31 Jan 2018 The most interesting thing is always the last to be witnessed by André de Jager
Every day can be seen as a repeat of the previous. Wake up. Roll out of bed into the nearest facility that allows you to wash away the sleep from your eyes. Get dressed. Perhaps grabbing a quick cup of coffee or a bite of toast before marching into the day that lays ahead like a steep hill.
For many this routine could be a burden, but as a guide in a wildlife reserve this time could not arrive any sooner.
After the quick cup of coffee before greeting your group of guests for the morning drive, one cannot shake the excited feeling of driving out into the early morning mist still lingering over the Lowveld thickets. Being greeted by the all so eager Red Chested Cuckoo in the distance, you set off in search for anything that the bush throws at you, hoping that this would be the day that Lady Luck has decided to rest in your favour.
Finding fresh tracks of leopard, laid down a few hours before your arrival to the scene sparks excitement as the hunt begins to find the illusive one. This followed by the faint barking of bushbuck as it calls out alarms to any nearby antelopes. And the occasional rhino wallowing in a shallow mud pool as the heat of the day sets in. Bypassing giraffe, as they keep a keen eye on the all so funny looking group of people in a metal box and bearing witness to the sparring match between a few impala rams.
It starts to get much more interesting as the day carries on into the late afternoon where after another round of sightseeing peers into the last opportunity to stretch some legs before the day comes to an end. Greeted with a refreshing drink and the Camp Jabulani herd of elephants passing over the dam wall, you get the sense of calmness as the last few minutes of the day plays off in front of you like a theatrical performance.
As a guide this is the part of the day where time comes to a halt… and you get to take a moment to forget about the hours sitting behind the wheel of your safari cruiser and take in the beauty as the day sends its final greetings. With the sun kissing the horizon, deep orange and pink colours light up the sky as it receives the final stamp of approval from the territorial lion advertising his dominance in the distance.
As the darkness sets in and time comes to head on back to the main house, you cannot help but replay the day in all its magical ways next to a smouldering fire before laying your head back on the pillow. Drifting into the imagination filled dreams, knowing that another day with all of its incredible sights is on the way.
André de Jager is a Ranger at Camp Jabulani.