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Nathalie in South Africa

Welcome to my travelling page. Here you can read about my stay in South Africa where I work on the amazing reserve, Shamwari. Please feel free to leave a comment for me, and I will reply. This experience is something I've been wanting to do for a long time, so I'm very exited about being here. Actually I've been here for a month now. But my room mate, Anja, left today, so I will be trying to update everyone as best as I can for the next 2 months (",)

Diary Entries

Saturday, 03 December 2005

Location: Cape Town - PE, South Africa

Nooo! Today we had to leave to go back to Alicedale & work. Emily, Rosie, Rach & myself got up at 8am because we wanted to go to the waterfront before we had to leave for the airport. We got back to Aardvark at 10.45am & packed the rest of our things. At 11am we checked out & got in a taxi for the airport. The flight didn’t take long in my point of view – maybe because I was asleep the whole way (“,). Arriving in PE we thought we had a taxi waiting for us to take us to Alicedale, however, no one was there. After some time we called the guy, who normally drives us, when we need to go somewhere. Though, he was already in Alicedale so we waited at the airport for app. 2 hours before we were actually on hour way.
It had been such a great trip, but it was quite nice to return to our known surroundings…

Friday, 02 December 2005

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

We were all tired from our experiences yesterday so we allowed ourselves to sleep until 8.30am. We all wanted to go to Table Mountain, however, in the morning it seemed a bit cloudy so we all thought we might wait until later in the day. So, instead we went to the Waterfront to catch up on some Christmas shopping. (We have secret Santa’s, so we had to get presents for that as well). After lunch at The Green Dolphin, we thought we’d go home quickly to drop off our bags. Afterwards, we were on our way to Table Mountain. When we’d paid we took the elevator to go to the platform to wait for the cable car that was to take us to the top. The ride up there was really scary, because I hate heights. However, when we came to the top the most amazing view caught our eyes! You could see everything in miles’ distance – a place worth going if ever in Cape Town. Afterwards, we took a taxi to the Waterfront, where we were to meet up with Lexie & Emma (two of the students). We were going to the cinema to watch “Harry Potter & the goblet of fire”. And I must say that it’s the best Harry Potter film yet. Ross & myself laughed so hard throughout the film. It was so funny – worth getting on DVD when it’s released!!! When the film was over some of us went for dinner. We wanted to try Kingklip and so we went to a restaurant called, Ocean Basket. After dinner we were really tired and so we went back to Aardvark to get some sleep. This was to the last night in Cape Town – I have had the best trip!

Thursday, 01 December 2005

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Today it was time to face the scary great white sharks. Rachael, Ross & myself were picked up at Aardvark at 5.15am, which was way to early!! However, what won’t you do to face your fear – which was what I was about to do. We had a 21/2 hours drive ahead of us all the way to Gansbaai. When we arrived in Gansbaai we had a short briefing & some breakfast. Afterwards, we had a 10 minutes drive to the harbour, where “Tom Cat” – the boat – was waiting to set sea… The boat ride took about 20 minutes. When we stopped our guide said it could take all from 5 minutes to 2 hours until we’d see the first shark, so all we could do now was to be patient. They put out the bait (fish heads) & we waited. Not even 5 minutes passed when we heard the skipper call out: “Shark!”. We all looked in the direction of the bait and there it was. A big, dark shadow was slowly approaching the boat & all of a sudden it grabbed a hold of the bait showing its teeth & eyes very clearly. I can’t ever explain the feeling of fear I felt at that point. I couldn’t believe I was so close to a great white shark!!! Quickly they started putting the cage in the water, securing that it was fastened to the boat. Then they called us asking for the first 5 people, who wanted do go in the cage. At that point I was hiding in the corner afraid they might ask me… Ross & Rach went in with the first group. We were told that each group would have 15 minutes in the water until the next group would go in – we had to give everyone a fair chance to see the sharks in case they wouldn’t be hanging around… However, they did – all day!! When everyone had had a go in the cage I started feeling I had to do it – otherwise I new I’d regret it forever. Like the bungee-man said: “Fear lasts a second, regret lasts a lifetime”. So, I put on my wetsuit – with great difficulty because it was still wet! - & my diving shoes – which were about 5 sizes too big – and walked slowly towards the cage. I sat on the top of the cage, while I put on my mask. When I stepped on a pole on the cage I accidentally slipped onto a man’s head, forcing him to go under water. Before I even got in the cage the man yelled that a shark was approaching & that we should dive. However, I was still sat on the cage – it all went very quickly – and so, when the shark grabbed the bait it looked at me, dived & splashed water on me – that was one close encounter!!! When I was finally in the cage the man once again told us to dive. I didn’t see a thing & by that point I was trying to control my breathing. Third time lucky, I dived & actually saw the shark – it’s was terrifying! So, I told the man I was done. A whole of 3 minutes I was in that cage – I’m sooo glad I did it, but I know I’ll never do it again! At about 11.30 we started riding back to the harbour. The ride back was horrible as nearly everyone on board felt sea sick (I know for sure my dad wouldn’t have liked that boat ride (“,) ).
When we were finally back on land we relaxed for a bit & catched our breath. After about 10 minutes we took off to shark alley, where we had lunch & saw the video of our trip… The ride back to Cape Town was really nice. We all needed sleep on top of today’s excitement & apart from the man, who drove the car – of course – got some.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget that day – the day I faced the monster of the deep… (PS. Ross’ braids only lasted until today…)

Wednesday, 30 November 2005

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Today we went on the Peninsula Tour! We met the guide, Louise, in the lobby at 8.45am ready to go. When we had picked up some people from other hotels we started the drive down the coast… We followed the Atlantic Seaboard, past Clifton & Camps Bay & stopped in Hout Bay from where we had the opportunity to go to Duiker Island (for an extra R35) & see Cape Fur Seals. The seals were amazing & believe it or not a young whale was spotted! – Though I didn’t see it because of some very pushy Japanese : ( Afterwards, we drove along Chapman’s Peak Drive to Simons’s Town from where we were going to see a colony of Jackass Penguins at Boulders Beach. Well, we didn’t just drive all day – we brought mountain bikes! However, before the ride from the lighthouse at Cape Point down to the Cape of Good Hope we had lunch at a beach inside the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve.
After the hike to the lighthouse at Cape Point we started the ride down to Cape of Good Hope, which was about 6 km. It was a beautiful ride down, though I couldn’t get past the fact that the bike had no foot brakes, so it took some time – but then I could enjoy the view (“,). When we’d taken loads of pics the time came for us to start the drive back to Cape Town. On the way back we took a route that led us through Scarborough and Kommetjie. We arrived back at the hotel at about 6.30pm. Yesterday when we went to get our hair braided there wasn’t enough time for Ross to get his done as well, so, once again we went to Africare so he could get his hair done. It turned out really nice, though it wouldn’t take long before it came undone…

Tuesday, 29 November 2005

Location: PE - Cape Town, South Africa

Today was a very exiting day as we were going to Cape Town…! At 7 o’clock we were picked up at the house by the taxi & off we went to the airport in PE. When we arrived & had checked in we went for some breakfast – my parents paid & it was very much appreciated by everyone!
After breakfast we walked around for a bit looking at the shops before we took off at 11.15. The flight was about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
When we landed in Cape Town we couldn’t find the guy that was to pick us up & take us to Aardvark backpackers, where we had rented a flat. However, after maybe 20 minutes or so, Emily found the guy, who had been looking for us.
When we arrived to the “hotel” a lady greeted us & took us around to show us where the bar, restaurant etc. was. Afterwards, we were given the key to our flat. When we opened the door we were all surprised of how nice it was! Rachael & myself shared a room, Rosie & Georgina shared and Ross & Emily slept in the common room. We had two bathrooms, a big kitchen & two terraces (I’ll put on some pics!).
The first thing we did was to get some brochures & read about the various trips & places to go. We sat down & tried to decide what to do & after some time we had a plan for the next days:
Wednesday: (everyone) Peninsula Tour
Thursday: Rachael, Ross & myself; shark cage diving
Rosie, Emily & Georgina; visit to the local township & Robben Island
Friday: (everyone) shopping, Table Mountain & the cinema
Saturday: going back to Alicedale
When we had booked the trips we went to a hair salon called Africare. During the day Rachael & myself had talked about getting our hair braided and so we did – as did Georgina. Poor Ross sat there waiting for 3 hours until my hair was finished. He’s a true champ! (“,) Rachael & Georgina still weren’t finished, so, me & Ross went back to the hotel where Rosie & Em were waiting and then the four of us went downstairs to the restaurant & had dinner.
It had been a long day – especially for Ross – so we all went to bed early looking very much forward to the next day!

Friday, 25 November 2005

Location: Shamwari, South Africa

Today we took a look at some tracks by one of the lakes trying to identify them. Afterwards we drove around just enjoying the wild life. We returned for lunch & afterwards we drove off. We were meeting Vuyo & Sydney (from Born Free) & going to a day care center in one of the small owns near Paterson to build the children a swing. When we arrived they were all looking at us curiously all wondering what we were doing. When we had finished all of them lined up eager to try it. The joy in their eyes & the smile on their faces was simply amazing… We should all be so happy with what we’ve got – so much is taken for granted!

Thursday, 24 November 2005

Location: Shamwari, South Africa

I woke up still tired from the wilderness. However, the show must go on & so it did. Today we were yet again doing some animal distribution. At about 10 o’clock we had a call on the radio from Steve. He was with the caracal. I was so exited. Though, it was 30 minutes drive away & when we arrived it had just run off to the bush. I couldn’t believe this was the 2nd time I’d missed it. I really want to see it before I go home!!!
After the disappointment of missing it we went back to Alicedale for lunch. We didn’t go out in the afternoon because we’d planned a night drive, so Emma, Lexie & me went to lie by the pool. After dinner we all started getting ready & we left at 7.30pm. It was a really nice drive. We saw: lions (apparently we’re doing a 2-week monitoring of them where we take shifts watching them closely – can’t wait, we might see a kill), wild dogs eating an impala, white rhino & an aardvark – some really great sightings! When we got back we were all very tired & went to bed…

Wednesday, 23 November 2005

Location: Wilderness - Alicedale, South Africa

We woke up at 7am. I had the worst night last night. My back hurt so much I couldn’t get comfortable. But luckily we didn’t have spiders or snakes! After our usual cup of coffee/tea we cleared the camp - & again you could not see that we’d been there. Amazing! We wanted to head on back to base camp early so we could return to Alicedale for a late breakfast. The hike back wasn’t too bad except for one very steep hill (that almost killed me). When we could see the base camp we were all very exited that we’d made it! When finally there we emptied our bags & drove back…
The wilderness really was an amazing experience & one I’ll never forget!

Tuesday, 22 November 2005

Location: Wilderness, South Africa

The next morning we were supposed to get up at 7am to make breakfast & get ready to leave camp, but it was raining s we slept until 8am. When we finished our breakfast, cleared camp & packed our bags you really couldn’t see that we’d been there. And so, we started walking to the next camp site. I wouldn’t say it was a hard walk but it was up hill & down hill, so, it was challenging. On the way we stopped at a lake, where we went swimming. Keep in mind we weren’t allowed to bring soap or deodorant to the wilderness so it was really nice - & cooling! Afterwards we had another 40 minutes to camp. We walked along an old elephant track so of course we collected some dung for the fire at night. When we arrived I was shocked at how open it was. Last nights camp was nothing compared to this. We were to sleep under a tree – which was perfect for lions. You could actually see scratch marks! Opposite that tree was the perfect tree for a leopard. Even though I love both the lion & the leopard I’d preferre them staying away just for the night – especially on my watch! The first thing we did was yet again to collect water – this time Samara went in & came out with a lot of lichens on her feet! Afterwards we had lunch (tuna sandwiches) & then we all rested for a bit. When we woke up it was quite late so we started boiling water for tea/coffee before cooking dinner. Again we had goulash & again we toasted marshmallows on the fire. Today Emma & me got shift 1 & 2, which we were very happy about! Only today everyone went to bed at 9pm so the shifts were longer than yesterday. We had to keep watch from 21.00-23.50. Even though it went quick it was very painful on the back – you have to sit upright so the fire illumines your face. That way the animals watching can see that someone is still awake… Again we survived & it was so nice being able to go to bed!

Monday, 21 November 2005

Location: Wilderness, South Africa

We didn’t go out this morning because some of us were going on the wilderness trail…! The ones who were going were Steve (the ranger), Samara, Rach, Emma, Rosie & myself. We were all very exited…
At 2 o’clock (after lunch) we were off. First we drove to base camp where we got our backpacks, bottles, sleeping bags etc. When we had packed our bags Steve took some time explaining the most important rule: we weren’t allowed to talk! & of course he had to shows us the hand signals he would use once we would start walking & then we were off. We had 45 minutes to camp but we had to climb (what I’d like to call) a small mountain to get there, so it was hard. A “wall” made of rocks surrounded the camp but I still felt it was quite open (however, that was before I’d seen our next camp site!). The first thing we did was to collect water. We walked for about 5 minutes until we came to a pond. We’d brought bags and such to fill with water. Though, one of us had to go into the water to collect it. Rumors said that there were lichens in the water so I didn’t exactly volunteer. The only one that did was Rach & Emma and myself couldn’t help laughing at it (she didn’t know)… Though, she only found two lichens on her feet. When we came back to camp we immediately started a fire & boiled some water for tea/coffee. Then we started arranging the place we were to sleep – we’d brought a sort of tent that we put up (though, it wasn’t closed so everything could get in, which it did!). At around 6pm we started cooking dinner – Steve’s famous goulash. Even though it was good I couldn’t help comparing it to my mums recipe – and when comparing it suddenly wasn’t so tasty after all… After dinner we toasted some marshmallows on the fire & after that we had the serious talk. We were told that we had shifts during the night where we had to keep the fire alive and look for animals surrounding camp. I was already freaked out during the day. How was I going to sit here all alone?? I couldn’t and neither could Emma, so, we decided to do our shifts together. We got shift 3 & 4, which meant from 00.50-03.10. We decided to go to bed at 10pm so we could be ready for the shift. Maybe that was a bad idea… When we’d just settled in I saw something crawling on the “tent” roof. I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t sure if I was imagining things. But I definitely was not!!! When I lit my torch my worst nightmare appeared. A giant spider (later identified as a rain spider) was there just looking at us – waiting for us to go to sleep so it could strike! Emma started screaming & we were both calling for Steve to come & take it away. We couldn’t get out of there fast enough! We were both still in our sleeping bags so we had to crawl like worms. Emma kept pulling my leg because she was afraid I’d leave her – drama, drama, drama…
When we’d settled down Rosie had already finished her shift (the 1st shift of the night) & we realized we had to get some sleep if we were to stay awake. So, we went back to bed after having checked everything (several times) for creepy crawlers. No later than 10 minutes after we’d gone to bed Rosie started screaming: “SNAKE!!! STEVE. TAKE IT AWAY!!!”. I simply could not believe this was happening. Apparently it was a baby snake – a blind snake. And NOT welcome in our camp, so it was released “outside”… I fell asleep somehow, because the next thing I remember is being woken up & being told, “you’re up”. Oh my god, it was time to do the shift… We sat in front of the fire just looking at each other not knowing what to do. We couldn’t stop laughing & it only got worse when Steve told us to be quiet - & when he then said: “What part of be quiet don’t they understand?” We knew we weren’t allowed to talk; we were just so scared we couldn’t help it. Though, we soon stopped & before we knew it the shift was over. We had survived & I must say I was very proud of myself! (“,)

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Recent Messages

From Annette Hartnack
Hej med dig.
Sikke en masse spaendende ting du oplever. Oplevelser for livet. Det slaar alt hvad jeg har oplevet paa tre aar i Afrika, og lidt farligt lyder det ogsaa. Hvad synes dine foraeldre om det? Fortaeller du alt eller sparer du dem for de store oejeblikke. Jeg oensker dig fortsat en masse gode oplevelser, og vaer nu bare lidt forsigtig, for alle vil jo gerne se dig til jul,
kh Annette
Response: Hi Annette.
Great to hear from u. Some of the things I've experienced I didn't think I would - for example the bungy... When I told my parents they were very surprised, but thought it was very cool! Can't wait 2 tell u all about it when I return.
From Dad
Just read your story from the put pressure on my by doing this, now I have to bungy jump, sleep in the wild with lions and leopards...oh my God!!!!
I'm proud of you and what you are doing down there!
I look forward to seeing you again quiet Denmark.
Lots of kisses,
Response: Hi dad.
Can't wait to see u all again! It's weird to think about the fact that I only have 19 days left... Noooo!
Though, it's gonna be hard to get used to the cold... Love you, Nathalie xxx
From Mum
So great to hear that you are back safely from your Wilderness Trail - eagerly awaiting all the details and can't wait to see you back home.

Mum & Co.
Response: Hi mum...
I've just updated the page... And written about the wilderness. I'm so glad I did it.. Can't wait to see all of you!
Love you,
From Mum
Good morning
Just saw the latest pictures... the spider's nest would have left me running for miles. Hope you get to see the caracal one of these days. They are just so cute!

Looking forward to reading more exiting news.
Mum & Co

From Granddad
Dear Nathalie !

How will you, after SA, be able to cope with DK ?
Grandma and I are following your reports from the various trips around in SA.
With love from both of us.

Response: Hi...
I really don't know how I'm gonna be able to go from this to physics/chemistry... I've just put on some more pics for you (",)...
Miss & love you.
From Helle Laursen
Hey Nathalie
Great to know that you're still alive and having so much fun.
It's winter, cold and very dark here and I've realised after reading your diary that I have a very boring life :-)
Take care
Response: Hi Helle.
Great to hear from you. I think I'm gonna get very bored very soon after my return to DK. How am I gonna survive without my precious animals...? - & the cold...!
From Anja
Hey sweetie!!
Still log on every day to see if you've updated the page! I'm loving reading it but am really sad to be missing out!
Still miss you all so much, especially our late night gossips & the 'talking in your sleep' sagas...!
Look forward to a good gossip soon.
love you AJ xxx
Response: Hi sweety!!
I'm so glad you're still logging on every day - though I don't update the site every day...
Got a message from Simon - how nice of him to write me (",)
Can't wait to c u again!!!
Nathalie aka Nash
From Lene
Hi Girl!
I'm sooo jealous of you!! But I love reading about your amazing stories. I'm glad that you're having such a great time. I just can't believe all the things you've done. Brave little ranger;-)
Miss you a lot! Can't wait for you to come home and tell me all about your fantastic trip.

Take care

Ps. Looking forward to seeing some more pictures.
Response: Hi cutie!
Don't worry... I'll tell you everything when I get home & show you the pics! Can't wait to c u again... Miss u 2,
PS. I've just put on some pics... (",)
From Mum
Great that you are still having such a wonderful time - I'm very envious and can't wait to hear all the details. Reading about your experiences makes our days seem extremely ordinary!
Take care and have lots of more fun.

Response: Hi mum...
I really am! - & I can't wait to tell all about it. I'm so scared of coming home now not being able to see my beautiful lions every day (".) I've been bitten by the African bug - again!
Love you,
From Ivan H-H
Just seen the picturers - fantactic to see you with the leopard, just wish it was me that tried that!!!
We are goint to the airport in half an hour, Sophie are returning home from her trip to Skt. Croix!
Love you,
PS.: Best wishes from mom and Christian as well...
Response: Hi dad...
It really was amazing! I still can't believe how soft it was... I'm sooo glad John came driving past us otherwise we wouldn't have seen it (",).. It was really lucky.
Love you too.
From Simon (Anja's hubby)
Hey Nat

Anja's soooo envious that she has missed all this stuff! Sounds like you're having a great time and I look forward to actually meeting you!

Forsigtig, sindssyg Nat! (hope that's right...! It's supposed to mean 'Be careful crazy Nat!).

Oh well!

Response: Hi Simon.
Great to hear from you! Look forward to meeting you when you and Aj come to DK. I'm so sad for her that she missed it : ( Still think it's weird not having a room mate. Are you still planning on a trip to SA? Your Danish is really good - keep up the good work!
Give Aj a big hug from me!
Hi, Nathalie
It seems that you continue to meet new challenges every day. May be you can offer the Zoo of Copenhagen your assistance on tranquilizing their "big game" on your return to DK.
Take care!
Tove and Eigil
Response: Hi Tove & Eigil.
Great to hear from you. Well, I'd love to work with their big game - but I'd rather work with them in Africa...
Hope you are all great - say hi to everyone for me. Can't wait to tell you all about my trip when i get back...
From Christian
Hi Nat!

It all sounds so cool! Nice to hear that you're still having such a good time ;) Miss you sooo much!

Love ya
Big brother :)
Response: Hi Bror
Thanks...! I really am enjoying this trip soooooo much - still wake up in the morning thinking I can't believe I'm finally here ! ! Miss u too (",)
Little sis
From AJ
You lucky lucky girl!!! If only I was still there.... Am very jealous! xxx
Response: Hi sweety...
I KNOW ! It was the best surprise ever... Wish u could have been there as well...
From Bedstefar/Granddaddy
Dear Nathalie !
Your grandma and I are looking forward to hearing news from you.
We had a toasted you yersterday.
Love bedstemor og bedstefar
Response: Hi
Just got Billed Bladet - thank u so much. Nice to see the new Prince ...
Love U,
From Ivan Haack-Hamilton
Hi Nathalie.

Nice to see your new page - I will follow the development very closely!
Hope everything are OK even you have "lost" some of your new friends from England!
But as you mention, new ones are already arrived, so I hope that they will be as good friends as tho "old" ones were.
Looking forward to hearing from you SOON!
Response: Hi dad.
Just saw your message... I didn't choose the private page, so, you should be able to see the messages... Love U, Nathalie
From AJ
Hey sweetie!
Have the best time over the next 2 months! Look forward to reading the updates. Don;t forget me & don;t get yourself stolen...!
love you xxx
Hopefully, the updates will be as funny as yours... & don't worry - I won't get stolen. I hope!
Don't forget to write (",)
From Mum
Hi lovey
Great - we are so looking forward to hearing more from you than we are used to! It's a big job filling Anja's shoes but we're sure you'll manage one way or the other.
Lots of love and kisses from all of us incl. Loisaba, Romeo, Freddy and Rose - we're sure they'll all be very happy to see you back in DK in one piece!
Mum & Co.

Hi mum & co.
Hopefully, I'll be able to do as great a job as she did...
Love U all,