Sunday, June 19, 2011

Imbambala June 16-19

The trouble with South Africa is that no matter what happens it captures you. Your brain becomes curious of the wildlife, awestruck by the sights, and uncertain of the culture.- Unknown

We reached a body of water and three boats at the end of our drive. The boats carried us and what was left of our belongings 20 minutes down the river to a small camp in the bush. We passed a few grazing giraffes and the eyes of a dozen bush babies on the banks. The sun went down about ten minutes in and revealed a black velvet sky riddled with stars. The whole scene was breathtaking and at that moment Africa didn’t seem so bad anymore. We reached the dock and brought our things to the tents and went to main lodge to hang out. Dinner was an impala that was freshly hunted that day by other guests at the camp. After dinner we fed nyala and told stories by the campfire. A generator provided all the electricity to the camp and was only run at night. The water was pumped up from the river and was not suitable to brush your teeth with, so bottled water and a cup were set by the sink.

A chicken alarm went off to wake us for breakfast, it was extremely annoying sound to wake up to. We set out on the boats for a tracking lesson. Next to the beautiful mountains we saw tracks from hyena, leopard, zebra, giraffe, hippo and rhino. They took us through the trees (there was no trail) following rhino tracks. We saw all sorts of signs of their crossing and knew that they were close. Each end of the line bared rifles as we walked in silence toward the rhino. Suddenly, the guide sat us down and told us to look through the trees. There, grazing and quite unaware of our presence, were three adult white rhinos and one calf. When they caught wind of our cameras snapping pictures, they ran off. Later that day we learned about the different wildlife and trees that they have there. Our next tracking lesson showed a big animal rolling on the ground and when we reached the end of the trail we saw a big animal all right, a bunch of them actually. There were a couple dozen hippos in the water voicing their concern about us being in their territory. As a warning one even jumped out of the water similar to the way a whale does. We moved on to safer ground and talked about bush survival. I learned what trees I can make a fire with and which ones to get water from.

That afternoon we did some target practice to see who the best shot was. I scored 13 out of 20 and only lost by 3 points. Later on, we had a boat ride out to learn some astronomy. We found the Southern Cross and learned how to find south from it, along with Alpha and Beta Centauri, Scorpio, and Sirius. A handful of shooting stars littered the sky that night. That night, we had kudu which was also freshly hunted.

Our final day at Imbambala was the most fun. We traveled about an hour away piled on trucks that broke down, through the bush and grasslands to a cliff. A 90 foot drop down to the water’s edge was our plan for the day; we were going abseiling. As you slowly tipped over the edge of the cliffs one foot at a time, relying only on ropes to save you, you felt invincible. The water was blue below you and you had a small area of ground to land on. By the time your feet touched you wanted to go another 90 feet! This ended up being of one my favorite places because Imbambala, with its “hurry up and wait” attitude, amazing amount of knowledge, and leopards roaming at night, was dreamlike.

No comments:

Post a Comment