• Service Leadership

Wilderness Life Coach

Posted on Tue January 5, 2016.

Wilderness life coach story: On one starlit night we decided at the campfire in our comfortable tented camp to rough it and go out for a three day hike into the reserve with the whole group. Our goal was to reach the Makutswi river, camp out there for two nights and return the third day. Everything we took had to be carried in our backpacks and the whole trip was planned to be on foot. We set off the first morning in a good mood and fast pace but soon we discovered that our backpacks were heavy, the rifle’s got sweaty and the sun was beating down on us...Even in the middle of winter it is hot here during most of the day. With a couple of breaks on our first day trail and a quick encounter with a curious Black Mamba we arrived at the river where we set up camp for our first night. It was a magical place to camp; ”Mawela-wela”, the area is called meaning “going up and down” due to the many little granite and quartz hills in the area.

There were huge fig trees all around us and they had created a carpet of sweet smelling figs underneath our feet. Hippo’s were grunting not too far away from us in the deep pools. Finding enough fresh water on our trip was a challenge with the river being dry so we were happy to make use of the small hole’s elephants had dug in the river sand. This worked perfect. We used this sand-filtered water to wash ourselves, brush our teeth and boiled the water to make it drinkable. During the day we also collected edible fruits, tubers and leaves that supplemented the food we brought with. Our main concern was not to be surprised by hippos or the nearby elephant herd in the middle of the night so we set up the camp on a safe spot away from game pathways and each one of us did guard duty for an hour that night. During the cold night we had to stand our ground for 3 hyenas that came close and were investigating the strange smells and sounds we left behind in their territory. In the morning we woke up with the sunrise, hot coffee and the amazing sound of ground hornbill’s calling their low rumbling voices. What a surprise!

We did not know that they were also at this side of the reserve close to the river. Ground hornbills are rare and endangered birds and we previously only found them on one other location inside the reserve. A real treat! We packed everything together and walked off towards our planned new camp site. This camp site was even more idyllic than the previous and was situated on an island inside the Makutswi river. It was even colder there than last night but we appreciated the fire even more and enjoyed the sounds of the wilderness and the strong smell of the potato-bush during the night. The next morning we encountered a small group of white rhino who disappeared into the bush as we carefully approached them. We then walked all the way up back to our comfortable tented camp, crossed several fresh elephant- and lion tracks and arrived physically tired but completely refreshed in spirit.

On that last night at the campfire we talked about what drove us to leave our modern society behind and all our comforts to spend a couple of cold nights in the wilderness at the Makutswi river. The conclusion is that we were all seeking the same thing. Lets call it “the wilderness that is inside us all” . By being able to survive and live of the land in this pristine environment we were able to get in touch with a part of ourselves we often overlook but need. That part is our “wild side” that we need to give a place and honour to find balance and happiness in our life. Wilderness life coach I call this. It is our wild side, found through wilderness life coach, that gets our priorities straight and shows us our passions and what is really important in our life. It teaches us how to survive both in the wilderness and modern society and gives us confidence, strength and joy to follow our dreams. All our group members will be able to take the memories of this wilderness experience with and use it to their benefit in their everyday life. Let Wilderness be our coach and guide us in our life.