“Man is man. He has strong muscles. He loves his wall.” — Big Mattias
One week in, I am alive and well.
We left town on Monday morning and had a long drive to the EHRA base camp. The drive was 5 hours long. On bumpy sand roads. We got a flat tyre on the way.
Only pictures will do the base camp justice, but let me try with words: it sits in a cool valley next to a dried out river bed, in the middle of the desert in Damaraland. The middle of nowhere. There is a kitchen, dining table, toilets and showers. We sleep in a tree house – wooden decks under the stars. The moon lights up the valley walls all night, and in the morning the sun rises at 5.30am and it is breathtakingly beautiful.
We moved to the farm on Tuesday morning and set up camp. EHRA builds walls around the farm’s water supplies to stop elephants digging up the pipes. The farmers should really do this work themselves, but instead they leave their water unguarded and shoot the elephants who come on their land and cause trouble. So we do it.
Welcome to our set routine for the week.
2 people are on food duty each day – it is their job to build a fire, wake you up with tea or coffee and breakfast in the morning, prepare lunch (leftovers from dinner last night, or a sandwich), make dinner, and do all the washing up. I have my duty today, and it’s hard work. Especially without running water or lights.
6am: we are woken up with our tea. Duty team has to wake up at 5.30am! Breakfast is porridge. Usually I’m not a fan, but it’s actually alright. With lots of golden syrup or peanut butter!!
7am: we build.
10am: we have a fruit break – a South African orange has never tasted so good!
10.30: we build again.
12 noon: lunch, and a siesta while the sun is too hot. We snooze/read/write/relax.
2pm: we build some more.
5pm: we head back for the evening, have a few drinks around the fire while dinner is being cooked, eat and head to bed shortly after.
I write this as we stop for lunch in a little town, Khorixas, on our way back to base camp. There are toilets here, and a bar! I have just ordered boerewors for lunch – oh the luxury!
My first week has been tiring, but great. This place is stunning, the people are nice, the work is bearable but I’m glad it’s over (for now)..
Now for the good stuff! We relax in base camp for the weekend and head out on elephant patrol on Monday.
Cross your fingers I see lots!