Follow our intrepid explorers as they complete their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award with us here in South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique.
Day 3 – muthi market / victoria street market
On day 3 of my South Africa trip. It was not a chill out day it was very much more serious. In the morning we got up, had breakfast, finished packing and off we left. We was on our way to the Muthi Market and the Victoria street Market, all of us were very nervous due to people telling us about there previous experiences and so we didn’t know what to expect or how we would feel. When we first got there we met our guide China who then gave us a brief description on what to expect and what the Victoria Street was all about. He explained that the Victoria Street Market was an indian Market and trade from all over South Africa. When walking around the Victoria Street Market I noticed that the people there were mainly selling Indian curios and spices. It was a maze of different things and i was very much interested in it. We then moved on to the Fish Market which stunk by the way, we were told that the meat we would find in there was not the typical meat you would find in england and when wandering round this market we noticed these things. There were various different fish being sold and goats head! Ergh!! Stomachs, hearts and other organs being sold from different animals (fish heads, intestines, tripe and sheep trotters). We then moved on to the Muthi Market, our guide warned all sensitive people to bare with him as some of the things we were going to experience would be very upsetting and so I knew then i was going to cry! Lol! When we first walked into there we were shocked to see so many horrible things. Live Chickens in such cruel living conditions, decomposed animals just hanging from the roofs. We went on to see an entire Monkey just hanging there dead, its facial features gave off an impression of fear it was horrible to see and affected everyone. Zebra tails and Lion skulls, things that I never expected to see and didnt want to believe actually had such an impact on how I look at things in life and about how the culture here in Africa is very different. The people who were working there seemed very wary of us students walking around and observing what they do and so some were not aknowleging us, some were and others were hiding things. When walking around the market you could tell how commited the people are about what they do and why they do it.
Although it was heartbreaking and made me very angry to see such cruel things, another reason why it affected me so much was because it was so sad to think that there way is all they know. Its there way of life, And will it ever change? No one knows. Even though the day was upsetting and full of many different emotions. I am so glad and very greatful that i was given the chance to experience the peoples way of life and can now take into account just how lucky I am, how peoples ways of life are so different and just how passionate i am about animals and the animal industry.
Great experience!!! :-)
Hayley – ND2B
There were a lot of tears last night and then again today at the airport. Cries of “I don’t want to leave”, “let me stay and play with the cheetah again!” and “when can I come back” are still ringing in my ears as I write this!
Well, of course you can come back, just contact Tony about volunteering to help with the group next year or if you’d rather, bring your family and do a very similar trip that Anton can set up for you!
The last day of the expedition started with the usual groans of apprehension. What followed was to be a great day of walking down to the border between Mozambique and South Africa.
The morning started with everyone getting up and preparing their kit bags for the day ahead. Tents were to be cleared out of all kit although some people forgot their clothes which they had left to dry on the washing line (trees around their tent) What followed was a quick final breakfast down at the dive center then bags on and off walking for 8am.
Walking the road past the market followed by some very quick haggling with the locals for the last items from them, then off again down the road and on to the school we were at all those day’s before. Followed from the local village by the usual entourage of kids all of which were coping with the heat better than the rest of us.
As time went past a giant game of leap frog started to occur between the 3 different groups all trying to reach the border first helped to while away the hours as did loads of energy sweets and the constant chatter of random topics of conversation ranging from what we had done, what was left in store for use to some very random topics which are too strange for words. This would only occur when we were not observing the sky’s for the odd bird of prey (kites and a Fish Eagles mainly but there was a snake eagle)
It was as the final kilometers drew into view the final realization that we were leaving Mozambique began to kick in memories came flooding back of what we had done in Mozambique. At the border we were greater with the wide embrace of Tony and Anton (Ha it was more of being thrown through the border bags into the van and the shout of scavengers over here). As well as congratulations from Lacey (who was, I think, taking 100 pictures a second) and Charlotte. On the other side of the border we where greeted by Meva and then driven back to Anton’s where we were treated to Meva’s famous Lasagne.
From the whale watching to climbing signal hill and the tremendous fun we had with the locals in the schools and orphanage none of us would forget what we have achieved.
Expedition Day 3
“Another s**t day in Africa” as Tony would say.
Started off early(ish), ready for the Dolphin experience boat trip for 7 o clock. Many of us were bitten to hell throughout the night especially George & Stuart. So we sat down and waited for the man to tell us what to do.
He arrived soon after and we were given a quick talk about how we would all get soaked and that if we didn’t strap ourselves adequately enough we would find ourselves floating in the water somewhere while the boat would leave us behind. You could tell at this point that the “dollar-a-day” had taken its toll. The tiredness in our faces and bodies represented lack of enthusiasm but that would soon change.
We soon followed him towards the boat (all but Glyn who had a ‘special’ coffee & Lottie who went scuba diving) and told that the girls would go to the back while ‘us’ guys would go to the front. Naively we all approached the boat prepared to jump on and set off. Thinking that the take off would be easy, the boat was released from the trailer and floated on the water. However this all changed, we all ran after the boat barely keeping up in an attempt to grab a hold of any part of the boat. When we did get into position we were battered by a wave; pulling Beth, Becky and a few others under the boat and tipping the boat vertically up. All I remember there on is looking to the left and seeing Ellie desperately trying to get on while one of the guys was pushing her up meanwhile we all would get hit by another wave. After she got on the boat I jumped on and strapped myself in.
From here on it got better. We were told that the Dolphins were just around the corner so we decided to chase them up and so headed straight for them. A few minutes later we saw a few dolphin fins popping up through the water. Approaching closer we came as close as about 5m to four bottle nose dolphins. Everything beforehand now seemed a distance memory and so we just sat in amazement that we were so close to the dolphins. We continued to follow them for about 20mins before heading off to find the whales. With Stuart guiding the skipper we found one whale further South seeing the huge creature appear up now and again from the water, occasionally shooting out a beam of water. Then finally heading up-shore northwards to see a final two more whales.
After giving us all a lollipop each we could see that we were heading for the beach, all bracing ourselves we had images of us going in at full speed with big collisions. This was because of the previous speech from both the workers and Tony who said things such as if you don’t hold on to the boat, it will stop but you won’t. However this was far from the truth, we actually landed very graciously (for a boat landing) hardly feeling anything. We all got off and you could see everyone enjoyed it from the smiling faces of everyone.
Next followed breakfast which was happily welcomed and everyone was just chilling out for the next few hours.
After everybody had recovered from the morning’s excitement, the first ever DofE beach rugby match took place. To begin with teams were Glyn, Nathan, Jess, Beth versus George, Peter, Ellie, Reagan and Glyn’s team won 5 tries to 4. Second round teams were Stuart, Charlotte, Peter, Beth versus Glyn, Nathan, Ellie and Reagan. The final score was Glyn’s team 3 tries to 2.
Everybody met up at bar 360 at 3pm which gave people a chance to visit the local tourist craft market which was the perfect chance to practice and enhance our haggling skills. George would go around with a similar speech for all merchants saying something along the lines of if you don’t give us a good price he would take all his customers to someone else. This went on for roughly an hour before most of us gave in and bought trousers, accessories or some other form of African style clothing.
Next we headed off to the 360 bar. Walking the same path as we did to the market we arrived having to walk up a steep hill to get to the top where the bar was situated. We all got our orders of food which was delicious and sat watching the scenery, before deciding to head back at around 5pm.
Nathan & Glyn
Woke up at six o clock, reluctant to leave the awesome comfy-ness of the Kosi Bay beds but knowing that we had less than an hour before we would be on the road to Mozambique. We sleep-walked our way through breakfast and all too soon our big bags were on our backs and we were off. It took just under an hour to get to the border, and once we were across, everything changed. It was amazing how different the land looked, and although we were still only a few feet from South Africa, we could tell immediately that we were in a different country!
We started off down the only road out from the border post (much sandier than the roads in South Africa!) and suddenly the sun seemed a lot hotter than before! I am pretty sure that the only reason I made it to lunch time was the fact that Nathan offered round the Rowntrees Randoms every time we stopped! Finally we stopped to eat our sandwiches and had just started to relax when we realized we were sat on a nest of GIANT RED ANTS! But by this point we were so hot and tired that we couldn’t be bothered to move! After another couple of hours walking we finally made it to the Blue Bull Bar where Anton, Tony, Lacey and Charlotte were waiting, looking very un-sweaty compared to us! Once all of the groups had arrived we walked down to the campsite and after a FREEZING COLD shower, collapsed into our tents.
On expedition day two, everyone woke up aching! Today we were going to be living off 10 Rand each, in an attempt to understand how hard life can be for so many people in this part of the world. So we began the day by walking up to the market and buying three loaves of Pao bread per person, this was also our first haggling-experience in Mozambique and we were managed to get the price of our bread down from 2.50 to 2 Rand by combining with one of the other groups and buying 33 loaves of bread all at once! With the basics of our diet for the day sorted we started our walk towards the local primary school, where we would be spending a couple of hours playing with the kids.
Becky and I were quite nervous as we had been asked to plan a few games but had no idea what to expect, we needn’t have worried though – it was amazing! As we arrived and began unloading parachutes and plastic balls from the back of the Land Cruiser, the children came pouring out of the school and swarmed us! We started off playing with a couple of parachutes, bouncing the balls on top and letting the kids run underneath, then after a little while we decided to bring out the footballs, Becky and I went to fetch a couple and as soon as the kids saw them the place descended into CHAOS! Impromptu games of football and catch started up all over the place and we had to think of a quick way to calm things down a bit! It turned out that the answer was… the Hokey-Cokey! We managed to get all of the children into a huge circle and they picked up the actions pretty fast, they especially loved holding hands and running into the centre screaming! By the time we had to leave, an hour and a half later, the children were still full of energy, but we were all shattered! We took a lot of pictures and gave a lot of high-fives and thumbs-ups and then we were on our way to Ponta D’Oura, where we would buy the rest of our food for the day at the market.
I don’t think that what we did for the rest of the way to Ponta D’Oura can be described as walking, it was definitely more like trudging! The sun seemed a lot hotter than the day before and the sand a lot harder to walk on, plus we were tired and stiff and hungry. But we made it eventually and, with some haggling, managed to spend the final 20 Rand our group had left on 5 tomatoes, 7 potatoes, 3 carrots, and onion and a pepper to make a stew with for dinner. The journey back to camp wasn’t nearly as difficult as we just walked along the beach until we saw the bar. Two of the groups decided to team up for dinner as we had a lot of the same ingredients so we shoved them all into a pot of water and hoped for the best! It all worked out brilliantly, despite one moment of panic when Beth thought she had ruined everyone’s food by getting a little too excited with the salt and spices!
Living on only 10 Rand for a day was more difficult than I had expected, but it really opened up my eyes to the hardships that so many people have to face everyday; if it was such a struggle for us to survive 24 hours on 10 Rand, what must it be like for people who have only ever known a life with that little? By the time we went to bed I am pretty sure I was the most tired I have EVER been!
Although it had it’s ups and downs, today was still amazing, and I still agree that since being in Africa, each day seems better than the one before, however knackered you are by the end of it!
Kosi Bay – Historic Fish Traps and Beach
After breakfast at our Kosi Bay accommodation we all walked down to the historic fish traps where we were introduced to Elmon a local fisherman. Elmon took us into the water and gave us a tour of the traps and showed us how they worked. Unfortunately the tide was too high in the morning to catch fish so we went to the beach for an hour or so.
At the beach we split into three groups – sunbathers, paddlers and ball gamers.
When we returned to the fish traps in the afternoon, Elmon took a few of us back out to the fish traps and Beth, Glyn, Alicia, Lottie, Becky and Adam went into the fish traps to try and spear fish. Three fish were caught, one each by Glyn, Lottie (stabbing it multiple times and getting covered in fish guts/blood) and Adam. The fish were carried to shore and given to Elmon to take home to his family.
Glyn told to spear fish.
Glyn spear fish.
Day 5 – Wilderness Trail
Got up quite early and got ready for the over night wilderness trail. Not going to lie, sounded pretty scary, walking through the bush and then camping over night outside with people taking shifts to keep watch, but it was so cool!!!!! So the walk to the camp was quite long… we got a few breaks and a nice long lunch break (while Lottie went to the loo about 5 times!) but our guide, Joe, walked at quite a pace and seemed to have constant energy! But we got to camp early, and saw some hippos in the water near our camp, which was amazing! There were about 5 of them just there, staring at us. It was cool until we realized that we would be camping next to them and they could walk through our camp if they wanted, as could crocs, as could hyenas, as could ANY animal that wanted to, hence the night watch! Without even a sit down, we went straight into Croemalena clearing, which is an alien crop that kills some of the animals if they eat it. We were shown how to use the machetes and then we got to it. Anneka and me enjoyed it slightly too much I think! We proper went for it and got LOADS cleared away! We were pretty happy with it! Then we were finished for the day, I was really hot disgusting from the walk and the clearing… I hadn’t planned to shower, so I didn’t bring a towel or anything, but I went for an open air shower! It was AMAZINGG!!! Lots of hot water and a nice fire outside to keep my clothes warm. So good! Then we sat around the camp fire for a bit while it got dark and then…. it was BBQ time!!!! We had Nyala steaks, Wildebeest sausages, potato salad, beetroot salad and really yummy bread – an AWSOME bbq!! The we toasted marshmallows on the fire, which I’ve never done before! Smelt and tasted soooo good! Then people started going to bed and the night watch started for the first group. Nothing much came through the camp, but our night log became quite inventive, with a family of hippos scaring Beth near the toilet and me, Glyn and Alicia fighting off an alien invasion. The whole thing was a great experience. When else are we going to get the chance to sleep outside in the African bush?!!
Today started with one of tommy’s infamous wake up calls, violently shaking the tent yelling “Good morning my sleeping beauties” giving us all the shock of our lives before we fell into fits of giggles, even first thing in the morning this trip is exciting.
We expected today to be one of the quieter ones, due to a long boring drive to Swaziland, but as we’re quickly learning Africa is never what you expect. After only half an hours drive we came across something even more shocking than tommy’s wake up calls, a lone female lion crossing the road only meters ahead of us. It was an amazing sight, she was so calm and graceful, meanwhile we were bouncing around the minibus in excitement, we didn’t even have chance to calm down again before we drove past four giraffes grazing at the side of the road. I think what made all these encounters so amazing was their unpredictability, to think we were expecting a boring drive!
However i don’t think any encounter no matter how unpredictable or amazing will compare to the elephant interaction we experienced today. Just seeing these majestic animals walking towards us out of the bush made us gasp, they were incredible, I’ve seen elephants before but never noticed how calm and gentle these giants are.
The presentation was genuinely interesting, did you know after 50 years an elephant must sleep standing up or the pressure of their weight will give them a heart attack? Nope neither did i. Feeding the elephants was indescribable. While it was awe inspiring and enlightening, it was also funny and felt like being licked by a giant jack russell.
The drive again was another mini safari, seeing baboons, cheetah, impala, zebra and even more giraffes.
So, before I get onto the poor tent building and our terrible dancing, it’s the next morning and sitting in front of the watering hole is a picture of perfection… Back to yesterday, after a long drive, which, in pretty much any other country, would have been boring and tedious was yet another journey of excitement, beautiful scenery and lots of wildlife kept us all entertained. We arrived at our destination buoyant from the drive, only to realise that we had to put tents up. What started out as a mess of poles ended up as a mess of a tent, but at least sleep-able, well for someone else, my tent was as sturdy as a brick house (thanks to Camping King Stuart). Tents up, Anton decided nose-breaking American football in the dark was a good idea, with Lottie letting the Lions know exactly where we were (screaming from a football flying at her face) poor light eventually called time on the play, perfect timing for dinner. Dinner was a good old old English Shepards pie with an African twist, yum…
With dinner demolished and beer in hand, we were treated (that word would seem to be overused, but seriously every turn is a surprise and the next thing is the new best experience of my life) with Swazi dancers, with lots of noise and lots of flare the dancers showed the rest of us how to do it and in return we showed them how not to, and on that bombshell, bedtime listening to the lion calls!
After fueling ourselves with hot-dogs and chips, we thought that we were ready for Tommy’s bush walk. What to expect? – Nobody knew (Well, beside Charlotte and Anneka). It started with a talk. The do or die. The hand gestures of the guide and the only way to survive in ‘The Bush’. Then and only then, we were ready. It started with the introduction of the different type of trees. First, the confused Cactus tree that we have been warned to steer clear of, despite its weird attraction. Then it was onto the tree that is used to get your own back on fisherman, noisy neighbours and Tommy’s favourite – the mother-in-law. Lets just say, all of these scenarios end with a funeral. The beginning of the walk showed us some more vegetation along with several birds, such as the Hoopoe and the Guinea Fowl. My favourite however was the Fire Finch – South Africa’s answer to a robin. After this, it only got better. As somebody who didn’t even know I was coming to Africa until 2 months ago, everything was a bonus, truly. The first animal we stumbled upon were the 2 zebras in the distance. I couldn’t believe how close we got. The cameras started clicking and we were all pretty taken aback, which only intensified by the sight of another zebra with its baby. It was an incredible sight. After some more animals, including wildebeasts and some prancing deer-like animals that I’ve only seen in the stage show of Lion King, we stopped for a break. Morbid maybe but we learnt so much about rhino hunting. Tommy boy taught us loads about how corrupt the poaching is here and what it is doing to our future generations – we CAN save the big 5 (The 5 animals that are the most dangerous when injured (queue extra brownie points for memory)). As we began our journey back to camp we witnessed the most spectacular sight I could have never even imagined. GIRAFFES. Supposedly in the south, these creatures indeed blessed us with their presence and we saw the most nosey creatures known to man. The best for Beth was yet to come… The sun was setting behind the journey and we couldn’t have asked for anything more. But I was wrong. So seriously mistaken. We had earlier been told that the stretch was all male after a tragedy a few weeks earlier but the suprise was in how quickly they had adapted to keeping company with one another. I think I should just say, the affectionate one was having plenty of fun with the little one. I was stunned. The frisky mount was just too much for my little eyes to bare. And on that note, I had one last glance and we head back to base. I can honestly say – as it is the best policy – that today has been a phenomenal experience. Nature has treated us so finely and I am one lucky beggar for being part of it.
Today we set out for our first adventure which involved lots of blood, guts and more gore! Yeah thats right, we DISSECTED A WARTHOG!! At first, everyone seemed a little squeamish at the thought of exploring the insides of a beast; Lottie and Beth were the brave souls that took on the task of cutting the animal and preparing it to be hung. The juicy stuff began after the skinning of the animal where we encountered gallons of blood gushing down engulfing the black sheet where Jess, Beth and a couple of other troopers took apart the remaining skin, which hung loosely off the meat and bare carcass. We were stunned, truly amazed at what we`d just seen – Tony had told us about it but seeing it in the flesh really made it real. Tommy cut the animal open and all its guts spilled out filling the whole mat.
Each person wanted to explore a different organ of the warthog and off we went to our different sections. I had the job of blowing the lungs of the warthog – something everyone else seemed happy to let me do and although it tasted like a fleshy straw, its an experience I will NEVER forget.
Overall the whole experience was super intense!! We loved every minute of it especially poking the eyeballs – this was a biology lesson we would never forget.
Ellie (written by Ruphina Ochanda)
Feeling good being back in SA. It’s pitch black and on the way to Anton’s place,Canterbury Gold is looking forward to an amazing three weeks with hopefully a lot of sunshine along the way.