Graduation


Every good thing must have an end, that is the sad truth. Four weeks have passed like a dream. May be because we were so busy for many hours each of the days, weeks and the whole month, all have gone by and it is time to say goodby to the friends made here.

Field trips

Some of the activities were repetitions of activities we have already done. We spent half a day in Leadwood reserve, some of it as photographers in a hide overlooking a watering hole. This requires lots of patience since there are no guaranteed arrivals. We did get to see wildebeests and a warthogs drinking. In the rest of our time in the reserve we cleared ‘river thorn’s which is a native thorn that climbs on trees, it grows wildly and needs to be trimmed periodically or it will take over the entire area.

A second trips was a 24 hours stay in Klaseire, this was my second visit but to most of the group it was the third (since I had to give one up for my Swaziland trip). On this trip we saw giraffes drinking from a water hole, an elephant rolling in the mud and spraying dust on his body afterwards, a hyena, a honey badger, very active hippopotamus and many more animals.

Photography

This was a summary week for our work. We had critique sessions, some by the team and some by every one in Dumela. We submitted lots of pictures we took of the species the research team here studies (giraffes, rhinos, leopards, lions, elephants, wild dogs). The researchers use the pictures to identify the individual animals and record there whereabouts at the day and time of the shooting.

Our final contribution was 30 of our best photos as candidates for the African Impact high quality pictures database. These will be judged in a month by the next team of volunteer photographers, as we judged the previous month team. The pictures are a source of income for AI as they are sold for use by companies in their various publications. The pictures are also used for free by non profit educational organizations.

You do not get to graduate any course without passing the final exams, the photography course is not different. We had two challenges (games) to assess our ability as photographers and the nature education we were given in abundance. One was to complete 6 different photography briefs in an hour, edit them for another hour have a critique of the results. The second was a bush scavenger hunt, a nature quiz we had to complete while traversing the track around Dumela. Answering the questions was a lot of fun, and we needed to submit photographical evidence of completing all tasks.

Anti poaching pro-track

All of us went to visit the local anti poaching police unit training camp. The fighters are going through basic and routine training that includes an army style obstacle course. The participants had to jump into water, climb a wall, cross an area on ropes bridge, skip from pole to pole, climb on high pole and rope, crawl under a net and in a water flooded tunnel and many more). I volunteered to send my 50 years old pictures of me doing an obstacle course and was assigned as a photographer, much easier task.

Microlight

Weather this weekend is gorgeous, sunny, not too warm (remember it is mid-winter here) and calm., almost no wind at all. This weather is finally the good news I waited for in the first three weekends and I finally got to fly in a microlight. A microlight a small, very small, two seater airplane that can carry the pilot and one passenger. You seat is a tight chair, much like a go-cart, perspex wind shield in front of you. A suspiciously small engine above the head, connected to the wings which are made of cloth. A bit alarming at first but when it takes off you forget all the worries. The engine is noisy but the pilot and passenger can talk to each other using a headset and a mic. The microlight max speed is about 90 KMH, it does not take long and after a short climb we fly over the Blyde canyon area, We see the mountains, the dam and other sights we saw so far from the ground. The view resembles the view from the panorama route observation points.

After zigzagging the canyon area we flew back to Hoedspruit area and over a nearby game reserve. Mostly looking at the landscape but I got to see elephants walking from a nice viewing angle. Bottom line - microlight - mega flight.

Preliminary Summary

I had an EXCELLENT!!! Vacation, beginning with a week in Zimbabwe I enjoyed with Yud, my son-in-law and the month long volunteering in South Africa. Wonderfull experience, wonderful photography course, wonderful friends from all over the world.

5 weeks away from home and only now, when the end is near, I feel anxious to go home. Over 10,000 pictures taken. Just imagine the amount of time I will have to invest in reviewing and editing them at home. I think I have not even seen about half of them.

Farewell

On Saturday night we will party in Bush Pub, a local pub next to Klaseire, and will say goodby to all. Most of us leave on Sunday morning and I will wake up at six o'clock to send them off. My flight leaves at 2:45PM from the Hoedspruit local airport so I get to be the last one leaving.

That’s it for now. I’ll be in Israel on Tuesday morning, long and exhausting way.

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