The following post was written by Woodlore’s Fundamental Instructor and Head of Operations, Dan Hume.
Following the success and popularity of our 2012 expedition, in October 2014 we will be returning to the African bush to run our Tracking in Namibia Expedition with Ray Mears once more.
We will base ourselves in the Erindi Private Game Reserve; a beautiful and unique area ten times the size of Manhattan, located in central Namibia. The reserve boasts a staggering and truly exceptional variety of African species. As just one example to give you some idea, we frequently saw black and white rhino in the same morning which, as you will probably know, is almost unheard of throughout the rest of Africa.
Please have a look at the photographs below, taken during our last trip:
This is the focus of our time spent in Africa; out on the ground, tracking in the bush. The students in the picture above have just picked up the trail of an Aardwolf that passed by the night before.
This is !hau, a san bushman and a very experienced tracker. He would sit on the bonnet of our vehicle as we bumped along through the dust and thorns and was still able to pick out the tracks of whatever animal we happened to be looking for in amongst all the others.
The picture above shows him teaching the Woodlore students one of many hand signs they have for the animals of the bush. The bushmen have countless signs, but each one is specific to a certain species and sex. They also use their whole body to emulate the movement and character of an animal. Their eye for detail is astonishing and their relationship with the creatures of the bush is fascinating.
I love this little antelope! It’s a Damara Dik-Dik and, as you can see, they are charming little animals. They have to deal with thorns all the time and are perfectly adapted for the environment; they have very long eyelashes to protect their eyes and a twitchy, mobile nose to reach the most tender shoots.
This is a typical scene during our trip. This is early in the morning before the sun is too strong, and having just travelled through the bush viewing game along the way, some of the students leave the vehicle to accompany Ray and the bushmen guides. They are trying to pick up the spoor of a female leopard which had very recently crossed the track. In some areas where the bush is particularly thick, it is necessary to carry a rifle as a precaution.
It’s amazing just how much happens in the African wilderness at night; luckily all the evidence is preserved in the dust, ready to be discovered and interpreted by the tracker.
The area we work in is truly stunning, it’s a mix of mountains, thick bush and frequent clearings of open space teeming with wild game. For those who have been on safari in East Africa, Namibia will be a different experience; the numbers of animals are there but they are more of a challenge to see. You really have to get involved and work for it to see the wildlife, and who better to accompany you than Ray Mears and the local guides.
Up in the nearby hill in this area, fascinating rock art can be seen, such as this depiction above of a gemsbok. Only a few people have seen these inscriptions as they are secreted deep within the reserve and to get there means hiking up into the hills.
Visiting the African wilds with Woodlore is a unique experience and one we hope will stay with our clients for the rest of their lives.
If you are interested in joining us in October 2014 then I invite you to look at our Tracking in Namibia page for more information. If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be delighted to help you.