Today we started a week of navigation and orientation. This sounds pretty dull, but it’s not.
Essentially it’s an introduction to trails guide with a lot of navigation.
The week under the instruction of Massi and Rhodes – www.shanganitrails.co.za – involves a lot of bush walking. Today we were up at 04.00 and out of camp within the hour.
Ahead of our trails guide course in the new year we are getting practice at handling a rifle whilst walking and leading the walk itself.
The rifle is not loaded, we’ve a lot of training, drills and tests before that happens. Instead one of the instructors walks second in line as a well armed guest.
I absolutely loved leading the walk and I’m desperate to do a lot of trails guiding as backup on my placement – fingers crossed.
Leading the walk is so different to being in line. You’ve got to concentrate hard, check for big five tracks and signs, watch where you put your feet, stay true to your direction and most importantly spot the game. Once you’re done, you’re totally shattered.
This isn’t as easy as it sounds when the sun is blazing down, you’ve a heavy pack, it’s thick bush and the weight of the rifle is burning your arm. Or at least those are my excuses for not spotting the giraffe seventy metres to my left.
Very happy to have my camel back with a three litre bladder for this afternoons walk, so hot and humid. Still it didn’t stop me thinking of a beer when I was in sight of the truck. Rhodes at this point – coincidentally – announced that most accidents with big five happen within 300m of the car because the guide and/or guests become complacent and start thinking of an ice cold beer.
The evening finished with a great sighting of a big five* female. Such an amazing sight with the African sky being lit up by a thunderstorm in the distance.
UPDATE – after what Rhodes said above, Ben has just got back and said that they all returned from their walk, climbed back in the truck and then realised there was a male lion just 20 metres away.