A girl, a buffalo and a Knobthorn tree.

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Very few things in this world can be quite as distracting to a young male guide as a pretty girl…and I had a very pretty girl on my mind. The year was 2012 and I was working on one of South Africa’s Provincial Game Parks.

In my opinion the best way to work through problems or think through tough decisions is to go for a walk in the bush, and man, I had some serious thinking to do! It was a typical winter’s day and after that morning’s (rather successful) game drive, I arrived back at the staff village with my mind in need of some serious decluttering.

I knocked on my neighbours bedroom door and told him not to say anything, but that I was going on a short solo bush walk and that I would be heading in a general Easterly direction. I’m not sure he was actually listening to me but hey, at least I had told someone, I thought. I grabbed a bottle of water and headed East out into the bush.

If you know anything about doing walks in Big Game country then you would know that some degree of stiuational awareness is of somewhat importance. That little fact seemed to have slipped my mind as I trudged through the bush letting my feet lead me along. My mind was focused on this girl that had seemed to fill all the space in my brain (not that there is that much space there) when I a loud SNORT and a CRACK from just infront of me brought my attention back to the present.

I looked up and noticed, in what was a surprisingly calm manner, that the old dagga boy standing 10m infront of me had quite long eyelashes. The old buffalo had probably been sleeping at the base of a Sicklebush thicket when I had rudely interrupted his much needed beauty sleep! He dropped his massive head and seemed to move towards me. Now I say ‘seemed’, as in all honest, As his gigantic horns took aim at me when he dropped his head, I had turned around and begun a flat out sprint towards the nearest tree…which thankfully was only 3 or so meters away.

Admittedly, my memory of the moment between seeing the dagga boy drop his head and reaching the top of the tree is a bit blurry, but I do remember hugging the upper most branches of the tree and the incredible sinking feeling in my stomach when I realized that the tree was not all that big…It was perhaps a 3m and rather flimsy Knobthorn tree.

I looked down and the buffalo bull, who by that time was standing a couple meters below my precarious position and I swear he had a smile on his face. After what seemed like an hour but what was most likely only a minute or two the bull moved off (probably out of pity) and I could start my slow and painful climb down the Knobthorn.

I walked back into the staff village 40mins before I needed to do an afternoon game drive, bleeding, battered, with a bruised ego and no where near having decluttered my mind. As I opened my bedroom door my neighbour shouted across, ”How was your walk?”.  To which I replied with a grunt and headed for a shower.

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