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This is Zululand, not Disneyland

How a day looks like

This is Zululand, not Disneyland

This is Wildlife Act’s motto and it is true. If you are looking for a holiday, this is not it. This is an adventure, you learn so much in such a short time. Rule number one, respect the animals, if not, accidents are waiting to happen. You’ll find out a bit further what I mean by that.

Tembe Elephant Park is a sand forest, with fine whitish sand, it spans over 300 km² or 30.000 hectares with its north border at Mozambique. The rain forest hosts a wide variety of animals, a lot of them I’ll mention over the course of the journey. Just think elephants, giraffes, impalas, nyalas, kudus, rhinos, zebras, lions, leopards, African wild dogs, wildebeests, warthogs, buzzards, vultures, eagles, etc..

I think I’ve aged 10 years in 5 days.. 4-5 hours of sleep every night and being out in the reserve for an average of 10 hours will do just that to you. I hope my body will adjust in a couple of days. It’s not a matter of going to bed earlier, as that is physically impossible. Let me run you through a day’s of activities.

The alarm clock goes off at 2.30 AM.. Yes that is 2,5 hours after midnight, as we need to be in the truck by 3.30 AM. And you better make sure you have breakfast before you leave and a midmorning/noon snack. So, we’re off at 3.30 AM, 4 AM if we’re lucky, it’s still pitch dark as you can imagine, after using your flashlight to go to the toilet, remember that’s 50 meters away from your cabin and then taking turns in the bathroom, you make sure you have boiling water enough for 1 maybe 2 coffee breaks. No kettle, so waiting for the water to boil on the hob, some biscuits to go with the coffee/tea. As I really can’t eat just after waking up, I make sure I’ve got my hot lemon water with me and my vegetable smoothie for after, and a bit of fruit as midmorning. Yes, I took my smoothie maker with me, as this is my type of breakfast.


Smoothie maker Sainsbury


I’ve got my coat, bandana on and in my backpack is my 1st aid kit, my perfume for the next 4 weeks Tabard insect repellent, insect cream, sun lotion, my waterproofs, flashlight, monocular, wet wipes, anti-bacterial gel, 2 liters of water, my Tilley hat, backpack rain cover and my camera. These are mandatory items.


Backpack items


We drive into the rainforest, scan for different animals and follow their tracks, hopefully by the time the light comes up we will be close to their location and can have a sighting, the morning session ends around 10.30 AM, I scoot back to my cabin to catch up on some sleep before I have to start cooking for lunch before setting off for our afternoon/evening tracking session. At around 13.00-14.00 depending if I can get my eyes open, I resurface in the communal area and either cook or help whomever is already prepping for everyone. As I’m vegan, I only cook what I can also eat, so if the others want to add meat, they can do if they want to.

We prepare more hot water for a coffee break, get our belongings together and by 16.00 we are back on the move. The darkness sets in around 19.00, we’re trying to get a sighting before dark, most of the time on our way back to camp in pitch darkness we get an encounter with animals in the middle of the road, some are oh-so-sweet, others a bit unnerving, like suddenly a big male elephant standing in the middle of the track behind a bend and he’s all aggravated because the lights of the truck and your invasion of his space. By 20.00 we are normally back in camp. Some quick food, freshening up and hopefully by 21.30-22.00 we are in bed, absolutely exhausted, getting some rest to be up again at 2.30/3 AM.

Now you know why I don’t have time or energy to deal with my blog on a daily basis, plus I need to get through hundreds of photos I took that day.

About The Author


Hi everyone, I'm Dagmar and I'm born in Belgium, at 27 I moved to the south coast of Spain, initially just for 6 months, however 22 years later, I'm still here. I have a big passion for animal welfare. I have 3 dogs and a cat, all rescues. In September 2015, I turned vegetarian and over the course of that year, I have leant more and more towards veganism. My aim is to eat as 'clean' as possible.


  1. Gayle

    I’m loving how the smoothy maker made the pack list! Amazing insite into such a vocational journey, something many of us dream of doing but at least we get to live them through you .

    • Dagmar

      That smoothie maker was going no matter what.. Haha. Thank you for following xx


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