One last check of the radio, the rounds pouch, the ash bag, and with a solid fist-bump we were off. The cool early morning breeze was coming slightly from the west. Perfect. This meant it would be taking our scent away from any animals that may have been drawn to Kigelia pan, which was to be the first of many water sources we would by-pass on this adventure.
The soft sandy soils that dominate the north of Phinda, though difficult to walk through, mean that each well-placed step is near silent. We could hear the familiar bird calls ringing out all around us. A simple lift of the finger pointing in the direction that the sound was coming from was followed by a head nod in recognition of having heard it.
We both knew the other knew which bird it was, just as two accountants need not debate a commonly used formula and rather simply continue with their work. You see, this is what we love to do, it always has been, and it always will be.
A family dream is set into motion
Les Carlisle is known to many as “The Father of Phinda.” He played a major role in erecting the fences, reintroducing the animals and setting the standards that have been so wonderfully maintained to this day across this magical landscape.
Having just turned the corner from 60, recently retired, and in the year that Phinda celebrates 30 years of existence it dawned on us that this walk we had been discussing for years was finally staring us in the face.
Thanks to the kindness of lodge managers, reserve managers and head rangers we set a date and committed. In classic Carlisle fashion, the final plan was only decided on the day before we left, but decided on it was. We would do three days of walking, each day about 10 km and each day in a new area of the reserve.