• Jasmine Hussain

Second week in South Africa ♥

Day 7

Started off my Monday morning with a run! After breakfast, we loaded bricks and rocks onto the truck for road maintenance and during the activity, we stopped for a little break and just watched the lions who were on the other side of the fence - I'm talking about just a 2m gap between you and the lion, and yeah we were just chilling like that (how amazing!!) 

In the afternoon, we headed for a Blesbok game count! I think we came to a total of 126! 

Views :')))) 

After heading back to the reserve and having dinner, we watched Captain America in the common area and had an early night! Unfortunately for me, I was in for the worst night of sleep ever that night because I was freezing and some people were really inconsiderate when it came to keeping their voices down

Day 8

Too tired for a morning run due to the bad sleep but turns out most of the volunteers had bad sleep as well so that made things a little better cos we were all in the same boat! We removed some alien vegetation that morning and went for road maintenance after. This particular road maintenance was so tiring but I replenished my energy after with my fav carbs ever - POTATOES ! After lunch, everyone had a meeting to discuss and book activities for the coming weekend and I decided to go to Jeffrey's Bay! Thankfully I managed to convince Noé to come along too as he was afraid that he wouldn't make it in time to Port Elizabeth from Jeffrey's Bay to catch his overnight bus to Cape Town

After the scrumptious lunch and an hour to relax, we headed to the Elephant sanctuary in the afternoon!! These 4 female elephants were fated for culling as there were too many of them but thankfully Kwantu bought them over and kept them in an elephant sanctuary. They were too used to human interaction and therefore would not survive in the wild and this was why they were not just released into the Kwantu reserve and placed in a separate location where they would be well taken care of! 

Fun fact - Elephants can turn on and off their pain receptors !! I found this out after asking how elephants could possibly eat cacti without feeling any pain. They seemed like they were enjoying eating them so much and you could hear loud crunching noises!

After that unforgettable trip to the elephant sanctuary, we drove back to the reserve for dinner and we had a night drive at 8pm! On our night drive we saw an Elephant, Springhares (South African kangaroos basically but much smaller), Wildebeast and Impala :) My favorite bit was when we got out of the truck, lay on the grass and just stargazed for a few short minutes. Though it was for just a short time as safety is always first, it was so surreal and peaceful and just magical :') I've never seen so many stars in my life! Living in a city, you just don't get to witness this - it was truly magical

Day 9

Had energy for a morning run this time and we went for a hike this morning!!

Pictures really don't do it justice 

The hike was pretty flat at first but then got really steep for about 20 mins before we reached the peak of the hill but boy was it worth it! If I recall correctly, it took us 2 hours of hiking to get to the top and we sat at the top of a hill overlooking other massive hills whilst eating our packed lunch and the view was just spectacular!!

I had such a lovely conversation with Noé about family, religion and relationships and he then took his little Buddha statue that he carries around with him everywhere! Had to take a pic of it with the view behind ☺

The descent was rather steep as well and there were so many loose rocks which made it quite scary because it was so easy to slip! I slipped a few times but never on my butt - my top tip for descending steep slopes with loose tiny rocks is to move as quickly as you can because I feel the more you put your weight down, the easier it is to slip!

We arrived back to the reserve at around 3:30pm and watched Now You See Me and the lovely staff prepared popcorn for everyone which was so sweet!! For the rest of the evening it was really relaxed which was perfect after the hike :) 

Day 10

EPIC MORNING - saw a pack of lions feeding on a zebra! Unfortunately, we didn't manage to catch the lions making a kill (another group of volunteers did when they went on their dawn drive earlier ☹) but watching the lions feeding was still so incredible!

The cub could practically fit in the zebra's stomach! It was pregnant as well and the group earlier saw the female lions rip the baby out of its stomach - how grim. Felt mixed emotions but that's how survival in the wild is like

After that epic scene, we did weed control around the fences. If the weeds grew too tall, it wouldn't allow for the electric current to run through the fences and hence the animals could possibly escape. We did that till lunch and we then went for rhino monitoring in the afternoon. Our group didn't get a clear view of the rhinos, we basically just saw their butts but it still counts!! But the other jeep got mock charged at by the rhino and when that happened the engine actually didn't start and so everyone was panicking internally but trying to look cool on the outside hahah but thankfully nothing happened and they managed to get the engine to start soon after! How cool though, and they got so up close to the rhinos! 

We went straight for a sunset drive after the rhino monitoring - in the duration of your volunteering, the rangers would arrange for everyone to experience at least one night, sunset and dawn drive ☺

Saw 6 giraffes on the sunset drive!

Picked this jaw bone up as I was marking my territory hahaha and I brought it back to Singapore!

The rest of the evening was relaxed (as all evenings are) and most of us were pretty tired - I didn't expect sitting in a bumpy jeep for 3 hours to be that tiring!

Day 11

Went for a dawn drive at 6:30am and saw hippos!! Didn't manage to get a good photo though. Despite not seeing much during the dawn drive, the views and the atmosphere was enough to make it so enjoyable and also emotional because for some of us and myself included, it was the last game drive that we were going to have :( 

Saw a zebra and a still born :'(((((((((((((

After the drive and breakfast, I went back to my bunk and started packing everything because I would be heading to PE straight from Jeffrey's Bay to leave South Africa. Said goodbye to all the rangers ☹ but thankfully most people were headed to Jeffreys Bay so I still had 2 days more with them!

The accommodation that Kwantu had booked for us was amazing!! Jeffreys Bay is a known to be one of the most famous locations worldwide for surfing and we were so lucky to have gotten rooms at Island Vide backpackers because the annual World Surf League was ongoing that same weekend! This accommodation was right by the beach and so you could just walk out from your room onto the beach! 

Of course with JBay being a surfing hotspot, Island Vibe rented out wetsuits and surf boards and since I had surfed in Bali just 2 weeks ago, I thought I'd give it a go - and how could you not right? It's JBay!! So Noé, Bailey and I decided to go for it and headed down to the beach looking all cool in our wet suits and carrying our boards which I struggled to carry for that 150m stretch to get to the safe surf spot. 

Mistakes made: 1. I had never used a hard board to surf before because duh I'm not a pro 

2. The minute I entered the water, I knew I couldn't handle the waves because they were just too strong 

but of course I ignored these signs and tried anyway! 

So when a particular wave came, I just told myself to cruise the wave whilst lying on the board, I didn't even want to bother standing up but unfortunately my board got flipped over and I got pulled under the current and my first thought was: Please board, do not hit my head, and it didn't thankfully but now the string that attaches the board to your ankle started to go round my head and my second thought was: Please strap, do not go round my neck and kill me, and it didn't! and please bear in mind that this all happened within 30 seconds of being underwater which felt like a bloody long time, but what did happen was that the strap caught my lip and went round my head really tight! I surfaced a few seconds after and I was just in shock and quickly got my board and walked to the shore. Honestly one of the scariest experiences of my life!!! I was so traumatized and I didn't bother going back into the water despite having 45 mins left of my 1hr that I rented the board for. Bailey was pretty terrified of the waves as well so he accompanied me on the shore while Noé bravely tackled the waves. And literally 2 mins after that incident, my lip went full on swollen and bruised and I looked like an idiot for the next 2 days ☹ I have pictures in my phone but I shall not disclose them because I really looked terrible - the bruising was still there for 2 days after the swelling went down so that equates to 4 days of looking like an idiot!! 

Deceivingly happy pictures taken after that near-death experience

Went to a Mexican place for dinner that night and had a load of fun partying after that! Played beer pong and pool and the music was so great! Yes you don't need to drink to have fun but honestly, drinking makes it even more fun :))) 

Day 12 

The next morning, Noè and I were up early and so we decided to head to the beach before everyone else got up. It was so peaceful laying on the soft sand listening to the waves crash against the shore

Noé, Ètienne, Alessia and I then decided to go out for brunch (the rest were really hungover and had breakfast at the hostel) and we stumbled across this really hipster looking cafe whose name I cannot recall and turns out, they offered plenty of vegan options!! I was soooo over the moon! 

I had a chai latte and a vanilla, chai and date smoothie bowl - yummmm 👅

We then walked to the part of the beach where the World Surf League was being held and watched the competition for 2 hours! This was my first time watching a surf competition and it was hella coool!! The surfers were so amazing and they were doing all sorts of tricks whilst riding the super tubes !

The weather was perfect as well! 

After the competition, Jeff, a hilariously crazy driver (in a good way) from Kwantu came to pick the volunteers up to bring us to Port Elizabeth and the sad part came because we dropped Noé off at the bus station on the way to the lodge in PE and so it was time to say goodbye ☹☹☹ He's the person I miss the most from this experience because he's such a lovely person and we connected so well and had memorable conversations about anything and everything!! 

After a sad farewell and reaching Albeit lodge, a group of us headed to the Boardwalk for dinner and we ended up watching Spiderman in 3D! Tickets were so much cheaper than they are in Singapore and it was cool watching a movie in a foreign country :) We took an uber back to the lodge after the movie and I said bye to everyone else that night as I was leaving early the next morning and then came another wave of sadness saying goodbye to Ètienne, Jasper and Lisa who I will also miss dearly :'((((( 

Day 13

I got up at 6:50am, had complimentary breakfast at the lodge and got on a taxi to the airport! That marks the end of my amazing 2 weeks at Kwantu. It was honestly the best 2 weeks of my entire life!! The meaningful friendships made, the lovely rangers, seeing the majestic animals in the wild whilst helping the reserve at the same time - all these experiences tied together made the perfect concoction !! I am truly so grateful to have been able to have this magical experience and I am definitely going back to Africa to experience life in a game reserve in the future :')) 

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