answering all of his curiosities we set off for the final stop of the day.
The Aquarium was absolutely mind blowing for Zeb. The highlight was definitely his reaction when encountering the strange featherless penguins, never before had he seen such a strange looking bird. The sea turtle also took him by surprise compared to the terrapins we find in the bush.
At the end of Zebs trip it had been an amazing experience for this ranger-tracker team. I was able to bring him a new perspective of life outside of the bush in the big city and he definitely reminded me to be humble and appreciate things we take for granted.
We both are looking forward to our next big adventure.