Being a guide is possibly the most rewarding “job” one can do, I have always said that this is not a job but rather a lifestyle. We get to experience nature at its best and see exactly what the bush has to offer, from the smaller aspects such as the insects to the larger game such as elephants. There is no day that will repeat itself, no drive ever to be the same. This is the beauty of safari. Every day there is a new experience to be had, not only by our guests but also by ourselves as the guides and trackers.
Living in the bush is an adjustment to make and once settled in, it really does become your second home. From the early morning wake-ups and watching the sunrise and hearing the symphony of the birds chirping along with the lion’s roar, this is what brings the bush to life along with the light of day breaking to the final bird calls of the last light and watching the sunset behind the beautiful Drakensberg mountain range. This is what life is all about!
As the seasons are changing we are already noticing a significant change with regards to both the vegetation and the animals’ behaviour and movement. It has always interested me as to how the animals adapt to the various times of year, such as a large numbers of animals congregating along the river systems and watering holes in the winter months to the game becoming more dispersed as the rains arrive.
As the winter season comes to end now, the trees are starting to blossom and bloom creating an incredible canopy, below which lies a secret world of animals from the leopards to the termites, and this is where the exploration begins.
This last winter was an incredible one, we have been treated to some spectacular sights from the animals as well as the incredible views and sunsets. As the water sources dry up just before the big rains arrive, the pressure is on the increase for survival of all. The prey species are having to visit the smaller bodies of water that act as a death trap as there is almost certainly a predator waiting close by for that perfect hunting opportunity.
No animals can relax at this time of year, and this will prove the theory of the survival of the fittest. During this last winter season, we were pleased to have a few new members to add to our Singita family. The new additions of the Mhangene pride lion cubs as well as the Othawa pride lion cubs. Both prides are doing well and look to be getting stronger. During winter, it is ideal for the cats to have new cubs as hunting does become slightly easier due to the lack of water and the concentration of the game around smaller water sources.
This is what the bush is all about and what a way to experience nature at its finest. We are privileged to call Singita our home and I can truly say that this is a “place of miracles “.
I, as well as two other guides, got the opportunity to visit our Zimbabwean colleagues at Singita Pamushana. What an incredible place to visit and what a great experience it was seeing the different landscapes and terrain. The mountains that occupy the property are mind-blowing as well as the open grasslands. The area has got a lot of diversity with regards to terrain, thus allowing for multiple different species to roam the area. We went on two game drives a day for two weeks and never was one drive even close to being the same.
After guiding for several years, there is wish list that starts to grow on what you would like to see or experience whilst being in the wild on a daily basis. I am privileged to have the opportunity to work daily in the bush, whether its sharing my love and passion for the bushveld with guests or taking a leisurely walking trail on my own. In my capacity of being the resident photographer for Singita, it has afforded many opportunities. The safari wish list is endless, whether it is adding to a bird list, seeing an elephant up close or a nocturnal creature like a honey badger – there is a thrill of ticking sightings off the list.
I started my career at Singita in the Kruger National Park. I loved the area; it was wild, full of surprises and pure remote wilderness. When I started guiding in the area, general wildlife viewing was plentiful with a strong abundance of lion that dominated the area as the main predator. There were a few leopard sightings that were reported, particularly that we were able to identify; however they were slowly habituating to the vehicles as we explored the remoteness of the area. The leopards soon realized that we were not a threat and as the guides maintained a comfortable distance from the elusive predators, this enabled being able to recognise certain individuals or watch behavioural indicators that would warrant maintaining a distance or permitting a closer view.
There is a beauty, a drive and a spirit in the art of tracking. When you come across the foot prints of an animal and step down from the vehicle to investigate, there is a sense of aliveness and a feeling that brings you right back down to earth. It gives you an understanding, one that creeps into your body and your mind, you take hold of what feels like the spirit of the animal and you move in the steps it has taken in its past.