River Swim ~ An African Baptism

The Lowveld has received more rain this year than most locals can remember. Thus far this season has yielded more than double last season’s rainfall, in some places more than 750mm of rain has been recorded.

The Salati River, usually a dry river bed and perfect volleyball court, is now a meandering river paradise

Selati swimming cover - River Swim ~ An African Baptism
Photograph © Victoria Craddock

Swimming when the river flows is the Selati equivalent of making hay while the sun shines. Students, who are just 48 hours away from writing their Apprentice Field Guide (NQF 2) theory examination, have abandoned their books in response to the whispers of the waters. From camp, the maiden splash can be heard, followed by some exciting chatter, then another splash, and another, and another until camp is totally deserted and the river decorated with bobbing heads and peeping toes. Laughter bounces over the water, each giggle the soundtrack of its own moment in time.

“A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself” – Laura Gilpin

Having spent the better part of two months together, this group of students is, in many respects, a family. 55 days in various rustic and wild camps has a way of unveiling one’s authentic self, there is no place – or desire – to hide. Remarkably, no matter the diversity of characters, every quirk is significant in contributing to the vitality of the group. It’s the EcoTraining way.

Selati swimming cover - River Swim ~ An African Baptism
Photograph © Victoria Craddock

As if possessing a form of sensitivity towards the study stress, the river envelopes each person in a restorative embrace. The gentle flow of water creates a unique set of ripples as it ricochets off each individual; be it a person or granite boulder. Floating on their backs, assessment apprehension is transferred from students to the river and carried away with the current.

Wallowing in the Selati River, like amphibious beings, we watch the setting sun. With the tickles of the tilapia fish and the treasure chest squeak of the Golden-tailed Woodpecker, the poignancy of the moment settles in one’s soul. Bliss has befallen EcoTraining’s Selati camp.

A perfect setting to view elephants | Selati Camp

A late afternoon sighting of elephants coming down the Selati river makes for a perfect setting.

About the Author: 

Victoria Craddock is a past Apprentice Field Guide student of EcoTraining and a freelance Blogger.

About the Author:
Picture of Victoria Craddock

Victoria Craddock

Explore more

students in nature with clipboards

Leading the Way to Higher Education in Ecotourism

Are you an aspiring nature guide looking to develop your skills and expertise? Look no further than EcoTraining, Africa’s leading safari and wildlife training institution. EcoTraining has achieved a groundbreaking milestone by becoming the first Guide Training School on the continent to receive accreditation from the Council for Higher Education (CHE) in South Africa.
Let us explain why this is such a significant achievement for EcoTraining and the Field Guiding Industry.

Read more
bee on lavendar plant

Why Bees are Important?

Daily we hear about animals whose population numbers are in decline, but did you know that the humble Bees numbers are also in decline and they too are at risk of extinction?

Read more
arrow-marked babbler

The Magic of the Morning Chorus

Imagine yourself early in the morning in the middle of the South African bush; the sun is just about to rise, and the wildlife begins to wake up. You close your eyes and listen. What can you hear?

Read more

Start your wildlife career

Want to become a field or nature guide? Explore our immersive courses and training programmes for professional safari guides and guardians of nature, taught and led by experts in the industry.

EcoTraining offers career and accredited courses, wildlife enthusiast courses, gap year programmes and customised group travel courses.

Join our nature-loving community.