Our last morning in Babanango began with refreshing rain. Diego seemed not to want to leave so while we had the vehicle issue looked at, the ROTM crew went for a bush walk. This lovely amble down to the little river close to camp gave us a chance to get close up with the little things – butterflies, flowers, tracks and other signs of the wild often overlooked during a vehicle safari. Once again, we were guided expertly in this wild space and all earned our “noddy badges” – a little bit of fun with the leaves from the Wild Pear tree (Dombeya rotundifolia)

All too soon it was time to say farewell to this spectacular place. As we drove out, the rain began in earnest as if to cleanse our travel canvas ready for the next part of our adventure.

We are camping tonight at Nyalazi Camp and the delay leaving Babananago means we will be setting up in the dark now. Still we decide to cut through Hluhluwe/iMfolozi to see what we can see.

The bush in the reserve is bright green and lush as we bumble along, the moody blue-grey skies following in our wake. All of a sudden an elephant in the road slows us to a stop. Within moments we are surrounded on all sides by these gentle giants grumbling and rumbling to each other, breaking branches as they tuck into a late afternoon feast. The herd is ably led by a beautiful matriarch, so very tall and steadfast. We share breath taking moments in their calm company, so grateful for their presence. And….. breathe…. Just breathe in that pure space energy that comes from being in Elephant presence….

Another hiccup along the way has us hurtling into camp well after dark. It wouldn’t be expedition life without a few hiccups! But we did leave the rain behind so a night in tents doesn’t seem bad at all. Once camp is set, we gather at the fireside to share our impressions of the adventure so far, admire the night sky and waxing moon before turning in. It’s an early start.

Rutting impala, buffalo grunts, ellies feeding, hyena woops and a nightjar serenade us to sleep. A tiny fury friend sniffs around the edge of my tent as I drift off into the peaceful rest that only comes from sleeping out in the wild.

Today we are spending time in the reserve with some young women from the surrounding communities. They are part of youth empowerment scheme through Wildlife Act, supporting females into wildlife conservation careers.

We set off on two game drive vehicles into Hluhluwe/iMfolozi to see what we could see. This was a great way to open up a shared space for us, all from different walks of life, to connect. We are united by our shared love of wildlife and wild spaces.

We certainly enjoyed great wildlife sightings and an awesome picnic lunch, but more profoundly we got to view the challenges of wildlife conservation through a different lens. Education is the key to unlocking possibility and it was wonderful to be able to spend a little time with these ladies at the beginning of their conservation journey. Our Conservation Collective continues to grow.

Back to Nyalazi Camp for an epic night round the fire with good friends, star gazing and even some chameleon spotting.

Nunu, the barefoot ranger and man behind Nyalazi Camp, joined us to share his unique perspective on life. Round that fire, under those stars he captured our attention with every story. So much to ruminate over in the coming days.

Nyalazi Camp is a very special place, a little magical even. I will certainly be back.