My friends and I had the time of our lives exploring one of the seven natural wonders of the world, Victoria Falls. This photo captures Kayla and me on the gorge swing. Our faces were priceless as we were pushed off this ledge and free fell into the Falls.
The bush babies are just some of the animals that we get to care for in the park, they’re certainly one of the cutest though. From left to right we have, Peanut, Fungus, and Apey. One big happy family! Early in the trip, we had to give Apey medicine for the lesion on his face. Thankfully, it has gone down and he no longer needs the meds. Peanut is still a baby and is a bit fearful of humans still. And Fungus is the sweetest little thing on the planet, you can pick her up and carry her around all day!
This day was such a fun experience giving tours, conducting science experiments, and teaching kids from this area about the wildlife that we all love. It was CARACAL’s first Chobe Kids Environmental Fair, and it was a huge success! Here is a photo of Heaven, Alletah, and I at the end of such a fun-filled day.
Victoria Falls is definitely deserving of a place on the list of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. I’ve never been somewhere that literally took my breath away, and I like to think that I’ve seen a good bit of the world. Even the Grand Canyon can’t hold a candle to this, despite it being so… well, grand. I was lucky enough to visit both the Zambia and the Zimbabwe sides of the falls so I was able to get the entire experience. I have to say, the Zambia side had completely spectacular views, but the Zimbabwe side had a much nicer park and less impressive views. Though the picture above was taken on the Zim’ side at the furthest point, aptly named Danger Point.
On both sides the best part, in my opinion, was getting absolutely doused by the spray coming off of the falls. At the entrance and all around the town of Victoria Falls, there were people trying to offer me ponchos or umbrellas so that you wouldn’t get as soaked as you would otherwise. But I think this is all part of the experience. The Zambia side would have felt completely different if it was just dry and we were sat there staring at the falls. When you’re standing there, looking at the falls, and it feels like its raining because there’s so much water coming off of the falls, so much is added to the experience. Especially because I haven’t seen a drop of rain the entire time we’ve been here.
Writing this blog post, with less than 10 days left in Botswana, I am reflecting back on my time here when I first arrived. I looked out the window of our small 25 passenger plane, and saw the bush, thinking to myself how incredible it is. A few nights ago many of us were talking about some of our “unrealistic” dreams we have. Growing up, my dream of going to Africa always seemed like the unrealistic one; yet here I am, at 20 years old, living out my biggest dream. Not only did I make it to Africa, but I made it to Africa, and I am doing what I am most passionate about: working with wildlife and spreading my love for it to an area filled with amazing people. As cliche as it sounds, this has been a trip of a lifetime, and I can’t wait to share my experiences on this page to give you just a glimpse of my unique experiences in Botswana.
I’m going to give just a quick rundown on how our schedule works and what a day in the life of one of the undergraduates looks like.
We wake up at around 6:30-7:00 am and meet in the kitchen to have breakfast with everyone. From there, we get ready and get driven to CARACAL at around 8:00-8:30 am and begin our work depending on our different rotations. I (Sam) mainly work in the lab, so I work with the other lab technicians (Ithu and Lloyd) and sometimes the graduate students (Madalyn and Nick) to aide Dr. Alexander in her research projects. I work in the lab back at Virginia Tech, so I’m trained and able to do work with DNA extractions, PCR, and bloodborne pathogens. I typically do DNA extractions of the different animal species here, such as elephants, hippos, buffalo, etc. and later run PCR on them to determine what bacteria they are positive for. After a long day of work, at around 5 or 6 pm, we get driven back to the student village where we’re staying (about 5 minutes from CARACAL), and everybody has dinner together and shares what they did for the day.
Soon enough I’ll be able to post pictures of the lab and Ithu and Lloyd and talk more about what they do.
Welcome to our blog page focusing on the research abroad we’re all a part of; the Wildlife Health Immersion in Africa! We’re a group of 14 undergraduates at Virginia Tech varying from Wildlife Conservation majors, to Environmental Informatics, Biological Sciences and more! From the 21st of May to the 16th of July, we have been living in Kasane, Botswana, working at a local NGO named CARACAL, which is run with assistance from Virginia Tech professor Dr. Kathleen Alexander. On this page, you’ll be able to find updates from each one of us as we finish our journey here in Kasane. We hope that you enjoy reading about our experiences as much as we have enjoyed living them.