Tuesday 26th July 2016
“After a windy and cold night on the platform in the basecamp, we stood up at 06.00 and started heating up water in the kettle for tea and coffee. After 15min, everybody got their hot coffee or tea near his/her sleeping bag. 06:30 am the porridge was ready and everybody wanted to get a bowl full of it for breakfast. During preparing breakfast, I found a dead something on the cutting board, maybe it was a …..Scorpion. We put it in a transparent cup to show it to everyone. After breakfast, we were packing our light packing for the “build week” and started to load our bedrolls on the vehicles. In the trailer we loaded 22 bags of cement, the 4 wheelbarrows, shovels and buckets. Before we left, we spotted a Go-away bird (kwevoel *). We arrived 1, 5 hour later at our campsite near the build site and started setting up the camp.
We went to the same place the group before us had been two weeks before. At 11h00, the setting up of the camp was already done, and we had an early lunch, leftovers from Monday and sandwiches. Finally at 12h30 we went to the build site and started with some rock –and sand runs until Big Mattias came back with the water trailer. At this point we could start with mixing cement. Until 16h30 we made a good advance and we the duty team, had to go back for cooking dinner. In the beginning everything went well. As we were missing the chutney (required in the recipe), we had to start improvising. We mixed mango, orange juice, orange jam, soy sauce, peri-peri, brown sugar and curry powder. For the perfect chutney, only vinegar was missing. Nobody remarked any difference and was happy with our stuffed chicken and mashed potatoes.”
Source: Essential Illustrated Wildlife Guide to South Africa Sunbird, *Voels von Suid Africa, SASOL
Wednesday 27th July 2016
“This morning we had the first signs of an elephant. Last night a bull walked around the edge of the camp, broke a few branches and left some tracks that I saw this morning. Mattias was apparently shouting to gently chase the elephant, but most of us slept through it (somehow). When we reached the build site the water tank/trailer had tipped. The bull had gone for a drink. It really does demonstrate why we are doing the project, as the elephants are persistent and strong.
We have been using the same site for rock runs (just before the camp site) but today we tried another site, only a few hundred metres from the build site. It was a pleasant change but was nowhere near as good as our normal site.
For dinner we made lamb tagine, which was technically simple but had unexpected problems. Someone forgot to pack the rice so instead we had pap, which tastes like a mix between couscous and mash. According to Hamish it wasn’t the best pap, it felt quite heavy. The tagine was delicious though, if I do say so myself. ”
Thursday, 28th July 2016
“Oh we just had a nice chat while waiting for dinner-so I postponed writing the blog. But now: There’s nothing like preparing coffee and porridge on a rather cold winter morning with a dedicated and enthusiastic co-chef like Nathan.
After that, rock-runs, and sand-runs and lots of cement mixing as usual, that was just an ordinary, satisfying day at the building site until…….Well, until we ran out of water and cement. Because it took a couple of hours to replenish, those of us new in the crew had the chance to hike to the White Lady Rock painting with “Jurgen” our guide. This took us about 2 hours and we were happy to be hiking at this time of the day, since the sun had already disappeared behind the mountain ridge and it was nice and shady.
We returned to the entrance of about 5pm and walked back to our camp right away, since the tools had already been packed by the others. Thus, we had a bit of real “tourist experience”.
By the way, sadly, Tiko, our beloved camp princess, had left with three visiting ex-volunteers for Windhoek earlier that day. We miss her boundless good spirit and her laughter! Safe trip Tiko!
Back at the camp, lovely dinner, generous drinks and jolly company around the fire!”
Nathan (Sui) and Urte(Ger)
29th July, Friday, 2016
“It was our last day at the build site, so we got up at the normal time and headed to the site. Some stunning rocks were caught such as Elanor. Everyone was working on full cylinders and we managed to finish a decent part of the wall by the time we had to leave. It was a tough but enjoyable week and we all have a lot to be proud of. The toughest part however was saying good bye to Marylin, the rock that stole my heart.
We headed back to camp to have lunch and pack up. This is when we were lucky enough to see a bull elephant walk near to camp. After all the excitement went down as we left for base camp.
Sadly a baby elephant had recently passed away, so a detour was taken to find the baby and confirm this. This involved travelling through school to ask some questions. This was where a woman pointed at younger Matheus and made a threatening gesture. The group contest is that it was a spurned lover. Matheus denied all claims.
Sadly it was the baby elephant that passed away.
We headed back to camp. I overdosed on peri-peri and almost died. I saw light at the end of the tunnel. We played Frisbee in the evening which caused pain and hardship was felt.”
Daniel Altman, 2016
“It was the start of our day off which we would spend in Uis. First of all we had to get the fire started for breakfast. Jorieke and I had trouble getting the fire going. For a second we were worried we wouldn’t succeed. It was our first day without porridge, instead we had toast that day.
We then packed up and got ready to go to Uis. Here we all rejoiced at the chance to have Wi-Fi. We all called and spoke to our family and friends. We also enjoyed a nice lunch at the rest camp ( a lovely break from sandwiches). There was a pool at the rest camp but only two people were brave enough to go for a swim. The rest of us enjoyed the sun and food.
The night Dan helped me with dinner as Jorieke spent an extra night in Uis. We made springbok leg with gem squash and potatoes. Dan was in charge of piercing and seasoning the potatoes, but this led to many injuries as Dan cannot handle a fork apparently. Despite the mess Dan and I made the dinner turned out to be delicious. Hamish also made apple crumble for dessert which was a great end to the night.
There was a lot of washing up left to do that night. I can’t imagine the next duty team were too pleased.”
P.S. Apologies for the messy writing. It was written in the car.
31st July, Sunday 2016
“This morning we could stay until 6h45 in our warm sleeping bags. Luckily, we had no porridge today, but instead scrambled eggs, bacon and toast. After that different start into the day we started to clean up all our black boxes and the tent. Suddenly while chilling in the base camp and on the tree house 6 elephants walked by. They came from the river bed next to camp and wanted to drink from the elephant water point. It was the Small Ugab herd!
One of our group member (Sidonie), who was standing in the elephant path was very surprised, because there was no sound coming from the herd. Such a big animal, but so silent!!!
Nevertheless, she reacted quite well: stood calm and walked back to camp.
After their short drinking break they continued their way down the river bed. Such an amazing visit!!! After lunch in the afternoon we slept, played Frisbee, hiked to a spring and packed our backpacks for the patrol week.
For dinner we had braai and cheese macaroni. Chris joined us and prepared us for the following week on patrol.
After we played some games around the camp fire, we went to bed. We are looking forward to see much more elephants!!!”
1st August, Monday 2016
“We started this morning at main camp, me (Menno) and Renate were on duty. Because Renate is not able to write the journal in English, I’m going to write our contribution. After tea, coffee and porridge we were quick to pack all our stuff, cause today was our first day of patrol!!! Not long after we left the main camp we ran into elephants. The group we met was G6. First we checked out the baby elephant that died and that we saw earlier. The other elephants were in the area and showed interest in the dead baby. It was beautiful to see but also sad that the group had lost the little one. We traveled along the river and visited the White Lady Lodge, where we went to the toilet and bought some beer. Close to the lodge in the wetlands we found the old Medusa. She was “dead” in the middle of the road. We were told it was just a thing for her to die in such a spot. She laid peacefully on the road. There was no sign of struggle. She was just tired and laid down. Even though she had laid there a while, she was still mostly intact. The lack of big birds of prey in the area showed itself. We looked for lions, also later that day. But they hadn’t smelled Medusa yet. We drove further on to follow some fresh lion tracks. We found some fresh tracks…but no lions. We lunched under a big tree. Chris brought us to a beautiful place higher from the river bed by the rocks. Renate and I cooked Thai beef curry. I must say it was a success🙂
“This was the best day ever! But let’s start from the beginning! In the morning it was very cold and all our sleeping bags were wet, because of the dew and the coast, which wasn’t so far away. The mountains were covered by clouds the whole morning and even during the day the sun wasn’t as hot as yesterday. Unfortunately it was quite windy from time to time. Apparently the weather in the desert can change very fast.
We didn’t drive too long until we found fresh elephant tracks. Before we ran into them, we decided to stop for making a “pinkel pause”. The “girls’ restrooms”, behind a bush. Chris pointed out, were like 50 meters away from our vehicles close to the rocks. Before four of us started to pass over, Chris told us to climb rocks, if an elephant would come. We were already a bit afraid, but nevertheless we started to hide ourselves behind the bushes. I was already ready, when I suddenly realized the silence around me only surrupted by the shouting “climb the rocks, climb the rocks” by the rest of our group, who were already again inside the vehicle. Suddenly we the four girls behind the bush (without pants), saw three elephants running through our both vehicles directly forward us. We were just staring, because we heard too late the shouting of our group. One girl of us (so she told us later) even wanted to finish her pee. Finally we understood and climbed (more or less high) the rocks, watching how fast an elephant is able to run. We were so afraid, but luckily the elephants just crossed the road and all of a sudden they were gone and we were safe. Wow! The next time we will think twice before going to the toilet. The whole group was laughing at us and we are still laughing with them.
“After having lunch, we took a very nice way through an immerse field of grass. It was so lovely and exciting! Finally we found the elephants again and observed them for quite a long time. The elephant baby was so lovely. It played and tried to do a handstand obviously. It was amazing! It was so cute. At the end of the day, after having a very good pasta carbonara (made by Nathan and me), Chris showed us the stars, when we were sitting around the fire. It was such a nice day! Thanks EHRA!”