Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Finally Home

So on Saturday was the last cub day which was sad but calm and I enjoyed being with the little monkeys all the more! Although we had no meat left to cut so we had to cut up chicken breasts instead which was so so so much easier than cutting up the beef.
Sunday was our day off so we chilled by the pool, helped with the cubs and started packing which was a lovely day. In the evening we all went to the bar for the last night, and was the most expensive night on my bar tab!!
Then finally we left on Monday, we were dropped off at the airport on Monday afternoon after saying all our quite emotional goodbyes. It was tough saying goodbye to the girls I came with as well as Gill the lady who runs the project. Getting on the plane was very disappointing because I did not want to leave at all!
It was one of the most amazing trips of my life, I will hopefully go again, but now I am home and time to look forward to New Zealand next!

Have a great week my loves!

Lots of Love, Kate xxx

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Trip Updates

Well, I haven't written for a while so I thought it would be time for an update. Sunday was a pretty relaxed day as we only had to look after the cubs in the afternoon so had a lie in the morning but that did mean forfeiting breakfast :( the cubs are so adorable - it's going to be so hard to leave them now, they just steal your hearts!

On Monday we had a ranger day which was well wanted, I love spending time with the cubs, don't get me wrong but sometimes you need a break from being eaten and scratched all day! As there were so many of us on ranger we split into three teams, my group went with Junior to collect a dead cow which we then, well I say we, I mean the ranger, Alister while we watched, cut up and disemboweled the cow who we then fed to the hyenas and tigers which was pretty gruesome but also amazing to see. 

On Tuesday a few of us went to an elephant and a monkey sanctuary and a craft market. It was great to see some other animals, and we each got a lovely wet kiss from the elephants as well as getting to take them for a walk! They were all from the circus or zoos etc. 
The monkey sanctuary was just next door and was so big, but it was a little different from ukutula and the elephants in that the monkeys are mainly pets that have been donated so you are not allowed to touch them as they are trying to become wild again. After pizza for lunch we went to the craft market - time for haggling, it was quite fun and I bought a few little pieces. 

On Wednesday we went to Pilanesberg national park in the jeep with Alister in order to do a day of safariing. It was amazing as we got to see rhinos and elephants, hippos and crocodiles and Alister knew so much about the animals and the park making it really interesting. We had lunch at this spot on one of the mountains overlooking a lake which was just beautiful, so peaceful and made everyone so philosophical! 

Thursday saw us get our lion walk with five of the older lions ranging between 1-2 years old. It was incredible to see the power of some of the lions but also a reminder how wild they are, even after being hand-reared by us. Then we went to Alister's bird rehab centre that he and his mum set up - 'The Patrick Lewis Raptor Foundation' which was the sweetest thing ever, it was their home where they would look after small birds that were injured and would try to help them be released into the wild, as they are not open to the public, and us volunteers are the only visitors they have I just had to donate something. They are so amazingly selfless to set up this centre. 

After visiting there, we went to the De Wilt cheetah centre which was cool as we got to see African wild dogs as well as some other animals but petting the cheetah was nowhere as good as our lions! Finally today quite a lot of the others have either gone to Kruger park for the weekend or went to sun city, the water park for the day. I decided to stay here with a few other people and was on ranger duty but we didn't really get to do much apart from picking up the veggies and feeding them to the zebras, ostriches, impala and wilder beasts. We also got to take a peek at the new 3 days old lions cubs but their mum was protecting them very well so we only got to see a glimpse. 

Well, that's it for this week, it's been busy but amazing. I cannot believe we only have two and a half days left in South Africa and with the lions. I know it is going to break my heart to come home from the country and the lions so I am already planning a trip for next year and hopefully, I can bring one of my friends along too! 

Have a great week my loves!

Lots of Love, Kate xxx

Saturday, 10 May 2014


On both Friday and Saturday I was on cub duty which meant I have now learnt all the names of the babies who are now 5 weeks old, they were called Lexus, Jag and Cooper with are car theme going on, however, we had a celebrity visitor at Ukutula, an American ventriloquist comedian called Jeff Dunham - who I had never heard of. He has adopted the little ones and changed their names to the names of his puppets, Ahmed, Walter and Peanut, which I think are really stupid names by the way!!

Anyway, I spent most of these days with the bigger cubs: Kala (who is a boy), Sherlock, Dingo, Audrey, Jasmine, Nero and Logan (who is a girl) makes no sense I know but there we go! They are all very sweet but I have many many scratches and bite marks to prove their love!  Each has their own personality and character. 

Also yesterday some new volunteers arrived from Awesome Travel, most are nice but don't seem to want to come to the bar tonight - well except the only English guy - of course, the English love to drink! But it did mean it was time to say goodbye to Victor and Anton, two Swedish guys, and Mads who was from Denmark which was a little sad because they had been very helpful with learning everything about the cubs. 
Right, time for bed soon as we get the morning off tomorrow I need to do my laundry, exciting life I know!

Have a great week my loves!

Lots of Love, Kate xxx

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Ranger Day

Today was my first-day doing ranger duties. We started later than the days with the cubs, and it all seemed a little more relaxed as we all sat in the back of a pickup truck on the way to collect a dead cow! After seeing one that had been left so long that its stomach had swelled so huge we went to pick up another one that had died on a farm. Having dropping that off back at Ukatula we then went to go and collect loads of unwanted veggies which we had to load from giant crates into the back of the trailer. Then after a long lunch we took the veggies we had collected in the morning, along with four crates of frozen chickens and went to feed the 'gremlins' or the teenage lions, and by feed, I mean flinging dead, half frozen chickens over a barbed wire fence... After that, we drove around the park unloading veggies and smashing them up for the giraffe, ostriches etc. And that was it for ranger day so fairly chilled but tomorrow is cubs again so lots more to do! 

Have a great week my loves!

Lots of Love, Kate xxx

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Lions, Lions, Lions

Right, as you can see from the pictures, I have finally met the lions! From the 13-year-old, 250kg males (behind a fence), to the 3-week old baby cubs which I could give endless cuddles all day long! 
Today was the first full day at Ukatula - the name of the reserve, meaning 'place of quiet' and today was our first cub day. Yesterday we had a tour of the place and saw a few cubs, lions and tigers too! They are all incredible. 

Today we had to feed, clean and play with the baby cubs, feed the older ones with chopped up meat which we also had the pleasure of having to cut up which takes forever and is pretty gross... Also had the joy of getting dead chickens for the even older ones who are called 'Devils'. 

Tomorrow we are on ranger duty, having heard horror stories of having to cut up dead horses I am somewhat dubious, but here goes nothing! There was a dead horse in the freezer today which some others had to chop up, even seeing it dead there was quite strange...

Anyway, I will try to update you all soon! 

Have a great week my loves!

Lots of Love, Kate xxx

Monday, 5 May 2014

Jo'burg and Pretoria

So I am now in Pretoria Backpackers in South Africa! After a long flight, stopping via Istanbul, which was very very strange to be travelling alone for the first time, I am here. I found it very strange travelling alone because I had no one to talk to for about 14 hours! But never mind. After battling through passport control and security, and a nervous moment trying to find the man I was meant to be meeting, I was met at the airport by the Real Gap rep and one of the girls who would be on the project, Tash, from Dublin, who works at Google! How cool is that?!? I thought she was going to have an amazing Irish accent but no such luck. Quickly arriving after me was Annabel who funnily enough comes from near Reading - isn't it a small world? We then were driven to Pretoria backpackers which was much much nicer than I thought it was going to be, nothing like the naff bunk bed hostels I've stayed in before, we have our own house!

Then we went out for lunch but were told not to go too far so just went down the road to a sports bar where the food was very cheap, before coming back to the hostel and having a well-needed nap. Next, it was orientation where we were told about the project and South Africa in General before having dinner which was rice, vegetables and some sort of sweet sauce, different but very nice. 

Now we are just chilling before going to bed as we have to be ready to leave for Brits, the town near the lion cub project at 9.30.

I will try to write tomorrow about our first day and orientation with the lions!

Have a great week my loves!

Lots of Love, Kate xxx

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