Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fund Raising Trek

Hi all,
I'm back from my week of trekking in the desert, 123km in total. It was a lot of fun, we had quite a cast of characters with us. The trekkers consisted of two South Africans, one American, one Zimbabwean and 6 English. I represented the Irish contingent this year. We had a South African guy named Jaco leading us. Dave who was last year's guide brought up the rear. Johannes, Rachel, Doreen and Gerson all took care of our campsites, cooking and backpack-carrying etc. Thankfully the weather wasn't as hot as last year although it was still around 30C each day. I decided not to take photographs within the first hour of walking. It was the same route as last year and unless you're there, photos cannot do it justice. This year I wanted to just take it all in and enjoy the smells, heat, breeze and sights. It was quite liberating not to worry about taking photos and there were plenty of other snappers around me. Also, since I'll probably post their photos on the website, I'll make sure to share the ones I'm in :)

Rather than writing about what we did each day I've decided to just point out the highlights.

- The night before the trek, a few of us stayed at base camp before meeting the whole group the next day. It was really nice being in base camp (the tree house) without any volunteers and I had an entire tree platform to myself. I woke up to see a whole troop of baboons (about 30) pass right by me across a rock face at 6.30am, just as the sun was coming up. They were fighting, mating and playing. It was really cool to watch them so closely. They're LOUD though. Usually we only hear them at night so it was a great way to wake up after my first night under the stars since April.

- Lynne and Jane are trekkers from last year and it was really wonderful to see them again. We all felt like only a few weeks had past since we last saw one another, as opposed to a whole year.

- One night, Johannes decided to spice up the campsite by having a giraffe poo spitting contest. Yes you read correctly, poo! It actually looks like a walnut and its pretty hard unless you really squish it. So we all popped one in our mouths to see who could spit it furthest. I was crap (pardon the pun) but not the worst. I'll have to brush up on my poo spitting skills before I enter another contest!

Some of the animals and creatures we saw were:
- hartebeest
- oryx (really close by, he couldn't smell us since we were downwind and he was curious)
- horned adder snake
- a giraffe family, 2 mothers and babies
- springbok
- zebra
- ostrich
- scorpions
- a few fresh black rhino tracks but no sign of him sadly, we all really wanted to see one

- In the middle of the trek we climbed Doras Crater which is a 140 million year old crater. This was really tough last year, it was so hot, some people ran out of water - just not enjoyable all round. It was completely different this year. Not as hot, extra water stops and we made it to the highest point this year by climbing a different route. At the top we could see our lunch camp so we radioed Johannes and co who were setting it up and told them to get out the binoculars, we wanted to wave to them. Then we all pulled down our shorts and mooned. It was a first moon for a few of us, not a bad one to start off with!

- For the second year running, I had no blisters - wahoo! Some people rally suffered from them sadly. I hope it didn't ruin it for them.

All in all a great trek and not as overwhelming this year. It was really nice being familiar with the route. I felt I was able to take more of it in.

So thanks all again to those who donated. I'll find out what the total amount raised was and let you know. Your contributions will help EHRA to continue helping local communities live in harmony with the elephants, hopefully increasing tourism and jobs for them, as well as saving a few elephants.

I'm off to the desert again tomorrow (Monday) for 2 weeks, spending a week helping to build a drinking hole and then following week patrolling for elephants.

Hope everyone is well!