I’ve got bruises on my arms and legs from bouncing in the land rover, thorns in my hands from digging out invasive cactus plants, and elephant spit down my back, and I’m having a blast!
We’re helping out at Buffelsdrift Game Lodge (Buffelsdrift means Buffalo Valley in Afrikaans), and we’ve been doing all kinds of things. We’ve been shoveling out elephant poop from their stable, and helping out with the feeding and elephant rides.
We’ve regularly been accompanying the guests on game drives, and I’ve seen more species of antelope than I even knew existed! Springbok, waterbuck, hartebeest, reebok, duiker, kudu, nyala, oryx, the eland whose horns shine in the sun like polished steel.
We’ve had the immense privilege and pleasure of seeing young giraffes, and young zebra walking through the bush, free and wild.
We’ve seen meerkat sentries come out in the early morning to see if it’s safe for the babies to leave the burrow and play in the sun.
We’ve seen puff adders, slow to warm up in the spring sunshine.
We’ve seen hippos in the dam right next to the lodge.
We’ve seen the majestic buffalo,
and the strange-looking black wildebeest (also known as white-tailed gnu), jokingly called “spare parts”, as their back end looks like a horse, and the front end like I don’t know what!
I’ve had hugs from elephants and kisses from ostriches. I’ve woken up to see elephants outside the window, nibbling on the tasty reeds, I’ve even enjoyed 6 am sunrises! (and if you know me, you’ll be surprised too!)
Buffelsdrift is a beautiful game lodge, with luxury tent accommodation for their guests, and comfortable rooms with private bathrooms in the staff house for volunteers like us. We get to see the inside poop on what it takes to run a game lodge, from kitchens and housekeeping, scrubbing the copper fireplace hood before an important inspection, to watching Joseph check on the elephants’ moods, and take them through their skills, before they interact with the guests. We’ve had the great pleasure of accompanying guests on their elephant rides, and videoing them, so they have a souvenir of their thrilling experience with the gentle giants, Bulelo, Jubari and Malaika.
We’ve been treated with great friendliness by everyone: managers, reception and restaurant staff, game guides and elephant keepers. It’s been such a pleasure to be here, and much more like a holiday than work. Although we keep asking what else we can do to help, we’re told to go see the elephants, or to join a game drive. So tomorrow we’ll probably go on another game drive 🙂 Come to South Africa, you’ll fall in love with it too!
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