I’ve made it! I’m very happy to say I’ve survived my first two weeks in my new job and so far, so great! For my first couple of days I was fortunate to find the lodge had no guests – this meant the other guide, Vivian, was able to take me out on some orientation drives and show me some of the ropes. This property has a lot of roads – and I mean A LOT! Just looking at the map makes my head roll but, with no time to spare, we began driving on day one to start learning.
It seemed that Klaserie was on her best behaviour that morning because within half an hour we had found a young female leopard, known as Saseka (meaning beautiful), in a tree with a kill. AMAZING. She was a little nervous and quickly jumped down but we got to enjoy her for a minute or so before she moved out of sight. Later on, we decided to chance the same tree again to see if she had come back and found her happily gnawing away on some impala ribs under a bush. Totally chilled this time, we sat with her for a good fifteen minutes before carrying on with my map-learning mission.
Our luck continued as we drove with brilliant sightings of elephant, buffalo and hyena as well as my formal introduction to the 7 resident hippo and solo croc in the dam. However, I wasn’t able to play tourist for long. On day 3 I had my very first guests! Armed with a map and a extra portion of enthusiasm, we had a brilliant few days cruising around the property, including a particularly nerve-wracking close encounter with an elephant bull.
We had stopped about 20 metres away as he casually grazed on the grass without a care in the world. Slowly but surely, he ambled over to our vehicle until he was only a couple of metres away. Feeling a bit uncomfortable, I made a quiet ‘easy, boy’ to remind him that he shouldn’t bump into us and he startled as if he had forgotten we were even there. At that moment, he looked me right in the eye, his humungous tusks and head now a mere metre from mine – so close I could have reached out and touched it! But, of course, I didn’t. I sat there absolutely frozen, my heart pumping so hard I could hear it until finally, thankfully, he decided to leave us alone. What a crazy sighting! You can’t get much closer than that to such a powerful wild animal and live to tell the tale that’s for sure. Feeling on top of the world, I bid my guests farewell a few days later. What an incredible start 🙂