Getting up this morning was a struggle, but I still managed to be washed, changed and out within ten mins. I was however very conscious that this course is going to be the toughest yet, not necessarily because of the content but because of the conditions. The humidity and temperature both day and night are going to take their toll.
Today proved just that, in the morning we walked four and a half hours with the temperature reaching 34 degrees by the time we finished. It was hard going and I went through my three litres of water which meant I must have sweated at least that.
We took a break at a beautiful spring but the scene was marred with the skull of a white rhino. It and another had been killed in August by poachers and their horn hacked off with a panga (you could see the cuts in the bone). These had been the last two rhino in the concession.
Our walk was dominated by buffalo, we tracked a small herd for about three hours with no luck so we reverted to our planned route. Returning to the vehicle we bumped a loan buffalo bull which was wallowing in a small pan (pond). Both the buffalo and us were spooked, he exploded out of the water and crashed through the bushes in the opposite direction. Unsighted at this point our lead and back up opened their bolt as they thought it was coming at us. They reacted incredibly quickly to the initial surprise and also when they realised it was no threat. Their whole thought process was seconds, if that.
This was our first encounter and we have to log it as part our training. As well as an exam, practical assessments, accumulating hours spent walking in the bush we have to have a certain number of encounters with potentially dangerous animals to qualify as a Back Up trails guide. Ideally not all our encounters will be like this, our intention is to view the animal without it ever knowing we were there. Our second encounter came ten minutes later when a herd of buffalo were moving ahead of us. We chose not to follow them as we didn’t want to spook them further.
After our lecture Cliff and I did Bruce’s workout of the day. I thought it couldn’t get any worse than yesterday, I was wrong. Bruce gave us a 120kg log to tip end from end around the 400m fire break. Whilst one of us tipped it, the other ran a lap and then we swapped. It was hell but we finished it in about 35 mins. Then the biggest challenge, to try and stop sweating before lunch.
In the afternoon we walked to a huge baobab tree where Dee picked us up in the Land Cruiser so we could have a sundowner. The landscape here was stunning, the baobab was simply huge and the lala palms and fever tree forest completed to exotic setting.