I have been watching safariLIVE for two years, but I never thought I’d have the chance to visit the camp and spend time with the crew, as well as see the characters with my own two eyes. So, when the safariLIVE Experience was introduced as a part of the diveLIVE Kickstarter campaign, I knew I had to go!
When I arrived at the Djuma Research Camp, I really didn’t know what to expect. I was greeted by Lungile, who would be my host for the next ten days. She showed me around and introduced me to the safariLIVE & diveLIVE crew. Everyone made me feel welcome. That afternoon, I was invited to sit in FC to watch them work their magic, which is no joke – I think it might have actually been magic; it’s the only explanation.
The next day, I got to tag along on a training drive with James, Lauren, Pat, and Xoli. We saw elephants, a rock monitor, and a herd of buffalo. From my room I could hear a herd of buffalo behind the camp, elephants, hyena, and “go-away birds” ! I was thrilled to tag along on the Sunset and Sunrise Safaris and I was able to go on two bushwalks learning ‘Tracking 101’ with Herbie! I saw many elephants, hyena, newborn impala lambs, lions, wildebeest, nyala, leopards, rhino, side-striped jackal and much more! I loved going birding and learning about the trees and plants with Yvonne and Lungile around the camp itself which is a hub of life.
‘Tracking 101’ with Herbie was absolutely one of the highlights of my visit. We saw Hosana on foot with a kill up a tree and then again later when he was on the ground. Later, we saw him pull the kill down out of the tree to move it. Herbie and his two tracking trainees showed me lion, hyena, and leopard tracks. Everyone was in high spirits and I learned all sorts of interesting things. Herbie found us a lion sitting under a tree. That’s right I got to see a lion, on foot in the wild! Herbie is a delightful person to spend time with. His smile is contagious! He made a bush bracelet for me out of what I think was a flaky thorn. He put it on my wrist. I was at a loss for words. It was amazing!
By far my favourite safariLIVE experience was going on bushwalk with Sydney, Sebastian, and Herbie. We saw a big elephant bull and the extremely rare and highly- endangered wild dogs on foot! I was there when they found the new hyena den on foot. We radioed one of the vehicles to share the location and moved off not wanting to spook Corky and Pretty while moving their cubs into their new home. Then, we saw a leopard (Herbie believed it was Thandi, the famed ‘Queen of Djuma’). Sydney, Seb and Herbie are wonderful people. They made me feel as if I really was a part of the team. I truly enjoyed spending time with all three of them. We had an outstanding morning!
We were also able to go out on one of the Djuma land cruisers to Buffleshoek to see 10 unidentified lions on a buffalo kill! That is something I will never forget. There were 5 females and 5 young males. They drank water and ate their smelly beef leftovers. It was great. A single hyena approached and called out its haunting whooping call with its face toward the ground to amplify the sound. Everyone was silent and watched with amazement, it was magical! After that we drove a short distance to enjoy the famous African safari ‘sundowner’. Then weather picked up, it suddenly became very windy and cool. Rain threatened, but unfortunately never actually materialised. Just a few giant drops fell, hitting our faces as we meandered away from our sunset vantage. We went back to the lions for a short while before racing the weather back to camp for dinner.
While on a Sunset Safari with Sydney and Seb I was fortunate enough to see Tlalamba. She is beautiful! Again, Sydney and Seb are great people to spend time with. They are both generous with their time and they both have great personalities. I believe they absolutely love their jobs! We were treated to a sighting of eight impala lambs together in a little nursery. On my first day, the crew were talking about having just seen the first impala lamb and by the last few days of my trip, they were everywhere. On our way back, we saw one of the other vehicles filming Hosana hiding behind a bush watching an unaware herd of impala. We stopped to add Seb’s camera to the sighting. One hyena walked by and blew Hosana’s cover. It was exciting and I was ecstatic to be able to see it!
safariLIVE is a wonderful gift to the world. I have learned so much from watching. I have a greater understanding and appreciation for African wildlife and an awareness of the necessity of conservation that I didn’t fully appreciate before. When you learn about something wonderful, you can’t help but care.
Thank you safariLIVE crew!