From a young age I have always felt a profound connection to this wilderness, this place I now call home. From the way the breeze meets my skin to the sweet sounds of the songbirds outside my window, I am connected.
This year for me has been like no other. A shift in my being, emotionally, mentally and physically. I have learnt so much from being cradled in Mother Nature’s hands.
Living in the wild
Experiencing the bush long before my career began, not seeming to grasp all of what nature had to share until it became my vocation.
Morning greets me at 5am. Waking to the first sounds of the birds in summer and in winter I wake to the last calls of the crickets. I fix myself a cup of coffee to get my day started.
The stage of the cycle determines the strength of the coffee. I take a quiet five minutes to reflect on how nature molds my world.
Being aware in the bush is a life lesson that will sit in the forefront of my mind every single day. We as guides are responsible for not only ourselves but the guests we invite into our world as well as every living organism that plays host to our environment.
Tying my laces outside my door, I beheld a line of ants stop in their paths to greet one another through tactile communication. Incredible, tiny beings so aware of all that surrounds them.
Making a conscious effort to be that aware, to feel, to greet. I have learnt to trust my instinct and somewhat feel changes and shift within myself and the natural world around me. This comes from being “in tune” with our environment and the impact that we have on it.
Changing seasons awaken my awareness.
Greeted by the vibrant palette of summer, guests and guides breath in the fresh morning air.
But I also watch as autumn takes hold of the land and the colours turn to deep reds and oranges, how water sources dry out and vegetation becomes unpalatable. I watch how animals travel far and wide to meet their nutritional needs.
I find myself paying particular attention to animal movements. Where they go, for how long and why. And it has only made me understand my environment that much more.
Moving away from the city was a very big change. Cities are full of bustling life and different faces pass you by every single day.
Here at Sabi Sabi, we are a community bonded by our passion and respect for Mother Nature. We live and work in close proximity to the same people every single day. A year in a close-knit environment has made me more compassionate, sympathetic… understanding. Empathy is vitally important when living in an environment such as this. We are a mixed bag of cultures, race and beliefs. I have learnt to embrace it all and I’m a better person for it.
Being a people’s person is imperative in this industry as we welcome thousands upon thousands through our lodge doors. We share our stories and they share theirs; we create memories, we dry tears. We laugh, bond and bid our farewells, all in a day’s work.
Nature taught me to be present. To be here in the moment because if you move too fast, you will miss something. Sitting in the presence of such magnificent creatures has softened my way of thinking.
It shows me how communication is imperative; co-operation is key and how bonds determine life. Being present in nature brought with it a lesson on patience.
Blessed am I to have been graced with patience in the wild.
Quiet days in the bush challenge guides.
Enhancing all the senses of the guests that accompany me, I embrace the birds, the vegetation and even the insects to build their knowledge. These same quiet days also give me the opportunity to prove to my guests that, “If you wait long enough… you will see something incredible.”
Oh, how these words have escaped my lips many a time.
Recently, patience paid off. Patience turned an ordinary day into a very rarely seen act of emotion.
We sat for an hour and a half and watched as the large grey forms of life emerged from the thickets. Their gentle communication settled our very souls and soon we became completely absorbed by their daily activities.
An eruption of rumbles and trumpets filled the air, commotion broke. Four large bulls came storming through the herd, the dominate one searching for his mate.
Advising my guests to be very quiet, we watched as the large dominate bull made his way to the female of his choice. The dust settled and magic happened.
They began to mate. Everything went deathly quiet for a few moments before bubbly conversations of excitement and congratulations between the elephants started again.
Nature taught me to be patient. Patience paid off.
The bush has allowed me to embrace life once more, to breathe deeply and enjoy life. To treat it gently, respectfully.
As if the blessing of my daily life wasn’t enough, on the 22nd of May 2019, I was treated to such a phenomenal sighting to mark a year at Sabi Sabi.
I have been fortunate to watch a number of our predator species feeding on their hard-earned kills. But today, today I watched my first kill go down from start to finish!
The air crisp and the sun slowly heating the surface of the land we search high and low for the Southern Pride.
The lions were found moving through thickets, rubbing against one another as they reaffirm their bonds. Exciting!
We made our way through a riverbed and decided that waiting for them on the other side might be worth our while as there was a watering hole.
Well this young female had other plans in mind. We noticed as her focus shifted, a Wildebeest emerged from the bush behind us. We watched it drink water… We also watched as her belly lowered to the ground and her stalk began.
Guests beaming with excitement we held our ground. With all elements in her favour, she used our vehicle as cover for a brief moment as the Wildebeest moved in the opposite direction through the open area towards the thickets.
She was gone! We spotted her hightailing it behind the large male, we took off behind her and strategically manoeuvred through the open area.
We heard the impact as though we were front row of a rugby match! It was powerful. We had just witnessed nature in its rawest form. Not too far behind, the rest of the pride followed and they all put an end to the Wildebeest.
Witnessing life in this manner has been wild, raw and beautiful. There have been many incredible encounters in the last year, but these two stood out to me in recent times. I’m sure that in the years ahead that I spend in the bush, I will learn a lot more from Mother Nature. I will be embraced further into her world.
“Every creature was designed to serve a purpose. Learn from animals for they are there to teach you the way of life. There is a wealth of knowledge that is openly accessible in nature. Our ancestors knew this and embraced the natural cures found in the bosoms of the earth. Their classroom was nature. They studied the lessons to be learned from animals.”
“Much of human behaviour can be explained by watching the wild beasts around us. They are constantly teaching us things about ourselves and the way of the universe, but most people are too blind to watch and listen.” ― Suzy Kassem