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Pridelands Camp

So dense is the animal life of late that, on my arrival at the unfenced camp, I was given a strict safety talk and warned that no less than 4 of the BIG 5 had wandered through camp in the last 24 hours – with the lion tracks to prove it!

Photographs © Emily Whiting

The camp itself has a rustic, authentic feel to it, with living a key message sustainably at its core. Students live in simple dome tents lit by solar lamps and nestled amongst towering jackalberry and apple leaf trees. Hot showers are achieved by burning wood in a ‘donkey’ system, and the lecture tent has a powerful solar panel to handle all the sites’ charging needs. At the heart of the camp lies the boma – a communal area for enjoying meals and deep conversations around the fire, often interrupted by the call of one of the resident owlets. Outside, a natural drainage line circumnavigates the tents, leading to a high-traffic waterhole that brings the constant flow of wildlife to our doorstep. Although conveniently located next to town, you would think you stepped into a forgotten corner of Africa, far away from the chaos and crowds.

Photographs © Emily Whiting

Settling in on my first evening, I hunkered down in my sleeping bag to the haunting call of a hyena interspersed with lions announcing their territory not far to our east. Hours later, I woke up by the rasping sound of a leopard, getting closer each time he called until he was almost at camp. The wildness, it seems, was not an exaggeration. Over the following days, the animal traffic at base continued unabated. Impala, waterbuck and a plethora of birdlife accompanied a pair of buffalo bulls who made their home at the waterhole during the day’s heat. In the evenings, they unabashedly meandered into our living space to graze on the unspoiled grass, occasionally causing havoc as we skirted around them in the fading light. Three elephant bulls made a brief appearance one lunchtime as they quenched their thirst at the dam before disappearing into the bush beyond.

Photographs © Emily Whiting

For three peaceful days, I got to know the students and staff, absorbing myself in their varied stories and reasons for being here. Although coming from all different walks of life, this eclectic mix of British, German, South African and Belgian students all shared one thing in common – a deep love of nature. To come to one of the last wild places in South Africa and live freely amongst nature, a conservationist, it seems, is born in all of us. On my last evening, the sunset filled the sky with brilliant hues of orange and pink as a breeding herd of buffalo came to drink in front of the camp. Dust spilt into the air, and our two vehicles sat side-by-side in silence, appreciating the moment’s serenity. In all, a perfect end to my time at Pridelands.

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About the Author: 

Emily Whiting is a former EcoTraining Professional Field Guide student and currently working as a Field Guide at a 5* lodge in the Greater Kruger, South Africa.

About the Author:
Picture of Emily Whiting

Emily Whiting

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