Following the Game Paths

You can read through the text below, or listen to the recording.   The late morning sun had a sting to it. A break is what I needed. I turned off the game path to a splash of shade around the trunk of a camel thorn.  I had been following the path for about two hours. It was well-trodden, but there were very few tracks, or any fresh sign of life on it. Game paths are a good source of bush information, but I was beginning to lose faith in this one. More accurately, I was beginning to lose...

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More About Trees

You can listen to the voice recording, or read through the narrative below Most of us walk past trees so regularly that we hardly notice them. Out in the African savannah, they are so abundant that it can easily blunt the senses and the spirit of even the most ardent arborist. But, if we care to pay attention, trees, in life or in death, invariably make all but the most callous among us, want to gush “beautiful, pleasing, charming, soothing, elegant, impressive, sad, quaint,” and the like. In their natural environment trees are truly magnificent. On the African savannah...

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Overnight Lairs and Trees

You can either listen to the voice recording, or read the text below. Enjoy! Finding a camping spot and preparing a camp to overnight in reasonable comfort and safety is a daily challenge in the wilderness. It starts with finding a suitable spot to make camp – towards late afternoon; not too early, so that it shortens the day by too much, yet in time to have the essential things done before dark. Juggling these two is every afternoon’s bit of stress. Sometimes, one gets lucky, like this time. I had been driving through an unfriendly landscape with growth-stunted...

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Exciting Prospects

You can listen to the voice recording, or read through the texgt below:     I stopped the vehicle just behind the crest of the ancient dune’s gentle rise and climbed onto the roof with my binoculars. I was still some three hundred metres from the pan. It stretched away to a heat-blurred trace of trees on its far end, about two kilometres away. There was something liberating in gazing out over such a vast stretch of space after three days of breaking through dense Kalahari scrubland, where the view was restricted to between a few meters and some...

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The Breaks

Here is a voice recording, or you can read through the text below. Our civilisation-programmed minds seem to feel most comfortable with some regularity, or at least a reasonably predictable pattern to our day. But, when one is totally exposed to the wilderness, like on an extended foot excursion, it is mostly circumstances, sometimes led by mere curiosity, sometimes by brutal dictate, that determine the course of a day. Fixed routine is usually an illusion. I have learnt to be flexible, to abandon any plans that may have been contemplated, to a change in situation. I do tend to...

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And then, there he was…

You can listen to the voice recording, or read the text below.   We had been noticing fresh hartebeest, gemsbok and wildebeest sign since early morning, but we were in quite dense blackthorn and hookthorn country, and not expecting to actually see something. There were lion and leopard spoor too, and African ungulates, especially where they have to contend with predators (including the human kind), are extremely alert, and their senses are far more acute than ours. But then, there he was. He had already seen us when I spotted him through the blackthorn tangle – we had been...

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Making Sure

You can listen to the voice recording, or read the text below: Sometimes things go wrong. In the wilderness, a lot can. Sometimes it merely means some inconvenience, or a bit of strain, but it could be life-threatening. I have often been aware of having survived a near miss – on more than one occasion, I am sure,  been blissfully unaware of one. Yes, the wilderness can be generous and forgiving… and then, it can be merciless. Often things that go wrong, or could have, are the consequence of one’s own omissions, oversights, bad planning, negligence and the like...

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The Midday Break and Thoughts about Different Worlds

You can read the text, or listen to the voice recording below:   The midday heat slows even the hardy and the brave. Everything in the bush is driven to shelter.  There, they wait in patient torpor for the sun to spend the worst of its rage. On an extended walking safari, I tend to adopt roughly the same pattern. The midday break is a slot in the day that is entirely without care. There is no urgency to get going, like in the morning, or to prepare for the night, like in the evening. There is just the...

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The Scribe

Here is a voice narrative of the text below, if you prefer.   He sat at his desk in a clearing under a giant sausage tree. His table was self-made and somewhat rickety; heaven knows how far and from where his bush-ravaged plastic chair (and the single one for a customer) had come. A well-worn path suggested that his dwellings were a few hundred paces further towards the river, but close by was a flimsy thatched structure for when it rained during office hours. I simply had to stop to meet him. He must have been well aware of...

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Reconnoitering for the Future

Dear companions, You can listen to this voice narrative or read through the text below. I have been absent for some weeks, away on a reconnaissance. I have long wanted to form an idea of what the far western part of the Kalahari of Botswana looked like on the ground. From Google Earth imagery, and, a few times, from hazy views out of aircraft windows at cruising height, it seemed tantalisingly deserted. Not a single fine scribble that might indicate a road, nor any pin-sized dots that could mean dwellings. Just the endless savannah, flecked here and there with...

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