In a previous blog, I spoke about what rangers do on their day off. One of the activities is walking.
Rangers John Mohaud, Nick Sims, Chris Taylor and I decided to walk Londolozi’s entire boundary south of the Sand River a few days ago. A challenge we had spoken about for a while and which a full day off provided us with the perfect opportunity.
Here’s how the day unfolded…
Distance: 40 km’s in 10 hours.
Now I know that doesn’t sound like the fastest time, especially when Eliud Kipchoge is running marathons in under two hours, but keep in mind we weren’t in a race but rather appreciating what was around us.
John, Nick and myself left at 6 am with packed lunches and lots of water. We also took a few delicious rusks for a coffee stop on the 10km mark which is right where we saw our first rhinos of the day. We took the time to watch them from a safe distance and see the interaction between a mother, sub-adult and calf.
Although we spoke a lot, about subjects ranging from from cars to wildlife behaviour and back to the Springboks winning the World Cup, there were larger parts of silence too. One stretch in particular – in the open areas where zebra, wildebeest and a large rhino bull passed us – left us taking in how fortunate we are to be able to walk in this wilderness area. At one point owner Dave Varty drove past us and he said it perfectly, “It is always good to take the time to connect with the land.”
It wasn’t long after walking the far western boundary that we spotted a large herd of buffalo a few hundred meters from us. We were excited as we hadn’t seen this large herd in a week or so. Watching them graze towards a nearby waterhole to drink, we also took the time to rehydrate.
Almost 18km in, we realized we definitely didn’t pack enough water; 4 hours down and it was well over 30 degrees Celsius. It was at this point that Nick had to get back to camp to pick up new guests, and Chris Taylor came out to join us, bringing some water all the way from camp to our southern boundary.
We had gone through many varied terrain types by this point, one of the things that makes Londolozi so unique; multiple habitats make for a wonderful diversity of game drive experiences.
Along the way we could not get enough of hearing John’s stories about how the land has changed since he first came to Londolozi (more than 20 years ago). He spoke about where they used to drive to and sightings he had seen in different areas we passed. Not only can the land teach you so much, but wisdom from those who have been in a place long before you, can too. Walking with John was a honour and hearing his stories made this walk a journey.
We stopped under a Natal Mahogany for a long lunch break during the heat of the day, where we shared more stories and watched giraffe run by.
35 km in and we had made it back to the Sand River, with temperatures now at 38 degrees and our legs feeling slightly fragile. All of this was forgotten quickly when we saw three breeding herds of elephant spread out in the river feeding and rumbling. We sat and watched as the calves irritated the mothers and they all searched for shade.
We had our last sips of water and headed back to camp, finishing at 4pm. Sore and tired yet with smiles on our faces. After encounters with many animals and time well spent with good friends, it’s a day I will always appreciate and an activity I long to do more of.