Walking in general is good for your health so you find that most people love it, but they don’t take it to the lengths I do. The most exhilarating part for me when I am walking is that all of my senses function at their extreme, and this is when I completely connect with nature.
Many people think that if they encounter big game on foot they’ll get injured or even killed, but these wild animals out here know instinctively that there is an animal called the human being who is the most dangerous to them, and has been so for thousands of years. So, to be safe out here all you need to do is completely respect each other, and in doing so you can enjoy the wilderness and wildlife without any problem.
The best time to walk is in the morning when it is still cool, and all the big game are very calm and not stressed from the heat. We take walks throughout the whole year, but because of the thick bushes during the rainy season we select more specific open areas. Walking in the morning is just like someone reading a newspaper – most of the tracks from last night are still visible in the early morning light, and insects are still cold and motionless, so you can get to identify them easily. At the moment, after an evening of rain, we’ve been seeing the fantastic bright red velvet mites.
For my tracker and me walking is part of our diet – with or without guests. Our favourite moments are taking in all those sweet fragrances – they are just amazing, and once you know them you need to experience them regularly in your life. What I have noticed is that walking improves your sense of smell so much that even if a lion or leopard is nearby you can detect its scent before you get too close to the animal.
I got the courage of walking in the morning from my mother – she always says that walking in the dew in the morning is healthy as it makes your body get strong and grow young. What a secret of life she’s shared with me – and maybe it’s why I am taking time to age!
We were on an early morning drive on the Bhanyini plains and were watching the two cheetah brothers scouring the area. There were lots of wildebeest with their young calves about and nearby was a bachelor herd of zebra. As the cheetahs took up positions to hunt a calf one of the zebra stallion kept blocking their view.
It was during our morning drive that we came across fresh tracks of the wild dogs in the Nhoro area, on the northern side of the reserve. The tracks told us they were moving in a southerly direction, and with the sun already heating during this time of the day we knew that it would not be long before they would take a rest in an area that has some water and shade. The tracks kept on heading south and we thought that with plenty of water at Sosiji Dam this could be the area they were heading. But, to our surprise, there was no sign of them there.
The temperature was very high, above 40 degrees Celsius, and so I decided that afternoon to sit and wait quietly in the shade with my guests at Lojaan Dam. Lojaan is one of my favourite places on the property. The scenery is amazing, and this area with its hills, drainage lines and thick bush is the right habitat for buffaloes and black rhino.
Sitting in Hwata blind (our sunken photographic hide) is an incredible way to wait for animals to come and drink, especially when the heat beats down on the earth and scorches the last bit of moisture out of almost everything. At this time of the year one can sit in the blind and always have something to watch, from the endless amount of doves that just seem to keep coming to drink, to the almost resident impalas around the open areas of the pan. It’s always great to see this action, but of course the action that we all hope for is the arrival of the bigger pachyderms.