Home > Pangaea South Africa > Shamwari Experience: Bush Walk

‘Get out of the vehicle. We have a little surprise for you guys. We are going to walk toward the cheetahs and hopefully get within 20 metres from them.’ This sentence from the ranger grabbed our attention immediately. In groups of 10 people, we cautiously treaded through the grass, lead by khaki-clad rangers. My jaw dropped as soon as we could see them clearly: Two males were lazily lounging in the grass, yawning away in the sunlight. We were there right next to them and they didn’t seem to notice! Everyone was silenced by the presence of these majestic animals.

The rangers were like walking encyclopaedia. The best part is that they make learning fun and interesting! One of these moments was when we had the chance to make paper from elephant dung. We used our creative juices and decorated them with leaves and flowers. While waiting for them to dry, we visited the animal rehabilitation centre where we met some of the patients: there were some buffalo, little antelopes, a giraffe and a giant eagle-owl. The rangers explained the problems they have with rhino poaching in this area. Every twelve hours we lose another precious rhino. It was, however, wonderful to hear about successfully rehabilitated animals who were released back into the wild.

Our evening was quite eventful! The school children were divided into two teams and had to race against each other to find clues in the dark. Us Young Explorers had great fun trying to scare them in the dark bushy areas! Armed with compasses and headlamps, the children navigated their way through the uneven landscape. Their checkpoints were marked by skulls that reflect light just like the eyes of an animal would. At every clue they had to answer a question about the things they learnt during the game drives. The guys at Shamwari sure know how to learn and have fun at the same time!

We got up very early this morning, but it was totally worth it. We went out to see the very very wild animals like lions, elephants, cheetah, jackals, zebra and hippos for example and learned about the difference between black and white rhinos and other animals. We even walked closer to two cheetahs and watched them. I´ve never thought I would get that close to all the animals! And they are all beautiful, but cheetahs are my favorite! This made my day!

Later in the afternoon we went to the rehabilitation center which was very interesting and I really like their program! When we got back to our camp side it was already dark and we went out for night walk. We had to look for animals and had to navigate through the dark with only using a compass and headlamp! We also played games where we learned to trust each other and we all succeeded! We then sat around the fire, talked and sang songs together.

After the wonderful day I was very very tired. It´s very nice to be the whole day out in nature, the air is nice and fresh and I love the smell! I wished I could stay longer because I like it so much!

Wow, what an exciting day! And we´ve seen four out of the Big Five!

written by Simon Straetker and Lani van Niekerk

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