The excitement all started when we – a group of journalists across North West and Botswana, climbed onto game range vehicle for our first game drive. As we reached the gates of Pilanesberg Game Reserve, the ranger, Solomzi Radebe, explained the do’s and don’ts of game viewing from the back of an open safari vehicle. Only later, would we learn that the guidelines were to enhance our game viewing experience and to ensured our safety. This came as, one hour into the drive, a rather gigantic 50 year old male elephant approached our vehicle, as though to attack us. However, Radebe’s 18 years experience in the wild life industry was evident, when he calmly ordered the elephant to make a turn by chanting “buyela emuva” which is Zulu for “go back’. Only a sigh of relief was heard as we learned how important it was to listen to the ranger. Radebe explained that only he was able to make the elephant listen to him. “They have a strong sense of smell and hearing, so over the years they have become accustomed to my scent and voice, hence it moved away” he said.
During the drive, for the first time live at close range, we got to see elephants, giraffes, antelopes, wild pigs, impalas, rhinos and zebras. But nothing could have prepared us for what lied ahead as we were returning home. A pride of six lions barricaded the road leading back. As scared as it was to have a lion stand only five metres from an open vehicle, it was again Radebe who assured us that as long as we took pictures quietly from the car, the pride would eventually make way for us. Twenty minutes after the picture taking and the scary amusement, it was as though the lions had heard Radebe as they moved to make way for our vehicle.
Upon our exit, we were taken to a nearby bed and breakfast – Kopano BnB to dine as we listened to the sweet sounds of marimba playing in the background, before we could retire to our tents to rest. Again, the wilderness was to be found at our respective places of rest as we had impalas and zebras surrounding our tents. Not dangerous species, as we were able to walk freely near them. It was a peaceful sleep.
Day one of the media tour around Manyane, was completed. Most of us agree that the game drive was an experience and a half. #BuyelaEmuva
Leave a comment if you want to see the #BuyelaEmuva chant.