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Rie Jensen's blog - A volunteer's perspective

By 6 years ago
Categories Limpopo and KZN

Before coming to Karongwe, I tried my best to find out as much as possible about the reserve, the life the volunteers are living, animals, the town and so on. I had planned the trip for around 8 months, so I’ve been preparing myself for a long time. When I first got here, I was blown away by the surroundings, the hot weather, and how we really live inside the bush. It was very overwhelming to come here knowing nobody, but very soon we all started to make friends. Life here is very simple: we don’t have electricity, only once a day to charge computers, cell phones and cameras. We have drives everyday, unless you are on base duty, or having an off day. In the beginning I was very confused about the different duties, but when everybody helps each other, it gets much easier to get used to everything here.
It is so amazing to live in the bush. During the nights we hear hyenas, bushbabies, frogs and so on. The impalas and the baboons walk straight into the driveway, or hang out on the borderline of our garden. Every day here is different, I have seen so many amazing things here, and I am so thankful that we go out on drive so often. At first it was hard to wake up 4:30 in the morning to leave on drive at 5, but then you learn that it is all worth it. I have been very, very lucky with my sightings here on Karongwe. I have seen a caracal, pangolin, honeybadger and a serval in the mountains. I have seen the cheetahs hunt for impala, subadult lions showing interest in a baby rhino, and I had an amazing leopard sighting of a young female relaxing in the road in daylight.
Every week we go to town to shop, use the internet, and relax and have some nice food at one of our two favourite restaurants. I have also been to the local primary School Diphuti, where small groups of children were learning about animals in English, and in the break we all had a good time playing around with all of the kids, which was amazing, because they were all so extremely happy about seeing us.
During my 8 weeks here I have been to the mountains of Mariepskop twice. It is very different from the bush, because the surroundings change all the times. You drive through natural forest, pine forrest, open savannah and fynbos on top of the mountains. Even at our cabins the view is stunning, and the weather changes instantly. I had a good time catching small mammals, because you get close to the animals, to handle and measure them.
Now that my trip is coming to an end, it is very hard to believe that I am actually going to leave this amazing place, these close friends that I have made, and who come from places far, far away from where I live. At Karongwe, a lot of different cultures meet (especially different opinions on food!) and get along with each other. Not only have I learnt about the South African nature and animals, but I learnt a lot about people as well, because we are all so different from each other. I will remember these 2 incredible months for the rest of my life, and cherish all those special moments, I shared with all my fantastic new friends.
Rie Jensen,
Volunteer January – March 2012