After 5 lightning fast months, my internship at Return Africa has come to an abrupt end. It is time to say goodbye to some of my favourite places, from the magnificent Lanner Gorge to the beguiling Fever Tree Forest. Truly, no other place I have ever visited has such varied beauty in such a small place.
Being one of the most remote lodges in the country, as far north and east as the map allows before hitting the borders of Zimbabwe and Mozambique, the guides fondly dubbed themselves ‘rangers of the north’. With a passion for nature surpassing almost all others, I was proud to be able to work alongside such a team. It wasn’t always plain sailing; as the only girl and someone of a rather different background, there were bound to be some mishaps along the way. However, we made it work and, safe to say, I will miss them greatly.
Most of all, though, I will miss the walking. Having the freedom to take a walk amongst a hundred buffalo just because there was nothing else going on that day. Living in 26,000 hectares of prime Kruger land and having only 10 roads to disrupt that feeling of being lost in the wilderness (hypothetically speaking!) Being connected to nature in a way that takes us right back to our ancestors. Feeling the soil under my feet and listening to the myriad bird calls around me every single day. I’m sure I’ll never walk in such an amazing place again yet, although I am sad to leave behind this incredible place, I go with a happy heart.
I’m heading to a beautiful lodge in an amazing part of the country and, in time, I will be walking once more. Only a small fraction of foreign students are able to find real employment in the guiding profession and, through a combination of hard work, determination and a bit of luck, I happen to be one of them. I may be leaving a paradise behind me, but I’m about to begin my greatest adventure yet – it’s time to be a real guide! I can’t wait.