Unicorns, mythical beasts that are confined to fairy tales and children’s storybooks, right? Wrong. If you come to South Africa and look deep into the African bush you might just see one. No, I’m not talking about the fabled horses/goat type animal with flowing manes and a single horn, but rather something that is more prehistoric, a critically endangered herbivore, a mammal with stunning grey skin, and two beautiful but deadly horns.
Society tells us our lives will be mapped out by our youth and our ambition: what schools we attend, who we marry, or what high-paying career we take on. But those are not the only factors that determine our paths. Sometimes tectonic forces are working deep below our feet, waiting to show us paths we had not prepared for when we least expect them—after our careers, our schooling, and our lives are pretty much sorted out. Or so we thought…
In the middle of the Mashatu bush, in the early hours of the morning, I was woken by the loud roar of a male lion. I was hesitant to get out of bed and shine my touch to see if the lion was anywhere near my tent. I decided to climb back into bed. By the sound of the roar, the lion was not that close to the camp.
As the sun slowly rises over the horizon the dawn chorus of a new day starts. Crested Francolins call in duet and the birds of prey start to warm up, desperately waiting to catch a morning commute with the rising thermals. It is here on the Southern side of Ndlovu dam where JP Le Roux and myself are doing some filming for our Youtube channel while enjoying a morning French pressed coffee.
I like to end the day relaxing in front of my tent doing a few yoga stretches, enjoying the silence of the camp, the evening song of the birds, and marveling in the feeling of the last of the rays of the winter sun before it disappears for the day.
On hearing the alarm calls of the Nyala that hang around the camp, I stopped for a minute, listening, holding my breath, to see if I could hear what had disturbed them. And then…
I’ve always told my guest when walking out in the bush to read it like a book. Start on the horizon and scan from left to right and don’t forget to scan the trees close to you, there might be a Black Mamba looking back at you from its den. It’s definitely a question of who is looking at who out in nature.
One thing we all know is true: once you have been to the African bush, you are never quite the same again. It is an impossible experience to convey to anyone who hasn’t been, and if you are reading this, you are among those of us that never tire of going on safari.
I found myself speed walking to gate number C6 at Cape Town International airport. With way too many bags strapped over my shoulders, I shuffled towards the stairs going to the desired gate. From nowhere a friendly face stopped me and drew my attention to my shoes, this literally stopped me in my tracks.
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