Written by Alex King-Ellison and Lisa Glutting
Whether our experiences in Thanda came second-hand from the camera screens of our friends or straight through our own incredulous eyes it allowed us a glimpse into a world we’d never imagined. The carefully crafted stories illustrating what it was like to see a leopard and a hyena fight over a carcass made it feel like we were all on the back of the truck sharing in the altercation. Every day we would wake up not knowing what animals we would come across. After a long day in the field, still bursting with anticipation, we stumbled upon the putrid remains of a blue wildebeest. As we edged closer we heard the rustling of brush and the spine tingling sound of teeth against bone. A group member on the truck locked eyes with a glowing eyed predator; a male lion gnawing at his well-earned dinner. We all watched in awe as he continued to eat, despite his nine nervous onlookers. We didn’t think anything could trump that experience. Then, on day eighteen, we caught a glimpse of our first elephants. The wonder and joy in all of our eyes was readily apparent, and it only grew when we witnessed the massive creatures come together in a playful clash of tusk and body over a particularly grassy patch of land. On the final night at Ulwazi lodge we all shared our favourite moments and memories around the campfire. They ranged from understanding distinctive bird calls to creating games, and of course, witnessing the amazing animal interactions in the bush. As the night drew to a close, we reluctantly went to bed; our hearts heavy, knowing that tomorrow was the day we would have to say goodbye to Thanda.
Photo Courtesy of Ruby Chow