Back in 2000 I was lucky enough to book my first ever ” safari ” experience in South Africa. Flying in to Johannesburg OR Tambo airport and spending the first night in a local hotel I was really keen to get started the following morning.
The combi arrived at the hotel already with a few others on board and we set off on the drive out to the town of Hoedspruit where nearby was our first night stop over. This was my first visit to Moholoholo Forest Camp. Set in a Quinine forest on a small reserve of around 500 hectares in was probably then most wonderful place I had ever seen. We had a night drive and and early morning walk as well as a visit to the famous Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre.
We carried on the next day and stayed in several very nice lodges but Forest Camp would always stick in my mind. A couple of years later I was to visit Kenyas Masai Mara where again I would experience the safari and some other wildlife walks etc. It was during this trip when I learned of the existence of the Ant Lion…..until then I though the safari world revolved around the Big Five! Keen to learn more I made enquiries on my return and found that there were such things as Bush Rangers Courses. To get on one of these courses in Kenya was around £900 back then but with further research I soon found that I could get a basic course for £400 in South Africa. Guess where?? Moholoholo Forest Camp of all places. The course had been designed by former Park Ranger Brian Jones who had since founded Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre.
I did the 12 day course more as a holiday than for the qualification but once I had started to learn I wanted to know more. So I did the course again and this time took the evaluation at the end and passed. Then I did it again the following year to refresh what I had learned and to learn more….although the course structure was the same no two days in the bush are ever the same. In total I did the course some 5 times and made visits to the bush in between. I have also in the past couple of years started to concentrate on the Track and Sign element of bush work which I have to say is simply awesome!!! My instructor is Colin Patrick who is one of the top 5 trackers in Southern Africa. His knowledge and style of teaching just enthuses all on the course and his own thirst for knowledge drives the group even further. I have obtained a Level Two qualification and hope to take my Level Three later this year.
Visits too Forest Camp and Moholoholo in general haven’t been without their moments. I have been very lucky to see leopard many times whilst training and lots of encounters with buffalo elephant and lion. One particular encounter I could have done without was when I was leaving the camp after helping out over Xmas and I found a stiletto snake in my rucksack at the airport check in desk. Luckily it decided to leave my bag before we got on the plane, I think like me it didn’t want to leave.
Just a few days ago I was lucky enough to be invited by Colin Patrick who also manages one of Moholoholo’s other reserves Mountain View, to ride around the reserve with him. We have since devised a plan which will allow me to escort clients on Game Drives around Mountain View where they can have game encounters with giraffe, zebra, numerous types of buck and also rhino, from the seat of their motorcycle. There will obviously be strict controls in place to ensure the safety of clients as well as minimal stress to any of the wildlife.
Anyone who knows me would probably say that my first love has to be motorcycles. Anyone who knows me well will tell you that is only one side of my passion. South Africa, the bush, wildlife and tracking all feature very strongly up there too. I have tried to find a way to combine all those things to bring to the motorcycle world Kaapstad Motorcycle Adventure Tours.
I am leaving Forest Camp on 15th March to continue my 6000km solo road trip around SA. Sad to leave here but excited that I have new roads ahead.
Big thank you to the people here who over the years have helped me get where I am bush-wise. To Brian Jones for his vision and developing the original Ranger Course. Colin Patrick and his wife Becky for their training and to Jared and Alice Manager of Forest Camp for the last few years who have put up with me turning up and stealing all of Jareds spare time to go walking in the bush!!!
Finally to my special girls Tanya and Chloe who put up with me being away for months so that I can develop tours and do extra training to bring you the best South African motorcycle experience we can possible give you.
So here’s to tomorrow, which no matter what happens, will be another
Lekker Day in the Bush!!!