River Swim ~ An African Baptism

Swimming when the river flows is the Selati equivalent of making hay while the sun shines. EcoTraining blogger, Victoria, recalls a sunset swim, shared with students and tilapia fish.

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.