It’s not a goodbye but a see you soon

Hello, Bonjour and Salibonani from Matopos National Park, Southern Matabeleland where my Zimbabwean journey ends with my last horse safari. It’s very sad to say but unfortunately my time in Zimbabwe has already come to an end, time just seemed to be flying by way too fast and almost 3 months have passed by since I have arrived! So many fun and exciting days with lots of lessons learned, adventures lived and wonderful highlights experienced. I am thankful for every single moment.

My last safari with Ridezimbabwe was very special as I finally had the chance to get to sleep under the star sprinkled sky, in the middle of the African winter. Ah it was very cold during the night but also so unique! We slept close to the water at Toghwana Dam after a long drive finding that place. At least 3 times we got lost, everyone on the road directing us in opposite directions. It was driving me crazy! I neither speak Ndebele nor Shona but I still understood we were completely lost in the bush; driving madly back and forth and even in circles on the dirt roads. After 4 hours and 120km we finally arrived, pitched up our rustic campsite and enjoyed the bonfire.

I chose to sleep next to the horses and saw plenty of shooting stars rushing through the pitch black sky. What a wonderful night outside, the perfect way to end my African adventure. 

The next day we had to get ready, pack everything and load our 8 horses into the big lorry to drive them back home to Umguza, where they can rest now after plenty safaris in the last weeks.

I have spent my most interesting months here in Zim with plenty of fun experiences. It has definitely been the best job that I have had in my live so far; teaching me how fragile life can be.

I am so grateful that I got to witness a little foal being born, which was just the most magical moment in Cawston Wildlife Estate (see this blogpost). 

I am so happy that I had the chance to enjoy plenty of magnificent sunsets in the African bush, one more spectacular than the other (see this blogpost). 

If I have ever seen magic, it has been in Africa.

John Hemingway

I am so thankful that I was taught how to shoot a 0.22 and a 0.375 at the shooting range, definitely a fun experience (see this blogpost). 

I just feel so blessed for all amazing people I have met and all the fun adventures I lived through in a gorgeous country, desperate for some economical changes. I could get to travel to different places in Zimbabwe such as: 

  • Matopos National Park, where I got to see the rhinos (see this blogpost), 
  • Hwange National Park, where I found some lions laying in the bush while I was riding (see this blogpost),
  • Vic falls, a city full of adrenaline, which I got to know when I got mock charged by an elephant bull (see this blogpost),
  • Zambezi National Park, where I saw the buffalos so that I had finally seen the big 5 here in Zim (see this blogpost), 
  • And Bulawayo, where my Zimbabwean journey began with a little foal (see this blogpost).

I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up that I was not happy.

Ernest Hemingway

My new lessons learned during my last horse safari in Matopos National Park:

  1. Never trust people along the road when asking for road directions – everyone will direct you onto another path.
  2. When sleeping under the stars in winter, choose a place under the trees – or you might wake up very wet.
  3. Enjoy the dark sky with plenty of shooting stars – better have lots of wishes ready to choose from!

When you leave Africa, as the plane lifts, you feel that more than leaving a continent you’re leaving a state of mind. Whatever awaits you at the other end of your journey will be of a different order of existence.

Francesca Marciano

Cheers to wandering the world and the wonders of our lives, Africa has always its own special ways to find you somehow – bye bye, salut and lisale kuhle ∞

A big grey giant and a small stone

Hello, Bonjour and Salibonani from Cawston Wildlife Estate, Northern Matabeleland where I help for about 2,5 months with the horses. My very last horse Safari on this game reserve has just finished with an epic sundowner and an even more spectacular full moon rising above the horizon! Just such a special sighting here in the African bush.

My last day at Cawston was lots of fun, I got to shoot a 0.375 rifle. First shot on the shooting range was just for a practice round with a smaller ammo and somehow I missed the target completely. Probably I was just too scared of the noise and the pushback. The next shot was with the big ammo and I was very nervous as I knew this pushback is going to be even stronger – but I had no idea what really is going to happen. When I pulled the trigger I just had automatically to take a step back due to the forces on my body. Unfortunately, I missed the bullseye but at least I hit the bigger target this time. Lots of fun but still plenty of practice ahead of me to become a professional hunter…

It’s time to say goodbye to my lovely home in Cawston Wildlife Estate as my Zimbabwean journey takes me to Matopos National Park for my very last Zimbabwean horse safari.

Last time I was here, I saw a rhino (see this blogpost) on a game drive from a vehicle. This time I got even more blessed! It’s been about 3 weeks since I last sat on a horse, due to my foot injury from the spiderbite. So, I was very happy when I jumped on my horse, Engine, to go on a bushride in this colorful winter scenery. Engine showed me that he really deserves his name, it was a dancing party for the whole 5 hours while we were bundu bashing. This made it hard for me to look for wildlife as I had to concentrate on my horse.

We were tracking and tracking and suddenly we stood just right in front of this majestic looking grey, big cow. First I thought she was standing next to a stone until I realized she had a little calf with her that was sleeping on the ground. How gorgeous was that?! Fabulous sighting.

The afternoon ride had some wonderful sceneries for us, we got even a few rain drops creating a beautiful rainbow. Winter has fully arrived and shows off with great colors and fantastic sunsets. We found one spot from where we had an awesome view on the valley in front of us, enjoying the sun setting behind the hills.

My new lessons learned while helping at Cawston Wildlife Estate:

  1. Enjoy the full moon rising just above the horizon – it’s such a spectacular moment to see the moon crawling up behind the trees.
  2. Don’t forget your earplugs when shooting a 0.375 – lots of noise but lots of fun!
  3. Always have your jacket with you – June can show you some very cold winter days.

Cheers to wandering the world and the wonders of our lives, hope to see you soon for my last fun days in Matopos – bye bye, salut and lisale kuhle ∞

Last Safari in Cawston

Hello, Bonjour and Salibonani from Cawston Wildlife Estate, Northern Matabeleland where I help for about 2,5 months with the horses. The Cawston family is still growing and a second little foal was born, which we were waiting for the last couple of days. It’s a very cute and healthy little male with dark brown fur and a white star on his face. He runs around with our little female foal that was born almost 2 weeks ago (see this post) and the other donkey babies.

We just finished one horse safari on Cawston Wildlife Estate and started a new one. It’s always fun times even though it can get quite hectic. This will be my last safari in Cawston where I help Ridezimbabwe to operate the bush rides before I will head southwards to Matopos National Park.

Unfortunately, I still struggle with my tick bite fever that has just possibly turned out to be a spiderbite according to my second visit to the doctor. It’s actually really confusing to me what it is and how to treat it. However, I really hope it’s going to get better just now, which can be basically everything between a couple of days and some months. I really want to go out on outrides in the bush and join the safaris for my last few days in beautiful Zimbabwe.

Everything in Africa bites, but the safari bug is worst of all!

Brian Jackman

Meanwhile, I had the possibility to join two hunts, one for an impala and one for a zebra that was needed for lion bait. We never found an impala on that one day, but I enjoyed walking through the tick bushes, where I got caught up in the thorns every now and then. Whereas the zebra hunt was very quick and successful. We started first thing in the morning just when the sun was rising over the horizon showing off with the most lovely orange colored sky. We stalked a herd of zebras for a short time but they noticed us and ran away. So we drove to another spot, where we saw zebras just in front of the car. The shooting was so quick, I couldn’t even take a picture. Afterwards, we had to load the zebra on the truck and we drove straight back to the butchery. The job was done by early morning so there was plenty of time left to cuddle with all the foals.

I spent my first Friday night in town and got to experience the Bulawayo bars, which was lots of fun. As there was a power cut that day, we were dependent on the generators and hopped from one bar to another and back again to the first place. Funny enough we started and ended in one place that I saw when I had just started my Zimbabwean journey as it was a bar in front of the stables, where I helped with the donkeys and rescued horses. It turns out that Zimbabwe and it’s community is smaller than I thought.

The next morning, I got to experience the real city vibes of Bulawayo as I went to the bend over market, where you can basically buy everything from clothes to make-up. It was very interesting to see this kind of African flee market. However, I am very happy to have left the city and be back in the bush!

My new lessons learned while helping at Cawston Wildlife Estate:

  1. You can be bitten by plenty animals in the bush, but it’s still the most lovely place to be.
  2. Going on a hunt can be a very quick job.
  3. Bars in town close whenever the generator will be switched off.

Cheers to wandering the world and the wonders of our lives, hope to see you soon – bye bye, salut and lisale kuhle ∞

The mighty falls of Zimbabwe

Hello, Bonjour and Salibonani from Cawston Wildlife Estate, Northern Matabeleland where I help for about 2,5 months with the horses. Unbelievable, but we have another new member in our family that was born in the middle of the bush on the game reserve, a little female donkey. She is now in the paddock with the male baby donkey as well as our lovely foal. All running and playing happily.

For one day, I got to go on another bird shoot and this time I could also walk through the bush with everyone to find guinea fowls to be shot at. It was a very interesting day with lots of birds that got catched. In the evening we had a braai in the middle of the bush with a magnificent sunset, it seems to be very special each night, just fabulous!

For the next couple of nights, I went up to Victoria Falls to see the mighty Zambezi falling into the gorge. It was a fantastic 2 days trip, where I got to go to the Zambezi National Park, saw elephants, giraffes, kudus, zebras and even buffalos. I have finally seen all big fives here in Zim and just feel so lucky about it!

On the way to the gorge, where I wanted to do the Zipline, I got mock charged by an elephant. Luckily, I wasn’t alone as I probably would have just run into the rest of the herd behind me. The young bull was on the opposite side of the rest of his group, which I just noticed later. This encounter was the most adrenaline kick during these days, way more than the Zipline itself.

The Zipline goes through the Zambezi gorge, just after the falls, where the water finds it way in a zick zack pattern. The ride was quite fast and a lot of fun, especially the way back to the starting point offered an epic view towards the majestic bridge, connecting Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Afterwards, we passed through 2 border posts to make our way from Zimbabwe to Zambia with a short visit of Livingstone and a hike along the falls on the Zambian side. Here, I had the chance to walk all the way down into the gorge and be on the same level as the Zambezi. The river should be at a very high level now but due to rain shortages, the river carries only a fraction of what it should. This gave me the opportunity to actually get some nice views of the falls with plenty of rainbows. Of course I got wet but not soaked as it normally would be the case during this season.

From this eastern tip of the falls in Zambia, I walked my way back to the most western point of the falls on the Zim side, where I had the perfect view of the sun setting behind the falls. Such an amazing day and a wonderful experience! Glad I had the chance to take off of work for 2,5 days and enjoy this great journey.

My new lessons learned while experiencing the Vic falls:

  1. If you get mock charged by an elephant, pray for some competent friend to be around you.
  2. Watching the Zambezi falling into the gorge on the Zim side, is at its best during golden hours.
  3. You can hike down into the rocky gorge on the Zambian side of the falls. 

Cheers to wandering the world and the wonders of our lives, hope to see you soon – bye bye, salut and lisale kuhle ∞

Magical moment of life

Hello, Bonjour and Salibonani from Cawston Wildlife Estate, Northern Matabeleland where I help for about 2,5 months with the horses. Unfortunately, not only one of our horse has tick bite fever (see this blog post), but also I am affected by it now. A couple of days I thought I am getting the flu, until I remembered the tick bite I had. So, I had to go into town again to see a doctor and get antibiotics. That’s why I have to miss out another amazing safari in Hwange National Park. Hopefully it will be better soon and I can go back to riding again, to enjoy my last month here in this fabulous bush.

Meanwhile, I lunge some of the horses, especially our beloved Zhovhe that still isn’t too happy when a sand bag is put on his saddle. He still isn’t fully broken in and there is a long way to go. I am just hoping he doesn’t have any back issues.

Last weekend I got to shoot with a rifle for the very first time ever at the shooting range here in the reserve. Quite an exciting thing to do and I have to say I do like it. The targets I was shooting at were about 25 m at distance. Didn’t look too far compared to my very first shot I did a couple of weeks ago trying to hit the tomato (read this blog). I am quite proud, as I always hit the bulls eye as well as the stones. Just my second last shot was the only time I missed one of the stones, so I am very happy with my first trials!

Afterwards, we went for a magnificent sundowner on the ridge on the other side of the reserve that is a 20 mins drive away from the homestead. This time, we were finally on time to watch the sun setting on the horizon behind the trees. All the other times, something happened and we were just too late to indulge in this magical moment. The braai that evening was just a lot of fun and I wish for every single Sunday being like that, welcome to my kind of paradise!

Next morning, was about the best and cutest start of a Monday, I could ever imagine in my life! We had put one of our three pregnant mares into the stables for the previous night and during early morning hours we found that mare, Donha, running up and down in her stable. So, we put her quickly in a paddock on her own where she started to give birth shortly after. All of us were just standing next to poor Donha, watching closely if everything went alright. One more amazed than the other. 45 mins after, a cute little female girl is now a new member of our family. Another 45 mins later, the foal managed to stand up and wobble around, trying to find some milk. This was quite a mission and took until the early afternoon when it got finally some milk. By now, it’s just a lovely little beauty, jumping around and growing healthy. We are all now waiting for the second foal to be born, which could come every day from today on.

My new lessons learned while helping in Cawston Wildlife Estate:

  1. Having the magnificent chance watching a foal being born, is just about the best way to start a Monday ever in life!
  2. If you feel like you ran a marathon while feeling as if you have the flu, you might have been infected with tick bite fever.
  3. Always count your pills the pharmacy hands you over, otherwise you might end up with half what you paid for.

Cheers to wandering the world and the wonders of our lives, hope to see you soon – bye bye, salut and lisale kuhle ∞

It‘s baby season

Hello, Bonjour and Salibonani from Cawston Wildlife Estate, Northern Matabeleland where I help for about 2,5 months with the horses. Every now and then we take the horses and look around in the ostrich paddock for some eggs that might have been layed but still there are none to be found. I am really questioning if it is time for the females to lay some eggs or if this will be later this year, maybe end of winter.

We do have a new patient, unfortunately it’s our precious Starlight. She is very likely to have billary, which is the African tick bite fever, as she was shivering one morning, had high temperature and pale gums. So we had to give her some injections with a special powder that is mixed with water. Of course, I was alone at that time and so I had to do the injections by myself. And what should I say, the instructions said that I had to inject at least 2-3 shots. Goodness me that was quite interesting, I have seen it so many times by now but never attempted to do it myself. Not quite sure who was shaking more the horse or me. Luckily, she survived the night but unfortunately I had to find her the next morning with two big lumps on the neck where I injected her. Now, I have to treat them as well, still a long way to go until I am a good vet…

Work starts now at 6.30am so I can finally see again the food I am preparing for the horses. I quite like that extra half an hour of sleep I get now before feeding and grooming the horses. We had some beautiful outrides during the last days and we saw herd of impala and wildebeests very close. Also some eland and tsetsebees crossed our path.

Another little calf was born, this time it’s a male and I got to see it just a couple of hours after it’s mother had given birth. Such a cutie, it could barely even stand yet. And just shortly after the calf was born, the little donkey has finally seen the light of this wonderful live. We were waiting for him quite a few weeks already. I got to see it a couple of hours after it was born during the night, it could already run around in the morning sun! Maybe one or two horse foals will be born soon, that would be fabulous. Let’s see what will happen.

As my second month has passed by, I had to go into town and renew my visa. On my way to town I got the chance to sneak a peak into a clinic close by the reserve and a physiotherapist place in town. It’s very different from what I know back in Europe, but it looked all quite clean.

My new lessons learned while helping in Cawston Wildlife Estate:

  1. Take your time when looking for ostrich eggs – you might be looking for months.
  2. If you want to see a calf or foal being born, stay up during the nights – they always seem to be born during the nighttime.
  3. IV injections need a lot of practice – or your patient might have some lumps.

Cheers to wandering the world and the wonders of our lives, hope to see you soon – bye bye, salut and lisale kuhle ∞

31 giants and the deep peace of the wild

Hello, Bonjour and Salibonani from Cawston Wildlife Estate, Northern Matabeleland where I help for about 2,5 months with the horses. During the last few days I did some splendid outrides to new places on the reserve that I haven’t been to yet. I saw so much wildlife from a horse‘s back: a herd of sables with 2 calves, 4 elands, 31 giraffes that were very close and curious, a herd of wildebeests and impalas. Every single bushride has just it’s own magical encounters and I am so very happy to be able to enjoy this journey in the heart of Zimbabwe.

I prefer the saddle to the streetcar and star-sprinkled sky to a roof, the obscure and difficult trail, leading into the unknown, to any paved highway, and the deep peace of the wild to the discontent bread by cities. . . it is enough that I am surrounded by beauty.

Everett Ruess

As some of the horses are not fully fit or rideable, I lunge them. Zhovhe for example is a gelding that is apparently not yet fully broken in, so I lunge him with a saddle on and I try to put some weight on him. We will see how it goes for the next few times.

We are still repairing the paddock, remember when I said I am happy if this will be done before end of May (see this blog post) ?.. well.. take your time here. Things are just moving on a bit slower and I definitely get used to it! 

During lunchtime, I enjoy myself at my happy place, watching kudus, impalas, bushbucks, warthogs, monkeys and even a waterbuck drinking and playing around the waterhole. I had the amazing chance to spot 19 eland antelopes during sunset hours at my happy place together with some zebras. I haven’t seen zebras at that spot since I came. They usually like to hang out at other places on the reserve. Such a wonderful experience! I really start to love this fabulous reserve with all its great opportunities and epic sunsets.

The last weekend, we hosted a group of bird hunters to shoot some guniea fowls. One morning I could join in and watch them shooting the birds and finding them with the help of plenty of dogs. This was quite an interesting process.

One of the evenings, we prepared a sundowner in the bush for the clients and I drove on my own to the place to bring some food. I wasn’t really sure where exactly the place was and I couldn’t even remember that I ever had been there. So it was definitely a fun drive, where I tried to figure out my way on my own to a place I wasn‘t sure where it is supposed to be.

A couple of times I thought I was lost, but I actually wasn’t because I found the fireplace with all the chairs already prepared after a 25min drive. This night the sunset was just magical with all the pink, orange and red colors the sun could possibly draw into the endless sky. Perfect evening for a sundowner and enjoying the peace of the bush that I had completely to myself as the clients were still too busy shooting some birds.

My new lessons learned while helping in Cawston Wildlife Estate:

  1. Giraffes are so very quiet – especially if you get very close to them, they seem more and more graceful and silent, you can barely hear them.
  2. To get things done in Africa doesn’t take days – always count on weeks or even months!
  3. 6 hunters required more than a dozen of helpers – the ratio of staff to clients still amazes me.

Cheers to wandering the world and the wonders of our lives, hope to see you soon – bye bye, salut and lisale kuhle ∞

A special cat‘s visit

Hello, Bonjour and Salibonani from Cawston Wildlife Estate, Northern Matabeleland where I help for about 2,5 months with the horses and have just safely arrived back from Hwange National Park after a great safari. Since I now saw the lions (see this blog post), I thought nothing can bother me anymore in Cawston. However, walking around on the reserve by myself during night still makes me feel uncomfortable. I hear all different strange noises and in my imagination it’s always a leopard killing impalas close to my room.

My torch starts to become my best friend as it is still dark at 6am when I start working and it already gets dark by 6pm. The torch is also my only weapon against any nocturnal friend that might cross my path during the dark hours. As artificial light is a very rare source here, one relies on the cell phone light, torch or the full moon. So you better always carry one of these items in your pockets.

By now, we are definitely heading towards winter, the leaves are changing into beautiful orange shades and the early morning hours are getting very chilly as well as the evening hours. During the day however we can still hit 30 degrees Celsius, hence I dress in many layers. 

I am fully back into my working routine in Cawston and love my 6am to 5pm job that doesn’t know any weekends. Incredible, that I just had one day off since the 3rd of April. Time flies! We still often look for the donkeys to check on them and it always turns out to be a gorgeous bushride, where we see kudus, giraffes, tsetsebees and other wild life. 

We have 2 donkey patients at the moment, one of them is the little foal called Style. Not quite sure what she has but I hope we treat her correctly with what she needs. Roiboos tea, honey, hi-tet, vitamin B shots and penstrep are our little helpers here that hopefully will work for these injuries.

We are still waiting for the donkey foal to be born, which should be happening very soon! However, a little calf was just born and it is the cutest little thing ever at the reserve right now.

And then, during my lunchtime I had finally the privilege to see a leopard laying in the tree in front of camp. Unbelievable! I spotted him from my happy place. So grateful to have had this wonderful experience. To spot these nocturnal cats is not given at all time and I wasn’t sure if I will have this fantastic opportunity here at Cawston. The more I am so happy for this chance. I have heard so many leopard callings during the nights and seen so many tracks on the sand pads, to finally have a face to these signs is just incredible! 

As one of the boreholes had some problems and we couldn’t get any water anymore, the guys had to drill a new one. I got the chance to see this process, which took about 12 hours. First, a water source needed to be found underground. A fruit or mopane tree branch is needed for that and it will be bended in a special way to see where its pointing towards. That’s where the source of water should be. After 45m of drilling, we finally found the water around 6pm. Afterwards, it took another 6 hours to get all the rods out and the pipes in. Somewhere in the middle of this process I just fell asleep. Long days. 

During this day I also got the chance to hold a rifle in my hand and shoot for the very first time in my life. The sound gave me a fright and of course, I missed the tomato that was just way too far! Maybe the next time will be better.

Last night, a scorpion just marched into my room as if it was open door to everyone. I had to intervene and make sure he is not going to try to come in again. I left the scene like as if it was an accident…

My new lessons learned while helping in Cawston Wildlife Estate:

  1. Always check the tree branches – you might be lucky enough to find a lazy leopard hanging in them during the hot hours.
  2. Water is never granted – it can be quite hard to find this needed resource.
  3. Having a rifle in your hand can be very odd – not only the feeling but also the sound when triggering can definitely be frightening.

Cheers to wandering the world and the wonders of our lives, hope to see you soon – bye bye, salut and lisale kuhle ∞

A lions roar to the rhythm of hoof beats

Hello, Bonjour and Salibonani from Hwange National Park, Northern Matabeleland where I stayed 4 nights in a proper bush camp and helped with the horses on a safari. We drove from Matobo National Park that is about 1 hour South of Bulawayo to the Northern part in the country and arrived after 6 hours in our bush camp in Hwange National Park. On our way we saw a couple of kudus, hornbills and a roan antelope that is apparently quite rare to be seen.

During the evening hours we set up the tents, prepared food for the horses, dinner for us and enjoyed ourselves around the fire while listening to hyena callings and the rumbling stomachs of elephants. An electric fence is helping to protect the horses from predators such as lions as you get all big fives in the National Park. This is definitely different to Matobo or Cawston, the two reserves I have been to in Zim. Therefore, our guide carried two guns from now on.

Right in the first night one of the cars broke down in the bush. Lucky enough there was a radio in the car to call the staff in the campsite asking for help. Unfortunately, the car couldn’t get fixed that evening as some nuts and bolts were needed to repair it. So, the car had to spent the night out in the bush until the spares could be bought at main camp of Hwange. Luckily, the car didn’t get chewed up by some hyenas during the night. 

Our bush toilet had a great view and the waxing moon gave us some light in the bush shower during nights as there was no light or any electricity except for the fence. And of course we didn’t have any phone signal in this remote place. To enjoy a hot shower we heated up the water on the fire, which I was definitely grateful for as the late evening and early morning hours got very chilly in the park. 

The next two days were all about outrides and wildlife encounters in the fabulous scenery of thick bushes and wide open plains. We have seen zebras, wildebeests, warthogs, ostriches, jackals, impalas, baboons and even a roan antelope. But no sights of lions unfortunately (or luckily it all depends on the view..). On a short drive to main camp and the stables, I even saw a herd of 9 roan antelopes, which was just marvelous!

For our last afternoon we took the car on a game drive and had a sundowner, which offered fabulous wildlife sightings. We saw elephants, giraffes, kudus, zebras, yellow hornbills and lilac-breasted roller in the marvelous afternoon sunset light, while enjoying our drinks. The following night was quite hectic, lots was going on especially hyenas were calling the whole night until 6am very close to our fence. They were circling our camp but luckily didn’t try hard enough to bother the horses or us.

The last morning started off with a stunning bushride through the pan, along some waterholes, where we saw zebras, impalas, wildebeests, jackals, baboons and some eagles controlling their territory. We trotted along the sand pad that was full of lion spoors, when we heard some bird callings. We stopped and turned around for a couple of meters and there it was: the deep growling of a cat.

We found lions! Three at least, a lioness with her teenage cubs lying in the shade of a bush, barely visible, so well blending in with the scenery. We were definitely a bit too close, the growling didn’t stop and the lioness was surely not happy of our presence, therefore we backed up to put some space between us and the predators. I surely don’t want to be bait! What a special moment to experience. I just enjoyed this fantastic experience until we heard some new bird calling and we saw one of her cubs walking down the hill towards the lioness. This was the moment when the mother jumped out of the shade of the bush and gave all of us a fright. Luckily, she stopped and walked towards her cub before laying down in the shade again. My adrenaline was high up, unsure if we should move away or stay and do nothing. We did the latter until the cub ran away to the spot it came from. The deep growling still continued until we made our way back to camp, cantered along some small path and just enjoyed the rest of this majestic ending of our safari time in Hwange National Park. Just about the most perfect ending I could wish for!

After we packed everything together and had the horses loaded, I drove back to the stables that are close by the main camp. A little surprise was waiting here for us, Lucy the wild zebra was hanging around with her horse friends. Unbelievable, she is so close with all of the horses. She stays around the stable and enjoys their presence. However, it would be important for her to stay with a zebra herd instead. Maybe one day she will be excepted by some other wild zebras. Such a perfect day for this unforgettable horse safari in this very special park. Glad to have had this splendid opportunity of helping out here in Hwange!

My new lessons learned while on safari in Hwange:

  1. Never feel too secure on your horse in Hwange NP – predators can be laying under each bush.
  2. Wild zebras can adopt interesting habits – if they are not welcomed in a herd, they might feel happy to hang around horses.
  3. You should have a radio in your car in Hwange – just to make sure, if it breaks down during late hours, you can call for help.

Cheers to wandering the world and the wonders of our lives, hope to see you soon from Cawston with some incredible visitors – bye bye, salut and lisale kuhle ∞ 

With 7 horses in the lorry

Hello, Bonjour and Salibonani from Cawston Wildlife Reserve, Northern Matabeleland where I stay for about 2,5 months and help with the horses. As every Saturday we were dipping horses and donkeys to prevent too many problems with ticks, after we found all 14 donkeys in the bush. Ticks are unfortunately a bad problem here, as there are plenty and they cause severe injuries. But some good news: one of the female donkeys is highly pregnant and we separated her from the rest with her son to stay in the ostrich paddock. We might get a little donkey foal very soon!

During my last days here, I understood much better what it means to live in a country that is economically not stable: Internet prices just almost tripled over night and there is nothing you can do about it. However, I got Ecocash now and can pay with the „Zimbabwean currency“, bonds. This helps a bit to reduce prices as the exchange rate is right now something between 4 and 5 bonds per USD. Again, this exchange rate is very prone to changes on a daily basis, it actually seems to depend on what the other person is willing to pay you.

For the very first time, a groom and I rode the 4 year old stallion, Zambezi in the lunging arena. Afterwards, we went with him into the bush and back to the stables. It was the very first time someone rode him outside the arena. He was doing well, just very lazy and slow. Therefore, we decided to put him on a lunge that I was holding in my hand while riding ahead with Starlight. I believe the 4 of us looked quite funny.

The evenings were full of great fun times, one night we had a braai and roasted a dove that one of us shot during the day while at the same time having some biology class and we learned how the heart, liver etc. looked like. Everything was really small, but the meat tasted so good! Another night, Chris and I drove to the pumps, which supplies Mpofo to change the water, watched jupiter rising in the dark, clear sky before heading to the butchery and getting some warthog and wildebeest meat ready for the delivery to Vic falls. A big truck was waiting for us at the main road to hang up the meat pieces and get ready for the drive up North.

The next day, I went to Umguza to ride another 2 horses before driving into town and do some stocking in Bulawayo for the upcoming safari in Matobo.

We left Umguza with 7 horses and myself in the lorry for a 1,5 hour drive southwards to track the white rhinos.

3 nights and 2 full riding days after we couldn’t spot any rhino, only the spoors. Nevertheless, the landscape was just gorgeous here and I enjoyed very much the 5-6 hours riding per day!

Getting up at 5am to prepare breakfast and get the horses ready becomes much more natural to me and I like grooming the horses under the dark sky full of billion little stars. We did a game drive and a short hike to Cecil Rhode’s grave during the last afternoon and here he was the big rhino drinking at a waterhole, what a beauty! So happy to have the chance to see this guy before we packed everything and drove back to my homebase Cawston.

Rhino in the afternoon enjoying some water

My new lessons learned while helping at Cawston and being on safari in Matobo:

  1. Ecocash facilitates your life – it is definitely  worth to get an account and trade USD into bonds for payments.
  2. Not all stallions are full of energy – sometimes they need special attention to walk on.
  3. It’s not so easy to spot rhinos in a rocky area – you have to carefully watch for moving rocks.

Cheers to wandering the world and the wonders of our lives, hope to see you soon after next safari days in Hwange National Park – bye bye, salut and lisale kuhle ∞