SURVIVING THE BIG FIVE
By Ciaran Gray of Nansen Tent
After being back at Camp for only one night since our return from Malawi, we headed off once again for Malilangwe Game Reserve. We had no idea of the week’s agenda but did know that there was bush and the big five and for one select night we would have to survive a night out in the wild with nothing but the clothes on our backs, and our knowledge of the bush.
On arrival at our camp we were given the rest of the day to set up our tents and relax and explore the surroundings. Our campsite was magnificent with soft green grass, warm showers as well as cooking, dining, and relaxing facilities. All secured by a low lying electric fence, which in all honesty wasn’t meant to stop the animals from eating us, but rather to stop Kurt and the Marffy boys from pillaging the surrounding conservancy area, like the wild men they are!
Every morning we started with a PT session led by the Malilangwe scouts. Not only was their PT a lot harder that the sessions we are used to, but also very different in many ways. A lot of the exercises were based on building teamwork, and character, as opposed to just general fitness.
We were lucky enough to be shown around the 5* Lodge Pamushana and learnt about what it takes to run an establishment like this. The views from here were incredible and we could understand just why it was so expensive to stay there, and what exactly you get for your money.
Throughout every day we saw all types of animals and learned about their characteristics and how to track them through spore and other bits of ’information’ they leave in their wake. By the end of our trip we had seen virtually all the Big Five, with the exception of the Leopard. We had also seen giraffe, zebra, hartebeest, wildebeest, porcupine, several cats and of course many different types of African antelope.
The next couple of days we spent doing team building activities and studying animals and learning how the bush men survived on nothing but the land. This was all in preparation for the next day and night of survival.
The challenge of sleeping out in the bush without a tent or sleeping bag was very daunting for most of us as the majority had never done anything like this before. We faced many challenges, like starvation and dehydration. We also had the added excitement of the odd hyena wandering into our river bed camp. Never-the- less, just like every other challenge that has come our way we made it through, relatively unscathed, and with a great deal more knowledge, not only about survival, but about ourselves too.
Personally this week has been one of my favourite we have had at Quest and as we head off on our 2nd 10 day break, it makes me more and more excited to see what our final semester will have to offer.