Expedition 2009 - Shamwari
We set off on Sunday 19th July 2009 slightly apprehensive but above all excited that after two years of hard work fundraising the day had finally arrived. We flew from Heathrow to Johannesburg where we got a connecting flight to Port Elizabeth. Worldwide Experience met us at Port Elizabeth and we embarked on the hour long coach journey to Shamwari. Our tiredness suddenly lifted as we experienced our first taste of South Africa. As we left Port Elizabeth behind and entered rural South Africa our excitement intensified as we spotted monkeys, flamingos and traditional Africans along the sides of the roads. Finally we arrived at Shamwari, where we were greeted by our field guide TJ and transferred us to the camp that would be our home for the next two weeks. At our camp we met 20 year old Sevu who was training as a field guide and camp manager through the Wilderness Foundation, a charity that provides scholarships for under privileged youngsters from AIDS backgrounds. Having freshened up we were then taken back to the main accommodation for a traditional African Brai (BBQ). Here our adventures began!
The first day was spent on a game drive getting to know the environment we would be working in. Our first experience of African game was when we stopped off for petrol and saw hippos sunbathing on the river bank next to the garage! That first day we saw many species of animals including giraffe, elephant, warthog, Vervet monkeys and many antelope species. Over the next two weeks we carried out many conservation activities. The main activities we carried out were; Reed clearing, alien acacia clearing, alien species fishing, preparing Nyala ID kits, species identification/count, rhino ID, visiting and working at the wildlife hospital, visiting the Born Free Foundation, carrying out the night shift to care for an orphaned elephant and an orphaned zebra, early morning game drives, working in the local township community at an AIDS orphanage and many more. However, the highlight of the expedition was assisting the veterinary team and conservation/ecology team to create a new pride of lions.
Each evening it got very dark and cold (below 0oC) at about 5pm so our evenings were spent having dinner before retiring to camp. At camp Sevu taught us to build proper campfires, told us facts about the African species we had seen and he also taught us how to play African card games. Most evenings we headed to bed between 9 and 10pm ready for our early starts.
Expedition South Africa was a true insight into wildlife conservation and we really felt that we made a difference.