15 December 2016 – This was no ordinary day but a day that many of us at Sabi Sabi will treasure in our hearts forever.
I have heard of many legends and fables about the famous Sabi Sabi boundary walk – a 47km trek along the outlines of pure wilderness and unspoilt beauty. It was surreal to think that I too shall participate in such an esteemed event. What’s more important is that I experienced this with my Sabi Sabi team mates – my friends: Jesse, Kyle, Garrett, Conrad, Nadia, Laurie, Charlotte, Maryke, Bianca, Brett and Henry.
We met early, just before dawn, with all our gear ready and packed. Our spirits were high and our feet were ready as we were set to take on the much-awaited challenge that lay ahead of us. Brett (Safari Manager of Sabi Sabi) made it clear that today was not about racing to the finish line. This day is about teamwork and support. We are all going to try our absolute best and pull each other through one step at a time. No one can fail.
With this in mind, we eagerly set off on our epic mission – together.
The first half of the walk was drama free with Laurie, Kyle and Jesse sprinting to Shaw’s Gate and climbing trees after having completed the southern section of the reserve. Conrad’s eyes started glimmering with hope as Eve’s vehicle was parked on the horizon with the sight of glorious food! Everyone rushed to the sandwiches like vultures on a carcass and before you knew it, there was nothing left, not even a single crumb for a sparrow. Charlotte and I happily gulped down a Coke as if it was the last thing we’d ever drink. Spirits running high, we were off to tackle the north…
We were lucky enough to be cheered on by elephants throughout the walk. Thirteen different encounters to be exact! These majestic animals, together with a vast medley of birds, definitely distracted us from the pain which started to get more intense as time went by.
The last half of the walk was not as simple. Aches and pains slowly started to creep in. The conversations began to shorten as the sun started to peek through the patchy sky. This was the time to stick together. It was as if every person had their turn in motivating the rest and each time I would feel uplifted to take another step forward. Nadia’s head was always held high, making sure everyone is moving forward whilst keeping a comfortable pace up front. Somehow, all our unique walking styles were pulling through… one step at a time.
The last stretch was not a breeze to say the least (pun intended). The comforting carpet of clouds had been burnt away by the scorching afternoon sun. I felt my leg muscles pull tight all at once, ready to give in. Others had issues with their feet, not daring to take a look at what’s happening beneath their socks. Sore ankles were also a problem for some. No one had it easy. The backpacks and rifles felt as if they were gaining excessive weight by the minute. Many of us fantasized of ripping our shoes off to get the feeling of a cool breeze between our toes. Some dreamt of lying down with their feet up and being relieved of the force of gravity which had been taking its toll more than ever. A cold and clear pool or an ice bucket appealed to all of us. I imagined sipping on an ice-cold beer. These thoughts so easily distracted us from the heat which was getting more intense as time went by.
I remember lifting my heavy head and seeing the power lines. Pole-in-the-road was in sight! At first it seemed to be a mirage. An optical illusion perhaps created by our hopeful minds and desperate bodies. Thankfully this was not the case, the pleasing sight of the tower of Bush Lodge quickly appeared and we knew… we knew we had made it. Those last few steps were magical and disastrous at the same time. All that mattered is that we did it! We took the last couple of slow and steady steps in to Bush Lodge – together.
We see this not only as an incredible achievement, but as a step forward in the beginning of what will be Sabi Sabi’s best safari team ever. Cheers to an exciting and inspiring 2017!