The Last Three Days
Arriving at Mbuluzi in total darkness and setting up our tents in pitch black with only one hammer and a bedrock ground was an interesting and probably quite forgettable experience for all of us, especially with the plummeting temperatures. The arrival left us all with a sense of dread about what the coming days on the conservation project had in store as we went to bed, but we needn’t have feared as we spent an unforgettable 3 days working with alongside the staff in the game reserve helping in the conservation of the nature in Eswatini.
During our 3 days at Mbuluzi, we participated in many amazing activities including game drives through the southern area of the game park and helped to create new features in the camp site that we stayed in. This was all in preparation for the annual charity run that was being held on the upcoming Saturday. This was a casual 18km run for charity, which is a bit different from the local village 5km runs that are held back in England.
Some of the group also helped to clear some of the paths that were going to be used for the run. Although only some of the team helped with this, I think the people that didn’t do this were very glad that they weren’t chosen to do this, as the people that came back looked like they had been dragged through the bush of the game park. The tiring work of uprooting trees with only hands and pickaxes in 28-degree heat for hours made the people that didn’t go feel extremely relieved.
Game Drives in Mbuluzi
The game drives were amazing as we got to experience how the rangers worked, even though some didn’t appreciate the sore bruised bottoms from the back of sams pick up, everyone really enjoyed it, and it was a real eye-opening experience. The drive consisted of counting the game as well as the ratio of male to female for certain animals, for example, the nyala, the giraffe and kudu. These are some of the animals that we saw as well as crocodiles, baboons, waterbuck, bush buck, warthog, wildebeest as well as many different species of birds.
The team did a total of 5 drives over three days, with one in the morning and then one in the afternoon. During afternoons, we had time to ourselves, within this time we topped up on our tans as well as going on walks to explore the northern reserve area. The hungry ones within the group went on walks in search of cold fizzy drinks and ice creams. This was a huge luxury for them as we had been drinking orange and apple juice consistently as well as water and squash.
Trekking in Hlane
After leaving Mbuluzi we travelled to Hlane, the final game reserve of the expedition, here we would take part in 3 safaris and an overnight trek. The overnight trek was a surreal experience sleeping out under the stars with only a roll mat and sleeping bag, similar to what you would find on I’m a Celebrity. The trek there was also amazing walking through the bush encountering White Rhino, Giraffe, Impala, wilder beats along with snakes and birds as well. We were treated when we got to camp with a delicious meal cooked by the rangers over the fire that included pork chop and Impala Stew which was slightly weird to be eating antelope but it tasted similar to beef or venison.
After we returned to the camp from the trek we had time to relax with some us choosing to enjoy the deck Chairs and the sun by the watering hole with a view of hippos and Rhinos. In the evening we ventured out on our sunset safaris where we saw Elephant and Lion which was an unbelievable experience to be within 2 or 3 metres of a lion and elephant in the wild.
We have just returned from our sunrise safari where again we saw elephant but we saw an even better view of the lion moving around and being active completed to the night before where they had been sleeping and we are getting ready to head out of camp for our Rhino walk before going back up to the project site at Milindzini for the rest of our work up there.
Everyone is really excited to see our family and friends back at home soon, but we will all miss the amazing moments we have so frequently out here from the lion roars that wake us at 4am to the amazing team of friends that we spend our time with each day, we will miss it all.
AGC Eswatini 2022