February 13, 2012

CAMP DIARIES: SURPRISES IN THE BUSH – KARONGWE, 13 FEBRUARY 2012




At the beginning of January 2012 seven fearless Europeans came to EcoTraining’s wilderness camp in Karongwe to learn more about the South African bush. And in the end, after their 28 day safari guide course, they managed to say that they saw three of the Big Five in just one afternoon. What a way to end a fantastic adventure!

Marion and Rita, two of the students, share more about their time at Karongwe:

After more than three weeks of intensive studying and walks or drives to explore the bush twice a day (early morning and late afternoon) we were ready for our final exam.

Now we would find out, how much we really had learned in that short period of time. We could feel the tension in the air when the papers of test number three were handed out.  Three hundred questions about all topics needed to be answered within 2 ½ hours. What a challenge! And we all mastered it!

After lunch we jumped in our four wheel drive for our well-deserved afternoon excursion. When we turned on the radio we heard that there was a good chance to see a lion resting – and off we went.


In no time we reached the river and there the lion was, lying down in the shade. We were on the opposite bank of the river with no chance to cross. After a while we decided to move a little away from the river, stay in the area and come back later, when he would (hopefully) be more active.

We were still near the river surrounded by high grass, tall trees and thick bushes, enjoyed bugs, butterflies and birds and just listened to the voice of the bush. 


Then suddenly we heard an unexpected sound of cracking branches. We turned around and not far from us was a good size elephant bull.


The second time that day we got nervous, but this time it was pure excitement! Our hearts beat a little faster with each meter the elephant came closer to the vehicle. The only one that remained calm and had the whole situation under control was our instructor Dale.

Over the last weeks we had learned to respect and, what’s more, to admire Dale for his patience with us, his profound knowledge and his great spirit. And once again he proved that we can trust him 100%. He moved our vehicle away when the bull was getting just a little too close, but just far enough that it would not spoil our experience. And one by one the whole herd of 14 elephants including youngsters appeared. It was simply amazing to experience these big fellows in their natural habitat so close by.

We were grateful that the elephants allowed us to be part of their privacy for a little while. With the information given by Dale we understood them so much better and felt once again like part of the bush. But eventually we decided to move on, so that they can be amongst themselves again. Full with all that impressions and in high spirits we drove back to camp.

Suddenly Markus called out “Rhino, behind the sickle bush!”


Dale stopped at once. First we thought that it was a joke, but then the white rhino came around the bush and trotted along the road. What an impressive and unforgettable sight! We followed the rhino a little bit and just like with the elephants enjoyed Dale’s inside view.

Now all that was left to see of the Big Four of Karongwe was the leopard. And really, not that much later we heard a very loud unusual sound, something like ”grr, grr, grr”. We turned around, but this time it was not an animal… instead, the stomach of Koen, our Dutchmen. It was time for dinner!




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