A final change of scenery ... for a few days

Trip Start Apr 18, 2011
Trip End Apr 08, 2012

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Flag of South Africa  , KwaZulu-Natal,
Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A final change of reserve scenery for the next five nights as today we packed up and said goodbye to Thanda before making our way across to Hluhluwe (pronounced with a slurred 's' that makes it sound like you've been sat in the pub for too long). The reserve one of Africa's oldest reserves and is home to all of the big five and plenty more. It's absolutely huge too: an impressive 96,000 hectares of sprawling grasslands, valleys and wilderness areas, split by the Corridor Road that crosses through the middle. The reserve used to in fact be two, but in the late 80s became one huge reserve. As we made the journey into the reserve - a rather bumpy, uncomfortable journey squished in-between boxes of groceries in the back of the Landcruiser - we came across a herd of elephant, warthog, zebra and giraffe, all completely intimidated by the vehicle, and happy to carry on right past us.

The reserve is more basic than the last, but the impressive scenery is something else. The huts are damp and basic, and I have already seem two large rain spiders that gave me cause to erect my mosquito net instantly: I figure nothing can crawl on, and under the bed covers, with the net up.

Our wildlife monitor here is Cathy, a perpetually smiling, extraordinarily tanned lady who seems completely at one with nature: there is no way she would sit still in an urban environment, and she's a delight to be around with her contagiously enthusiastic personality.

It was a really fun, active start to our short stay here today, with a quick painting session: the steel cage that is to be fitted to the back of the Land cruiser tomorrow for safety (and a little more comfort once the benches are added) needed a final coat to prevent rusting, then it was on to a nearby field to join some of the staff with a kick around with a rugby ball. As a result my legs now ache with the unfamiliar feel of exercise: I need to start running again. We played gamers - something I'd never heard of before, which involves kicking the ball as far across the field as possible to try and get it into the other team's goal. Where the ball lands, if the opposing team doesn't catch it, is the point from where they have to kick it across from to try and do the same. For every ball caught, five point are awarded and these point equal steps: the more you collect, the further you can walk across the field as an advantage to make it easier when trying to score that goal. I was exhausted by the end of that game, but a short round of touch rugby followed. I fear my legs are going to hurt a lot tomorrow.
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