Lion, Buffalo and Birthdays
By Shannon Farrell
After a very long and sweaty drive down from the Chimanaimanis, to the lowest area in Zimbabwe, we arrived at the beautiful Malilangwe Game reserve. Bordering on Gonarezhou on the one side it is home to the’ big five’ of which we were lucky enough to see four in our short stay!
Our first day started off with us meeting the renowned Malilangwe scouts for our PT. It was greeted with nervous anticipation as we stretched out and started off with a warm up – followed by some competitive team building exercises involving logs and tyres! It turned out to be a lot of fun and we all enjoyed the effort we put into it.
Adding to our nervousness about our ‘not-so-eagerly’ anticipated ‘Survival 24hrs’, which we knew to expect, we stared off learning about a variety of bush techniques and knowledge which was incredibly fascinating and gave us a much deeper appreciation of all our creature comforts.
Sunday saw us travelling a few kilometres off out of the reserve to a secluded Shangaan village where the locals taught us a lot more about survival. From water divination to friction fires and arrowhead making, whip making and eating in the bush… we got a taste of it all.. (literally…They even cooked for us). The experience was topped off with some cultural dancing which we then joined in on (costumes and all no less!)
Despite our hectic first few days we managed to see an incredible amount of game. I think one of the highlights of this experience has been having the opportunity to see both black and white rhino in the wild. What a special thing to have witnessed in this day and age. We were also treated to a few hours at a hide watching some elephant – they are such children in the water, but what a pleasure to watch them at play.
The dreaded ‘survival’ eventually happened on Monday and we discovered that it really wasn’t all that bad… shock horror! – We mostly enjoyed it apart from the odd ‘hangry’ moment. About half way through the day after snaring some doves – rather mega feeding for over 15 people, we came across a monitor lizard. What a scene it was… the boys (scouts included, proving that boys do never grow up!) scaled up a rather tall and thorny acacia tree to catch the elusive lizard. At one point there were 3 of them all stood on each other’s shoulders. Losing was not an option! We final resorted to using the cruiser winch and down the tree came.. lizard and all…with a big crack and a lot of cheering, of course. The trophy was then proudly carried by the tail and ceremoniously lowered into the truck.. blood dripping everywhere… Victory was had! Quest 1 – Lizard 0.
After some fishing with bush rods.. (sticks) we managed to catch our unwilling dinner which we cooked over our friction fires along with our lizard and doves. We then were serenaded by the laughing and whooping hyena which lurked around the riverine area where we were sleeping. Not much sleep was had, funnily enough (nothing to do with the hyena of course). Our survival concluded with a wakeup call to cook eggs.. with no utensils. It was certainly an exercise in creativity. This was followed by an awesome game of ‘mud ball’ which was great fun and got quite physical. We ended off with quite a lengthy walk and team exercise. We killed the record for this exercise of 45 seconds, by 14 seconds. Go Mixed Core!
As the day wound down we eventually got clean and had our ‘feeding’ as the villages put it. We all appreciated what we had in life, especially having got so close to buffalo, elephant, rhino and lion in the space of 4 days.
Night time saw us celebrating another birthday, complete with drinks and a cake. Here’s to you Kath, all the very best.
And now…. the 10 day break is calling us. May much fun be had by all. Check ya later!