So after our weekend of rafting we headed back to Mbuluzi and were greeted with the task of anti-poaching patrols. Probably the most uncomfortable experience of our life. We did find one snare, which had wrapped itself around the leg of an unfortunate Wildebeest. We also carried on with the giraffe surveys and seemed to be getting the hang of it a little more. Matt then took us to the Mbulizi shooting range where Danya proved she was more man than the rest of us by beating us all with a rifle. Later that day she got to go impala hunting with Matt, though sadly the prospect of meat was not realised until the following day when Toby “the tweed man-child” managed to kill a female impala. That night we celebrated Rich King’s birthday with beer and animal. Lucky, the rangers, and some of the maintenance boys popped round for some food, beer and a little bit of spontaneous marriage. Colin+Danya=4evz. The rest of the week was spent repairing many flat tyres and polishing off the giraffe surveys.
That weekend we set off to celebrate Toby’s birthday at a rock lodge near to the Ngwempisi River. As he had finally hit double figures (at least in terms of maturity) Toby was very excited for these celebrations and bought as much budget rum as he could carry. Having been told to expect a 100m walk we arrived at the rock lodge after what can only be described as a lengthy sweaty trek near to sunset. The views from the rock lodge were fairly sweet to say the least and the open air shower and loo looked over the entire valley. That night we munched on some marinated impala steaks and had a few drinks to celebrate Toby hitting the age where training wheels were no longer necessary!
One birthday later and we were back into the bush, this time at Mlawula Game Reserve, which sits right next to Mbuluzi, but is about 5 times the size. We camped out again but with the added bonus of a roofed kitchen area, that was unfortunately swarming with fiery-eyed moths. BATMAN TO THE RESCUE: our resident bat was at hand to save us, munching up his foes on a nightly basis. Our park guide, Teddy, who looked more like an Indie rockstar than the education officer he was, showed us the way all week, and what a hectic week it was! Anti-poaching patrols along the railway tracks (tight-rope walking along the rails), alien plant control (thrashing some bushes with machetes), window repair (smashing old windows), trail mapping (looking at some native plants and animal tracks) and refurbishing the ecology office (well, practically rebuilding it from scratch). Any free time was spent perfecting our left handed catching skills with a tennis ball or reclining in our array of camp armchairs and sofa. Standard game reserve working days.
We headed to Simunye Country Club for the weekend where we indulged in the fine food on offer; buckets of fried stuff basically. Danya being obvious man of the group had 3 meals to her self; started with an enormous burger and all the trimmings followed by a pizza and for dessert a potato salad; Wow!
With food in our bellies we head off on the Sunday to Shewula Mountain Camp.