Two days after provincial borders opened we hit the road to our favourite place in the world, the Umbabat Nature Reserve.
We have been dreaming of returning to the bush since our last visit and have been discussing where to next everyday of Lockdown. So this trip was a long time coming and we were so excited to go!
So what’s it like visiting the Bushveld in the middle of a pandemic?
The camps have all made amazing efforts to adapt to the challenging circumstances! They have added hand sanitiser bottles outside each hide to ensure your hands are clean before opening or closing the doors, there are signs everywhere reminding all to wear masks and the staff are try hard to keep their masks on properly when engaging with guests and with each other. It was also great to see how visitors keep their masks on while on the game vehicles too.
But moving away from the constant news reports about COVID-19 infections, the increasing death toll and the constant reminders of the fragility of mankind was a breath of fresh air! It was wonderful to see how the natural world just carries on without a care.
We were able to enjoy amazing sightings of huge elephant herds, slowly crushing fallen, dry Mopani leaves beneath their feet and with one swift push felling trees along their path. A particularly special experience was while sitting in a hide enjoying our afternoon sundowners, a herd of more than forty elephant came down to drink from the waterhole walking a few metres away from us, while we sat behind nothing but a few wooden slats. The bird life continues to astonish us and seeing the Lilac-Breasted Rollers is always a good signal to end off the winter months.
Overall 2020 has been a unique year in many ways but this sighting was the most unique experience of our lives and really made 2020 a ‘one of a kind’ year. The news of this sighting was met with much excitement and gasps of “No Ways!”, “You’re lying!”, “That’s incredible!”. For any bush-loving ones our sighting’s report is always met with the same responses and it feels as unreal now while I type this as it did the night it happened.
This animal is sometimes called the ghost of the bushveld, it is nocturnal and is able to very suddenly hide should it feel threatened by digging at record-breaking speeds of 0,6 metres in 15 seconds. This super fast digging helps them reach their favourite meal of ants and termites as well. If you haven’t guessed it yet – we saw an Aardvark for the first time. It was dark, cameras weren’t ready and no evidence was captured but it was a sighting that is embedded in our hearts and minds for eternity.
The bushveld is always a place of mystery, excitement and adventure. We will return again in October as the love for the open skies, the fresh air and the natural encounters draws us back time and again.
There is a quote that always resonates with us but it is specifically true after this trip – “The man I envy the most is the one who has not been to Africa for he has so much to look forward to”
We can’t wait for our next adventure and don’t forget to share your own adventures on social media!