Life on the Wild Side!

Howdy folks!

Sorry we’ve been out of reception so long! You definitely know that you’re out in the middle of the African bush when you’re having to climb a water tower to make a phone call or send a text, but despite the technical difficulties, we had an absolute blast!

As you’ll see, I was busy taking photos for us all while we were out, so now you can splurge and finally get to see them all now since you’ve been starved for the past few days.

So what did we get up to while we were out? I’ll take you through it!

Last Friday we left St. Lucia around 5am to make sure we got to Hluhluwe-iMfolozi game park as the sun rose. Hluhluwe-iMfolozi (pronounced kind of like a nerdy kid saying shh-shhlouie im-fo-lo-zee,) is one of the oldest and largest Big 5 game preserves in all of Africa. As we drove around throughout the morning we saw everything from giraffes, warthogs, hyenas, kudu, impala, and nyala; all the way to some of the Big 5 animals like Water Buffalo, White Rhinos and even a herd of wild African Elephants! It was one of the most exciting and awesome things that we had ever seen when we were only about 8 metres (25ft) from a curious male bull! All of us were wide awake and having a blast after that encounter from our safari trucks!!
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As the day went on, we had to finally say goodbye to one of the coolest girls we know, Alex, who had been with a few of usĀ for the last 3 weeks, and our whole Creche group for just the past week. While it was sad having to say goodbye, we know that we’ll all be seeing each other again when we head out to Cambodia next summer for some more volunteering šŸ˜‰
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On a brighter note, we all realized that Hannah from Drakensberg kind of looks like a naked mole rat when she has her hood up and tied, earning her the honor of her new nickname: DJ Rufus. Here’s a photo of her being discovered before she attacks in the African bush!
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After we met up with the other group for lunch, we headed out to our new accommodation in the middle of the African bush on a Water Buffalo reserve where we needed to collect firewood before the sun set so we could have some hot water and start the first of many great nightly campfires.
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On Saturday we all woke up and did a little work on clearing out the buffalo bomas that act as holding pens for any new or outgoing buffalo from the park when they are tradedĀ to other game preserves for healthy breeding herds that are free from Tuberculosis that can affect other animals and infect food herds of the local people and even other animals that people come from all over the world to see.
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Mid morning we headed out to a African Cat sanctuary to hang out with some Caracals, Servals, African Wildcats, and even some Cheetahs! The Cheetahs were so crazy fun, so we all took a photo with them as we petted them! (Pics to follow in the next blog, we have a lot!)
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On Sunday we spent some more time cleaning out the bomas, slowly making more and more progress as we all hacked and shoveled our way through the tall grasses, acacia bushes and weeds! However, after we had spent enough time there, we jumped in the safari trucks and went out to spend some time with one of our favorite animals: the African Elephant!
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Everyone got to meet some rescued elephants that grew up after being saved from an elephant culling operation that went on in Swaziland. Two of them, Rachel and Rambo, both escaped to make their way on to the current reserve, and now are the parents of little Jabu, which means happiness in Zulu. Of course, we decided to get our hands (and shirts) dirty by feeding Rambo and Jabu, getting to do some crazy cool stuff like feeding them, rubbing their ears and tusks, and even putting our hands in their mouth!

After lunch we did some more cleaning, went on a game walk through the park and made some fun crowns out the grasses around us, giving them a little style with random acacia thorns that we picked up off the ground, and Kiki made her own tiara (not to be mistaken for a crown of thorns!)
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Later that night we watched the stars, had fun around the campfire, and went to bed early since we got up at 4am the next morning to make our way out to do some Rhino tacking in a super-secret location.
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At the Rhino preserve, everyone got some experience in how to track wild rhinos on foot. We all ended up about 20 metres (50ft) from 5 adult White Rhinos! It was an incredible feeling knowing that we had been able to locate, identify and track wild rhinos off of nothing more than theĀ initial help from some radio telemetry equipment and the watchful eye of our guide who knew what footprints to look for, how to approach the rhinos safely so that they wouldn’t notice us. We knew we were definitely in Africa at that point!

After a wild day of being out with the rhinos, we headed back to Hluhluwe to get ready for our last day in the game preserve and our morning (today!) volunteering with reptiles!
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This morning everyone had breakfast a bit earlier and loaded up their luggage before we headed out to volunteer at the crocodile centre. It was a sad goodbye for sure! After we arrived, our friend Lawrence welcomed us in with open arms, telling us all about iguanas, snakes, and crocodiles. After we all had taken our turns holding and posing with one of the local Pythons, (yikes!) we all headed out feed the crocodiles and assist with cleaning and improving some of their enclosures. Even had a few jump out of the water for some chicken! We also got to play with some of the baby crocs, which Amy really really really really enjoyed (HA!)
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Now we’re back in St. Lucia, we had a few milkshakes and showers! It’s a great day to be back and see the creche once again tomorrow!

See ya next time!

-Casey

After our workĀ at the croc centre was all wrapped up,

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