Extraordinary Adventures from Karongwe

To say that my camp visit to Karongwe allowed me to have the most incredible wildlife experience of my life must be an understatement. Nothing could have prepared me for this visit. Upon arriving at Karongwe, I quickly put my things inside my tent and darted to explore my surroundings. 

Camp life

One of the first things I noticed was how lush and green the vegetation was for the beginning of Winter. One of the other unique things I love about this place is the Nyalas who call it home. They gracefully roam around the buildings and tents during the day and bundle up in the bush at night. They are my favourite antelope. Their beauty and presence give life a different feel in the camp. 

After exploring camp and hearing all the fascinating bush stories from the staff, we gathered for dinner under the jackalberry tree. Its branches spread high and wide and canopies over the entire Boma area. The ladies in the kitchen cooked up a storm and braaied the meat on the fire for us. 

Surprise encounter

I will never forget how I met Jeff – a fascinating little creature. Jeff is a large-spotted genet. After our braai, we were relaxing around the boma area, and Jeff curiously snuck right up to my back to give me a little sniff. 

My colleague whispered for me to turn around slowly, and I was pleasantly surprised to turn and catch the large, glossy eyes of Jeff right behind me! He wasn’t bothered but eventually did turn around and hurry off to find something to eat. Recent research has found that genets enjoy eating nectar from flowering plants and play an essential role in pollinating plants. I was having one fantastic experience after the other. Little did I know what was still in store for me!

Heading out for the big adventure

I woke up at dawn the following day and met my colleagues at the safari vehicle for our first game drive. It was a relaxed drive, and we had many unique sightings. At one stage, we sat and watched a pod of hippos in a pool, waking up and interacting with each other. 

Later, Norman, an EcoTraining Instructor, stopped, turned the vehicle off, and allowed us to soak in the fantastic morning sounds of the bush. He then loudly started mimicking local bird calls, and within seconds, birds came flocking from all directions into the trees around us, chirping and singing and calling back to Norman as if they spoke the same language! A real goosebumps moment! 

Cheetah sighting on foot

After driving further, we spotted the three cheetah brothers lazily catching the morning sun on a large granite boulder. With now armed Norman, we hopped out of the vehicle and quietly walked up to them to get a closer look. They acknowledged our presence but paid no attention to us whatsoever. They didn’t feel threatened or disturbed by us at all. The brothers let us into their world. After a few minutes of stretching, yawning, and gentle headbutts, they got up and almost instantly went into hunting mode as they leapt off the rock. They allowed us to walk along with them for a short distance, but eventually, we decided to leave them to hunt in peace. It was a memorable moment I will not forget – the absolute highlight of my time at Karongwe! 

Encounters to treasure

Reflecting on the bird concert with Norman, the graceful nyalas in camp, meeting a curious genet named Jeff, witnessing the cheetah brothers in their morning routine, and having the opportunity to walk with them made me feel privileged and appreciative of nature. I can’t wait for my next extraordinary adventure! 

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We call him Genet Jackson

We join EcoTraining Professional Field Guide student Sophie Burkhart for the first episode of our new ‘Nocturnal Visitors to our Camps’ series. In this series, we look at the animals that love visiting our camps. Last night, our students enjoyed spotting a large-spotted genet, whom we named Jack or Janet. Despite our presence at the campfire, the large-spotted genet seemed unfazed and even caught a mouse right before our eyes. It was quite a sight to see!

About the Author:
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E-learning (Keisha)

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