Tony and his wife Nicola were accompanied by the winners of the Africa Geographic competition we had run over recent months for an exclusive three-night experience at our new field camp where tracking game on foot was the order of the day. The prize winners, Andre and Alejandra, were flown in from Cape Town and for Alejandra (who is originally from Argentina) it would be her first ever African Safari.
Arrival in camp was exciting for everyone, as although they had seen images and read about the field camp experience, to truly understand the setting of the camp you need to be there in person. As everyone settled into their tents the realization of exactly where they were set in and was made even clearer by the roaring of lions close by.
As the field camp is completely unfenced, Dale and Ginger (our rangers leading the group) briefed everyone on safety and made it clear that no one was to walk around at night without a ranger present. The continued roaring made it very easy for everyone to agree to this! After a night around the fire sharing stories and absorbing the sounds of the African bush, everyone was woken by the smell of fresh coffee – and if this didn’t work then the sound of a leopard calling in the riverbed right next to camp certainly did the trick! After a warm cup and some breakfast everyone set off on foot in search of game.
Tony and Nicola had been on walking safaris before so they knew how exciting it is to be tracking game on foot, but for Andre and Alejandra this was a very new and very thrilling experience. Soon everyone realized just how much activity there had been during the evening in and around camp, as Hyena, wildebeest, porcupine and even rhino tracks were found within the first 100 metres of the walk!
Dale and Ginger led the group through the bush sharing their knowledge of not only the larger game, but the smaller species and plant life as well. The three hour walk left everyone with memories of exciting wildlife encounters and a greater knowledge of the local area and wildlife. It also built up a hearty appetite and upon arrival in camp everyone enjoyed a tasty breakfast prepared by the team!
During the morning walk the team at Tanda Tula Safari Camp had been hard at work preparing the location of the book launch, which took place north of camp on the Nhlaralumi riverbed. After breakfast and some time relaxing in camp, everyone set off for the book launch, attended by a variety of people from the Hoedspruit and Timbavati area. While everyone enjoyed a lunch prepared by Chef Ryan, Tony shared a few of his stories and gave a little background on The Prey, later keeping very busy signing everyone’s books.
After the book launch the guests of Tanda Tula field Camp enjoyed an exciting game drive where they watched a local pride of lion hunt a large herd of buffalo. The young males of the pride showed some of their inexperience as they rushed in too early and missed their mark. The herd quickly moved off while the pride sulked away, considering their new plan of attack. That evening it was a chilly one, and everyone was once again huddled around the fire talking about the day’s activities.
The bush walk the following morning produced what is arguably one of the most special encounters to be experienced on foot. Dale and Ginger once again led the team and very soon found fresh rhino tracks. Cautiously and quietly, the group moved forward following the tracks through the bush keeping a close eye out. As we were closing in we heard hyena in the distance, and as the rhino was very close we decided to see what the raucous was about and then return to the tracks. We began to enter an open plain where the hyena calls were coming from, and as we did so Dale went from relaxed and focused, to extremely excited. He had spotted wild dog. We had all spotted wild dog!
The scene is front of us was a busy one, with the hyena darting in and out of the wild dog pack and the dogs chasing them left and right. It appeared the wild dog had made a kill and the hyena had come in to steal it from under their noses. The dogs were clearly having none of that and so the battle erupted. After the while the wild dog pack didn’t feel the battle was worth it, and so they heading off to the right in search of more food. By the time we had all recovered from the excitement of such a special sighting it was time to head back to camp for some breakfast.
Tony, Nicola, Andre and Alejandra enjoyed the last night in camp before it was time to head home the following morning.
Although their field camp experience was over, they had gained a number of special memories and much knowledge of the African bush. Perhaps lying in bed today they still hear those close lion calls that they experienced on their very first night.
If you are interested in reading more about the Tanda Tula Field Camp experience click here.