Amy’s journey takes her to the wild shores of Kwa-Zulu Natal, where she and friends from LFGA take time-out to recharge and revise their studies before heading back for Phase 2 of their Field Guiding Course.
Break Week: After saying goodbye to everyone who completed their course and recalling the memories we’ve made over the past month, we all went our separate ways. Some people went home to different parts of the world and some traveled together for the 8-day break between phases.
I chose to forgo my plans to visit Mozambique to travel with two pretty amazing people I met during the course. Didi, Waldo and I set out on our 8 hour road trip to the coast. As much as I loved sleeping in a tent the past month it was so nice sleeping in a bed at “The Sundowner Hotel” at the half way point to St. Lucia.
Upon arriving we saw around 10 hippos congregating in the river. We were welcomed at “No Place Like Home” by Alessandra and Alessandro with refreshments and fruit from their garden. The name says it all. We immediately settled into our “home” for the next 4 days. This place is paradise with so many different bird species, bush babies, bats and hippos visiting during the night.
Our breakfast was prepared and ready for us each morning after waking up to a symphony of sounds from the bush. The beach was a short walk away so we took advantage of playing in the waves, exercising on the beach and studying. The sea was a turquoise paradise with very few people in sight; a rare occurrence in a place this beautiful.
Alessandra and Alessandro used the experience they gained during their time at Limpopo Field Guiding Academy to take us on a night drive. It was a new experience going on a game drive after a month of knowledge in the bush allowing everything to come together and make sense. Driving our own vehicle through iSimangaliso Wetland Park was insanely beautiful.
The landscape changed so rapidly in “The Indian Ocean Coastal Belt Biome” and it didn’t take us long to find buffalo, hippo, zebra, crocodiles, monkeys and more bird species than I could count on both hands and feet. We stopped to identify tracks while the Jurassic Park theme song played in our heads. We took advantage of every moment in the bush as well as in the town. At night we watched the hot sun go down over the river while hippos and crocodiles accompanied us.
When Waldo headed home early to enjoy the rest of the break with friends and family, Didi and I continued on our adventure to Cape Vidal for camping. Again, being a short walk to the beach, no time was wasted doing what we love. With salt caked to our skin and my hair bleached from the sun, we packed up and headed back to camp for dinner.
Didi wanted to see a genet all week and as we were braaing (BBQ in South Africa) a large spotted genet kept us company on the ledge by the fire; something we were very fortunate to see. We searched for scorpions at night, gazed at the stars when they were visible and played cards when they weren’t. I practiced my driving skills or lack there of all while Didi feared for his life but everything gets better with practice.
We continued on with our travels to Sodwana Bay for scuba diving at the southern most reef in the world. The fish were plentiful at both “Atons” and “Stringers” dive sites. Didi watched as a moray eel was biting at a green sea turtle when it got too close as I swam along side a hawksbill turtle. There was an octopus who blended in so well I only noticed the brightly colored corals and fish all around us.
Although I was sad to end such an incredible trip I have Phase 2 to look forward to at Limpopo Field Guiding Academy. Paradise isn’t just a place. It’s a feeling you get when you belong somewhere and are a part of something. Some of the best moments in life only last for such a short period of time but the memories last forever.
Stay tuned for the next installment of Amy’s blog as she dives into the second Phase of her FGASA endorsed Field Guide course at LFGA. Week 5 next!