Josh and I have just returned from our 19 day challenge in the Big 5 wilderness area of Manyoni Game Reserve. We were completely overwhelmed by the support and so excited to have raised a total of R750 000 for the Zululand Conservation Trust at a time where they’re hamstrung by Covid 19 and the resultant halt of the travel industry. Thank you to all of you who so kindly supported Wild Again For 19, we appreciate it more than I can describe.
Since returning we’ve been asked a variety of questions about our re-integration and some of the things we learnt from the experience. So here goes:
1.“One foot in front of the other” can take you FAR: The phrase that quickly emerged for Josh and me was “one foot in front of the other”. We decided to take very little food supplies with us in order to live in solidarity and raise awareness for those on the breadline. Walking just under 400km in 19 days made us realise how important it was not to look too far ahead of ourselves (especially with the mountainous terrain of Manyoni Game Reserve). However by putting literally just one foot in front of the other took us to the most remarkable places. We would stand atop a mountain and look in every direction, knowing that we had walked there and there and there. It’s a motto that I find myself repeating quietly to myself now if I ever feel overwhelmed by what needs to be done. Imagine if we can all join together in the name of conservation and put one foot in front of the other!
2. You need so little to get by and be happy: Don’t get me wrong, I am lavishing in hot showers, having a warm comfortable bed and hearty meals, but I realised out there just how little one needs to be content. Taking one backpack each, Josh and I could only carry the bare essentials but regardless we experienced laughter, connection and a tuning to our environment that nothing fancy could have added to. For all the ladies out there – you do not need all the beauty products you think you do!!
3. The why is crucial: We experienced some very difficult and harsh conditions out there including 0 degree temperatures as well as unseasonal rain. It rained more during our time out there than it has in a June for the last 13 years. During those times it was our why that kept us going. A deep belief in what you’re doing gives you the passion, drive and resolve to stay in it when the times get the toughest.
4. How valuable your energy is: I’ve never been one to enjoy hunger (no shock there) but during this 19 days the hunger was nothing compared to the frustration that came from not having enough energy to get your body to do what your mind wants. It taught me just how quickly the body responds to food and how powerful the mind is. When mind and body work together, a lot can be done on very little.
5. Small things make a massive difference: Through being so exposed to the elements and becoming seriously in tune with nature, it became obvious how important the small things in life are and what a massive difference it is they make in our lives. The warmth of the fire in the evening would help to take the edge off the cold and provide us with company when on watch. A cup of tea would keep our hunger at bay for a while and an extra layer of clothing would vastly improve our mood. The ground sheet that we strung up to try protect us from the rain was our most valued piece of equipment. It certainly has reminded us what we take for granted daily but also how nature is the ultimate provider and ultimately gives us all the raw materials we need to survive.
6. My brother is a rock star: I really couldn’t have done it without him. He is one of the most cool, calm and collected people I know and a lot of fun. We shared moments that I know many siblings will never have the opportunity to and for that I am incredibly grateful.
This is a poem that Josh wrote out there about our time. I’ll leave this with you. Much love, Amy
MANYONI by Josh Attenborough
As I scribble this down,
Scorpio crawls across the black canvas stretched above me,
Bats squeak in search of the next meal,
The fire licks at a charred log that finally collapses
revealing a glowing arrangement beneath,
never to be repeated again.
A leopard’s jagged cough rips through the night.
Today we walk in a place so undisturbed by man and animals,
the trees have been left to converse on the wind,
Gangsters of the undergrowth squabble as we pass through the riverine forest,
Light dances around us as we meander through the long grass beneath hundreds of incandescent fever trees,
The land rolls like a rough sea,
but our legs continue to plug one in front of the other
till we have seen every dip and stood atop every peak,
The sun, moon and stars take back time from the clock
as we drop into the rhythm of Nature,
Fatigue, starvation and the drive to finish our challenge,
drag us to the end.
The thing is,
Once these 19 days are up,
It’s not the end.
This land has claimed my heart.
I will forever look back and be grateful for what it has gifted me
Appreciation for health,
Gratitude for body,
Appreciation of mind,
Desire to do good,
Experience of life,
Connection with self and partner,
Love for family and friends.
Thank you Manyoni,