“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” - Mae West
Arriving in Africa was quite a shock to the system, I never thought I'd have this once in a lifetime opportunity to visit the African continent. I stayed in a small place about an hour away from Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. I took part in a one month volunteer programme, called “Imire” which included lots of different activities like conservation work, observing animals and caring for them amongst many other things.
I still remember the first day, it was nighttime when me and some other volunteers were driving to our accommodation. On the way there, I saw my first wild animal, a Giraffe. It was just standing there, eating and not at all fazed by us. As I’ve observed multiple times during my stay in Africa, Giraffes are very curious animals and look at you with deep dark eyes as if they are wondering what kind of creature you are. We arrived at the lodge and went to bed right away. We all felt pretty tired due to the long flight we took to get here: Dublin - Dubai (7 hours) then Dubai - Harare (7 hours) plus an extra 2 hour drive.
Our incredibly rewarding routine of hard work
The next morning we began our routine of waking up at 6am to be ready by 6:30am to start conservation work with the animals. We got to work with a huge variety of African wildlife such as giraffes, elephants, rhinos, warthogs, zebras, crocodiles, monkeys, lions and a variety of African deer. First up we spent some time to bond with them, teach them new tricks and walk them back to the lodge. Walking with them, touching them and being so close to them in general truly is a life changing experience, and it made me realise that there's so much more adventure and excitement to life than what I was used to.
After our first encounter with the animals in the morning, we usually had breakfast. The meals that were prepared for us by the locals were a combination of huge amounts of carbs and a common kind of protein which provided us with plenty of energy for the physical work we were doing.
After breakfast, we’d usually be doing some kind of conservation work; things like fixing fences, collecting barbwires or finding traps that poachers had placed to hunt the wild animals.
Imagine doing this kind of work, non stop, in the African heat. It might sound crazy but the sweat running down my spine felt pretty good, almost like a nice warm shower in the cold mornings. Everywhere I went, I took my camera to take breathtaking pictures of the beautiful scenery.
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