Climbing a kopje, tribal history and building a survival shelter

I woke up at 6.30 am  to head out for a bush walk. We went over the bridge right by Gazebo and straight up to the top of a kopje. The climbing was quite tough and we saw a baboon spider and a golden orb spider which makes some of the toughest material in the world to construct its web.

The views from the top of the kopje were spectacular and we could see gazebo, but I hadn’t taken my camera for photos. At the top we all jumped up, to take a photo of us all in the air, but there was a big drop behind so no one wanted to fall down there. Then John told us about the tribe that used to live on the kopje, which was called Fort Rock. There was a giant urn there as big as 6ft tall and they used to collect water in it, although I have no idea how. There were other assorted pots there too made from clay and lime. One of the rangers broke up some of a pot for us all to keep. It was lovely to be given a piece of this history, but I couldn’t help thinking that if they did this for everyone soon there wouldn’t be any pots left.

The top of Fort Rock. Image from:

Before we had started the climb we had a safety briefing, seeing as we were essentially going for a walk around a reserve full of wild animals. The rules included things such as don’t run. In reply to the rules one of the rangers kept saying ‘Ok’ and ‘thank you’ in baby voices, because he is basically a child in a rangers body.

We then climbed down from the top and returned back to Gazebo. The bridge is just made from twigs and I am just waiting for someone to fall through it. After breakfast we all headed out in our teams. The road team to the roads, one group off to ride the elephants, and my group went to go build a survival shelter. We started by clearing the grass in an area in the bush, then build up the sides with thorny bushes to keep the lions out. I helped to clear the floor so it would be flat and comfortable to sleep on. At night the plan is to pull in a branch to the entrance to keep the animals out.

African thatched roof. Image from:

For lunch we headed back to Gazebo. I was probably the most sweaty I had been yet, but the work was very satisfying. We had sausage and cheese baps and then went to help the thatchers who were thatching the backpackers hut. It was really good and I didn’t feel like I had hayfever too much. The girls cut the tops of bundles of thatching grass so they were all equal length using a parang. The guys were on the roof and helped to lay down and smooth the bundles into place. It was fun, but I got ants all over me at one point so I dropped the hay.

One of the gappers arrived back at about 5:45 pm. His visa had run out, so he had returned to the Uk and then flown back again. There was a bit of shock today because Swali the elephant had tried to drown his groom. The guy had got hit in the head by his trunk and tusk. We also saw some vervet monkeys this morning on the way to the survival shelter. The steal things from the kitchen apparently so one of the rangers made monkey like noises and threw stones at them. Dinner was chicken stir fry and rice and then we headed to bed.


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