… were three of the best months of my life!
I’m Femke Bles and I’m a Dutch biology student. I completed FGASA Level 1 and a biology internship at Campfire from June to September 2018. And goodness gracious, was it amazing! I learned so much, saw so many animals, did adventurous things I never thought I would or could and had a blast with my fellow students. Below are some excerpts from the diary I kept during my time at Campfire:
5th of June, 2018
…but the best of all, when we came back, there was an elephant at Laetitia’s house! My first approach with a wild elephant! At first he was a bit nervous and raised his head to make himself look bigger and more intimidating. But after Laetitia spoke to him, the big bull relaxed. I was just astounded by the respectful interaction between the two of them! It was incredible! They truly are wonderful animals.
13th of July, 2018
On our way up the mountain we saw the transformation from the alien eucalyptus forest to the original indigenous forest. All the old man’s beard hanging from the trees created an air of mystery. Then at an altitude of 1 800m the vegetation changed to fynbos/renosterveld! Our first stop gave us an incredible view of the Blyde Dam. It really touched me; so, so beautiful! I couldn’t get enough of the fresh scent of the mountain herbs and bushes. The second stop was on top of Mariepskop Peak where we saw dassies (rock hyraxes)! We climbed down a cliff face and lay down on a rock jutting over the valley and peered down into the drop. How amazing to touch some of the oldest exposed rock in the world whilst enjoying this awesome view? And as if that was not enough, two Cape Vultures soared by on the wind…
3rd of August, 2018
At 7:00am we went to Klaserie Private Nature Reserve for our animal tracks & signs assessment. On our way we had an amazing hyena sighting. At the beginning of the assessment I was quite nervous, but it went well! Afterwards our assessor James drove us to see something truly magical and unexpected: wild dogs with 10 cubs! Tracks & signs was definitely one of my favourite parts of the course. Everyone in the group passed and we had a big celebration at Sleepers, the best local bar and restaurant.
30th of August, 2018
I saw the cutest thing today! A newborn giraffe! The baby was still walking all wobbly and still had the umbilical cord attached. It’s unbelievable what I’ve seen here in the past few months! Never a dull moment!
It was very hard to choose parts out of my diary but these were some of my favourite special days. Every single day had highlights and little presents from Mother Nature!
I also did a research internship on the aquaponics system at Campfire. I really enjoyed the opportunity to learn about sustainability and finding real-life environmental solutions for real-life situations. There are multiple options for conservation, sustainability and ecology internships at Campfire. I would recommend anyone to go to Campfire for an educational experience that draws together so many different fields and ideas. You will never think about the environment in the same way after that. Simply mind-blowing!