Athenkosi Khulu is an Earthchild and one of our Alumni. He’s been part of our programme for many years and finished Grade 12 last year.
Recently he had the opportunity, as part of the Earthchild Project Hiking Club, to join the “Wilderness Within” trail for five days of walking and camping combined with meditation and mindfulness guided by a Tibetan Buddhist nun. It allows one to connect to the wild without, and within.
This is Athenkosi’s experience of the trail in his own words…
Walking by the Umfolozi River was a really special opportunity. It is known as the oldest sacred area in South Africa for many people and one of the most beautiful and powerful places.
For me to be by the Umfolozi River, it was so amazing and I felt very special to be there. Umfolozi is a very exciting place but it can also be a scary place for some people. Umfolozi has got so many different animals that are living in the bushes. Some are dangerous, like crocodiles and lions.
I felt so blessed because I had always wanted to see wild animals, especially the big five. We walked and lived in the breathtaking wilderness attuning ourselves to the rythymns of nature.
We were cooking around the fire, walking on animal trails, and sleeping under the stars. During the day it was very hot but at night it was very cold. By the river there was no real comfortable place to sleep. At night it is scary because it became so dark everyone had their own torch. The part that scared me the most was the night watch which is a duty where each person has an hour and a half to look all around while the others are sleeping.
During the night wild animals were making different scary sounds, for example rhinos, buffalo, lions and the frogs by the river. Sometimes the sounds we were hearing were so close and some were far from where we were camped.
Each morning after breakfast we were taking a walk looking at the beauty of nature. Everyone was so happy to be in the Umfolozi because that place is very different, it is the place of peace, it is so quiet. Ani Tsondru guided meditations, helping us reconnect with our own deeper nature. She offered us tools that empower us to bring back home the peace and joy we discover in nature, and live it everyday.
Our last day was so emotional because it was so hard to leave that amazing place that is full of peace. Everything that I was able to experience at the Umfolozi River will always be in my heart and in my mind for the rest of my life.
I would like to thank the Earthchild Hiking Club for giving me such a big opportunity. Now I’m a better person in my life and I’m so proud of myself. Thank you very much, I will never forget.
Find out more about our Alumni Programme
R1,000 provides others like Athenkosi with monthly hikes and leadership training for a year.Step-Up for Future Leaders