Early Sunday morning a large group of us got up early to see if they could spot a leopard on the bait. Two minutes in leopards were sighted by Dr Dre and we all locked on to them through the binoculars (except Max who was busy dreaming about Leopards), an amazing moment as it was the first leopard to be seen in person on the property! We returned for breakfast and then headed out on a Gemsbok study, finding absolutely no Gemsbok whatsoever, but getting a good look at the mountain biking trail Red had built. It started raining and after finding some shelter under a tree we spotted two Horned Adders, however the Londoners showed their true colours and retreated to hide in the cab of the pickup. In the afternoon some of us then set up Klipspringer and Rock Hyrax hair traps. As Jonty and Minty mountain goated down the scree slope they spotted a snake to which Jonty let out a massive scream and ran back to camp.
Monday didn’t start off any more successful, as we set off on a hike to the Orange River later than we had planned, so it warmed up very quickly as we walked down waterfalls and through the dried river bed. A couple of us struggled in the heat of the day; with Katie struggling with a migraine, the heat messing with my asthma and causing a shortage of water, but eventually, we all arrived at the river and went swimming to cool off. Max, Jonty and Minty went off to try to catch a fish for dinner, but despite a valiant effort the size of monstrous fish caused the line to snap twice, so they didn’t catch anything that night. The next day our island came under attack from a cow called Margaret Kum Kum, which ended in an uneasy truce.
The next day the fishing team went off fishing one part of the river close to camp, while Red and Dre went off fishing a lot further from camp and the rest of us spent the day relaxing by the river, swimming, reading and messing around. Just after we had eaten lunch, Red and Dre came back with a 15lb small-mouthed yellow fish that Red caught and a 12lb catfish that Dre had caught. We fried them up and ate the small-mouthed yellow fish for lunch, and then the catfish as a snack before dinner. After dinner, Max came back to camp with a 8lb catfish after a gigantic struggle, which we fried up and ate too with lamb chops.
The next morning, we woke up at half five to pack up our tents and start hiking back along the river before the day got too warm. At one of our breaks, Max realized that he left Katie’s bandanna at one of the other stopping places, so ran back to get it while the rest of us, bar Dre who waited for him, carried on for a bit. After a while we found a lizard we named Rocco who was very sluggish due to the cold morning. By the time Hamish had warmed him up, Dre and Max had caught up, so we set him under a warm rock and headed down another dried river bed and up a giant waterfall, back towards base camp. At the giant waterfall Beth took the song don’t go chasing waterfalls a bit too literally. When we got back to camp, Katie and I made a Borewors curry with mash potatoes and rice for dinner.
We were up early again on Thursday as we packed up our beds and our bags, throwing them in the truck and setting off for Fish River Canyon at six. Five hours of music and sleeping later, we arrived at the lodge and after the Red and Dr Dre checked us in, everyone changed and headed to the outdoor hot spring pool for relay swimming races, a relay running race and chicken fights. When it was cooler, Hamish, Max, Hayden and Will Gray tried unsuccessfully to create a four-man tower in the pool, while everyone else sunbathed, bar Will Mackey who went rouge. They continued their attempt later on, this time with Welles and Jonty’s help, while others sunbathed and got massages. After realizing that they couldn’t make a four-man tower for longer than three seconds, they moved on to see who could do the best backflip and summersaults, some of which failed miserably. Max and Will Gray went on a drinks run and came back with a shopping trolley full of unidentified liquids. The following day we continued to chill (with attached pool antics) and finished a relaxed day with a meal at the restaurant.
Saturday was another early start as we woke up at half five, packed up the tents and beds and headed to Fish River Canyon. We arrived on time and spent twenty minutes at the first observation point taking in the breath taking views of the second biggest canyon in the world, before heading to the second observation point. After Dre parked up, we all piled out of the car and ate breakfast at the observation point. We headed back to Karasburg to get the weekly shop before all the shops shut for one. The rest of us arrived in Karasburg, and made a mad dash for the shops that were closing in 1 minute. After Hamish jumped out of the car to stop the butchers from closing, Katie, Minty, Will Gray, Hayden and Jonty jumped out of the car and into Spar and started shopping like mad for what we usually got. Max, Red and I headed back to the butchers to get Hamish and collect the meat. Once, we’d stored the meat away out of the sun, we headed back to Spar and Red went in to check that the rest of them had picked up the right food, while Hamish, Max and I guarded the car. Twenty minutes later, everyone came out with three trollies full of groceries between them that we had to fit into the car with us.
Another eventful week, this time without any injuries. Hopefully it will stay the same this week, with a snake expert coming down to teach us about the native reptiles.