My love for wildlife and nature

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I have not spent much time thinking about my love for wildlife and nature, and where it came from until I decided to write this blog post for Never-ending Nature. When I think back about my love for nature and wildlife, it was instilled by my parents at a young age. I was never really the little girl that captured bugs and kept them as pets. Also, I never rescued and nurtured little birds back to health, but this was probably rather my mother sparing me the potential heartache.

Early adventures

There is a period in my life that I still remember like yesterday. In 1997 (I was only eight and my sister five), my dad bought a single cab 4×4 and our family set off on a two-week adventure to Botswana, a country bordering South Africa. My mom, my dad, and a friend took up the front cab, while my sister and I enjoyed the ride in the back, on our mattresses on top of a wooden plank laid on top of the crates where all our supplies were stored. 

Nobody knew we were there until we crawled out through the little window splitting the main cab from the canopy. The car was packed so tight, we could not even enter or exit through the back of the canopy. I would definitely encourage anyone with a love for wildlife and nature to go on a trip like this, to discover the beauty of Southern Africa.

This Botswana trip was a grand adventure over two weeks. We drove far and wide and saw some of the most beautiful sightings. We flew into the Okavango Delta in a small plane and stayed on an island. The trip included a ride in a mokoro (a hollowed-out wooden boat) and the guide made necklaces for my sister and me from the pink water lilies growing on the water. We also went searching for lions on foot, but unfortunately (perhaps it was a blessing in disguise), did not find them.

My favourite sound on this trip became the call of the African fish eagle.  Elsewhere, while on a sunset cruise on the Chobe River, we witnessed elephants crossing the river, on their hind legs, with only the tips of their trunks sticking out like one would use snorkels for breathing while underwater.

Wildlife in the Okavango Delta.  Photo by Miriam Eh on Unsplash.
Wildlife in the Okavango Delta. Photo by Miriam Eh on Unsplash.

I was young and I did not have a camera, but I was armed with a little notebook and pencil. In this book, I wrote down the daily highlights. Perhaps this was a sign of my future career in writing. My notes talk about the spectacular sunsets, and it is true. Until today, I have not seen as many beautiful sunsets as experienced in Botswana. Do you agree? Where have you seen the most beautiful sunsets? Africa is beautiful, and everyone should visit this piece of paradise. I think this trip definitely contributed to my love for wildlife and nature.

There were also other adventures. One of them is the time at Timbavati where we had an incident with lions roaring right behind our backs. And, the time our 4×4 got wrecked after getting stuck in a puddle in Mozambique. I once visited the highest pub in Africa on top of Sani Pass in Lesotho. Unfortunately, I was extremely young and had a coffee or hot chocolate. It was freezing outside, so my cup of coffee was probably better than an ice-cold rum and coke. I definitely need to return to that pub one day, and finally, have that drink. I would love to discover the beauty of Lesotho as an adult. Roadtrip plans in the near future maybe?

Then there was the time we went on a 4×4 track somewhere in the Free State Province. Southern Africa has plenty of off-road tracks. I do not remember much about the location. I do however remember the crazy drop as we went up the mountain. Peering out of the window and seeing some wheels off the ground probably did not help. We got out of the car and walked the long road up the mountain. The prospects of my dad so close to the edge were too scary. My dad clearly had the skills, because he reached the top. At least we got some exercise while walking up the mountain.

Old houses in the ghost-town of Kolmanskop.
Old houses in the ghost-town of Kolmanskop in the Namib desert. Photo by Chris Stenger on Unsplash

There was also a Namibian adventure two years after the Botswana adventure. We visited the ghost town of Kolmanskop and learned all about the history. We stayed in small coastal towns and camped in beautiful places. In Saussosvlei we climbed the highest dune and struggled to the top. At the end of this trip, we returned home with a sandblasted front windscreen, and sand everywhere. It was so enriching. Despite being so young, I remember so much of the trip. I really need to make a plan to visit that beautiful country again. The distances are vast, but the experiences and memories will last a lifetime.

There were also various hiking adventures when I was young. As a result of this, I want to embark on more hiking adventures lately.  My parents did not take us on grand overseas holidays or returned to the same destination year on year. I am happy about that. I got to experience a wide variety of holiday destinations. All of them brought me so much closer to Southern Africa’s wildlife and nature.  

I never gave it much thought, but experiences like this guided my career much later on in life. It led me to where I am today. A choice between a night in the bush, and a fancy hotel in the city my decision would be easy. The bush would definitely win! Time in nature is invigorating.

Where to from here?

Conservation matters. That is why I started the blog – to share with you the beauty of Southern Africa and its natural spots. It does not stop there. Most of these destinations conduct conservation work. It does not always get the attention deserved. Why? Because travel/tourism is much more glamorous and brings in the money. Yet, without it, conservation projects can’t be conducted. A lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes. Recently there has been a movement towards sustainable tourism and volunteer tourism, and there is a lot of room for growth in the industry.

Some destinations offer conservation projects to guests while on holiday. This is ideal for those who really love nature and want to make a difference, really want to get involved. Numerous projects advertise themselves as ideal volunteer holidays, but not all of these projects are ethical. Many involve animal interactions, and this is an industry that often exploits wildlife. It is important to do your homework before making a choice. I do not support animal interactions at all. There are a few rare instances where wildlife is not exploited, but unfortunately most do. This is a story for another day though.

I have a passion for the conservation of wildlife and nature and want to share this love with you! Join me on this journey where I document this and share it with you. Follow me on my journey as a conservation journalist.

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