“Look at me and I will tell you exactly what to do”! These words went through my mind but just didn’t seem to stick. Courtney and Jason were reciting the rules. I am partial to rules, but I was distracted by a lilac-breasted roller as it posed provocatively in a “look but can’t photograph” kind of way.

It was a hot afternoon, early spring and the temperature was coming down from 32 degrees. It’s well known that when going for a walk in the bush you get to appreciate the smaller things around you, the huge spider in its hole, the magic gwarrie bush with its multitude of uses, (including that of being a toothbrush), the spider hunting wasp and the fact that the scrub hare eats its own faeces to ensure it obtains all the nutrients thereof! What you perhaps weren’t expecting was that your guides (suitably attired in khaki shirts, socks and shorts – riffle in hand, equipped with a well-worn knowledge of the area) intended to acquaint you with a herd of buffalo.

Bush Leader, South Africa, Illona FAM 2013
Walking Safari, South Africa

Why only concentrate on the small stuff if you can sneak up on a herd of 500 strong buffalo in a muddy pond in the Kruger Park? The concept was admirable, we would track behind them, wind in our faces and follow well worn game trails.

What we weren’t expecting was that once well ensconced in the watering hole, the buffalo would be spooked by a pack of sleek painted wolves (yes in my day they were called wild dog too). It was a great pity we hadn’t made it to the suitable down-wind termite mound we were hoping to bag as a lookout before we met with the solid stare of a “dagga bull” – mud bull or old male buffalo. Suddenly the phrase rock and hard place came swiftly to mind, second only to the “do not run” advice so nonchalantly listened to at the start of the walk. What to do when you hear 500 panicked buffalo extract themselves from the mud hole and heading your way, clearing the vegetation in their midst? Move swiftly back but do not run!

Buffalo, South Africa, Illona FAM 2013
Buffalo, South Africa

Stop! Let’s see if we can look into another spider hole whilst the buffalo calm down. Them, not us of course.

Nothing quite like a walk in the African bush, just remember – look at me and I will tell you exactly what to do? More like, grab a Savanna, settle at the fireside and I will tell you about my day in the bush.

Thanks for reading

Illona Cross, Tanzania

Author: Illona Cross