“Hey, donkey! Get off my land. I’m an ogre.” Bernard’s Shrek impression was flawless, right down to the Scottish accent. It did however come as a bit of a surprise. Not just because Bernard was a Zulu, but also because he was leading us on a rhino walk through a private game concession in the Kruger National Park at the time. He was our guide at Plains Camp and took care of the day to day running of that particular facility. It had just four large, luxurious tents, a dining tent and a lounge tent filled with Edwardian memorabilia. As the name suggests, it is situated on the edge of a plain where one can sit in the lounge, resting your glass of single malt on the arm of the chair while watching a herd of elephants trundling across the open grassland.
Bernard also leads walks into the bush, ably assisted by Ozzie – another, altogether rounder Zulu. The whole operation is called “Rhino Walking Safaris”. Each morning we’d leave camp, Bernard leading the way and Ozzie bringing up the rear, both armed with very serious looking rifles. In Bernard’s pre-walk safety instructions he explains. “I don’t shoot the animals, but if you see a lion and you run I will shoot you.” Of course he’s right – in this part of the world only food runs and being shot would be more humane than being chased down and consumed by a large feline.
And so we walked. The quieter moments were punctuated by Bernard’s Shrek impressions. “Shrek,” he explained, “is my four year old daughter’s favourite movie.” However, I had the distinct impression that it was really his. I could imagine his little girl groaning when Bernard pulled out the Shrek DVD for the umpteenth time. “Oh Jeez Dad. Please, not Shrek again! Why can’t we watch Saving Private Ryan or something?”
In any case, despite Bernard’s eccentricity we found our rhino – a female white rhino. With enormous care and professionalism Bernard and Ozzie guided us to a spot behind a large fallen tree, not ten metres from the huge animal which continued to graze contentedly, seemingly unaware of our presence. Photos taken we backed quietly away and continued our walk, Ozzie rolling his eyes and pointing to his head with a circular motion of his finger whenever Bernard burst into Shrek mode.
Later that evening we sat around a blazing fire looking for shooting stars and listening to the cackling of a clan of hyenas just beyond the firelight. It was a romantic moment. I reached over and squeezed my wife's hand. Then, from somewhere out there in the darkness - "Hey Donkey! Get off my land..........."
Rhino Walking Safaris lies in the Kruger National Park, the largest game reserve in South Africa, and offers an unrivalled wilderness and wildlife experience.
Rhino Walking Safaris With its two camps, Plains Camp and Rhino Post Safari Lodge, it provides a range of accommodation options in the midst of a spectacular landscape. Comfortable explorer-style tents and elegant, environmentally friendly suites combine home comforts with an authentic pioneer tradition and the serenity of bygone days.
With several expertly organized trails that cater for every need, Rhino Walking Safaris visitors can enjoy a tailor-made experience of the amazing wildlife and landscape of South Africa.
For more information phone 0449 689 447
or email firstname.lastname@example.org