Limpopo Bats, Bacon Sandwiches and Burgers
My dad likes bats. Some people think it’s weird but I think it is a reasonable hobby. They seem like nice enough creatures. He belongs to a club called the Bat Interest Group. They have trips where they collect, study and then release bats.
This weekend I went to a bat meeting with my mum and dad in Limpopo. Limpopo is a province with lots of bats. Essentially all we were going to do was go camping and study the local bats.
On Friday my parents were frantically trying to pack the car we were going to go in while I was all calm upstairs playing with my new Xbox. As soon as I started trying to help I was stung by a wasp. Curses! It was very painful but at the time I thought “well, I am glad that it was only me that got stung.” I was wrong!!! Immediately afterwards my mum was stung and then when my dad tried to remove the nest he got stung too. My dad was the only one who was lucky – the sting couldn’t get through his shirt so it didn’t get him. My poor mum lay on the bed moaning for ages.
The plan was to leave at eleven ‘clock but we actually only left at twelve. We went in my mum’s car which is quite small and I was squeezed in next to the trunk of food and the tent and all the bedding and the cooler box. I felt very claustrophobic – see photos for more details! It had been a long time but we had got on the road…finally…
We drove towards Mokopane in Limpopo which is the town closest to where we were going to camp.
It was a longggggggggggggg way (about 3 hours from my house) but we had finally got there. We stayed at a farm called Thabaphaswa .
We went to reception and got a map and went to the campsite. As soon as we found our spot I got into the tree because I needed to be free of that car.
I came down and had to help put up the tent.
Then we had cheese and crackers.
I finally was able to read my new book – Fantastic Beasts the crimes of Grindleweld.
That evening a lady called Hermine came and said she was the climbing manager at Thabaphaswa and would I like to go climbing the next day. I said yes because I thought she just meant a sort of hike like I had done with Justice (see my previous post). I didn’t understand how hectic her idea of climbing was. When we got to the site the next day I realized that this was proper rock climbing. I was very, very nervous. I thought ‘oh boy’. When it was my turn I put on the climbing shoes and harness and helmet.
The harness is coupled to the rope and the rope is attached to the rock. At the bottom there was a person who holds the rope. When I started climbing it was very frightening because the mountain seemed very smooth, there didn’t seem to be any footholds – my shoe could only occupy 1/10th of the place on the rock that I was trying to put it.
There was one point where I couldn’t find any foothold grip points at all. I stayed there gripping the rock terrified for about 3 minutes trying to work out where to go.
I finally found a tiny grip and held onto it with 2 fingers and pulled with all my strength.
I made it. When I finally got to the top I felt quite shaken that I had been able to do that. Also when you get to the top it is awful because the mountain goes up and sideways so when I looked back down I couldn’t see anyone!
What I had to do to get down was to hang back on the harness and slowly walk backwards.
You would think that would be the scariest part but it actually wasn’t. It was fine going backwards. When I finally made it back to the ground I was glad to be down. It was one of those things you are glad you have done once but you don’t want to do again.
Then me and my mum walked back to camp and my dad made us delicious bacon sandwiches. It was very hot so I decided it was time for some swimming.
After some time cow came and took a drink from the pool.I suppose it was actually a farm dam so I was in his water, rather than him being in mine.
Then it was time to set up the bat traps. As it began to get dark there were quite a lot of bats flying around. Some flew into the traps. But quite a lot were too clever for us and just flew over them or around them. When you catch a bat you untangle it and you see what species it is and then you see if it is fragile or has babies. If it does you let it go immediately. If it doesn’t you put them in bags and inspect them in more detail and only let them go once you have done that. This takes a few minutes.
I got to hold one bat when it was time to release it. It was a Yellow Bellied House Bat. It didn’t seem to want to go. It clung to me and wouldn’t fly off. It had been caught in the net that was over the farm dam and it had fallen into the water we thought maybe it was cold so someone from the bat group took it and warmed it up when it was warm they gave it back to me again. And it still wouldn’t fly off so I just stood there with a bat on my hand for about 10 minutes. I didn’t feel irritated with him just a bit sorry for how tired he was. I thought ‘take your time. It’s okay’. Eventually he flew off home.
By the third day I was beginning to really miss technology – there was no cell phone reception and no internet at all. It was time for a change. We went to the Ranch Hotel outside Polokwane.
Wi-Fi and TV heaven with trampolines too. I watched Master Chef Australia and lots of YouTube videos. For lunch I had a big juicy burger with great fat chips in the restaurant. For supper I had a ham cheese and tomato toasted sandwich and malva pudding from room service.
Thabaphaswa Mountain Sanctuary https://thabaphaswa.co.za/
Gauteng & Northern Regions Bat Interest Group: “GNoR BIG” https://www.batsgauteng.org.za/