About

Hi I’m Rach – a freelance writer, blogger and environmental educationist based in Cape Town, South Africa. Born into a family of wildlife lovers, I spent my childhood immersed in nature and developed a love for wild places that has continued to grow for 26 years.

I often find, when reading other people’s blogs, that it’s almost as if we’ve become good friends (even if we’ve never met ). Maybe, if I write well enough, I can be yours too!

Here are 10 things about me…

1. I wanted to be a farmer.

11 year old me: Dad, I’m always going to like cows. I’m going to be a farmer like you.

Dad: [teasing] Well, someday you will also like boys and wear lipstick…

Me: No WAYS! I will NEVER!!! I PROMISE you Dad…

Dad: But It’s not a bad thing Rach, It’s part of growing up.

Me: But I WON’T!!

Dad: Well let’s make a bet!

… About 5 years later I lost the bet
:)

 

Farm girl
This is the dam near our house. Many hours spent fishing (um… untangling lines and hooks from trees and rocks – thank you brother!) and canoeing.
A dairy farm in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands was a pretty awesome place to spend a childhood.

When not skipping school to go on family bush adventures, we (my brother, sister and I) would wake up at 5 o clock every morning to feed our calves. How three of us fit on our now knee-high motorbike is a mystery. I remember my eyes streaming in the frosty morning air as we rode, the humming and swishing sound of milking machines and the friendly morning wave from Fred herding the cows. But my favourite part was stirring the warm powdered milk in big buckets, and letting the calves suck our fingers with their foamy, milky mouths. After school it was off to the hay bales to make forts and catch wild cats. It was a wonderful way to grow up – surrounded by forests, dams, mountains and animals.

Preparing for a cow show is serious business! Some pictures to prove it…

Getting Bella ready for her class
Looking smart in the show ring.

Dad often gave talks to groups of kids – which would include my siblings and farm friends – on showing and judging cows. I remember being very embarrassed when he told the kids that judging cows was very much like judging women, you want them to have long legs and good udders!

2. African travels with the Family

Luckily for me, my family are passionate about traveling Africa. Dad has made it his life goal to visit every reserve in Africa and is doing pretty well so far! He spent a lot of time in Kruger drawing vegetation maps and, as a kid, his room (according to my Gran) was like a museum –  full of nests, insects, snake skins, feathers and stuffed birds (killed in the name of ‘science’, apparently, I try not to think of it.):( Nothing is as wonderful as listening to his campfire stories. Mum is a city girl, but  just as comfy sleeping in a tent. She’s also the best campfire cook in the whole world and keeps us all safe by ‘keeping watch’ for lions in the camp at night.  Beth is happiest riding really fast on her motorbike, her blond hair streaming behind her. She’s the only girl in the family to wear high-heel shoes and she shot a porcupine once. We are very different, but it makes things all the more fun (most of the time!). Caiden is a poet and a fisherman, people thought we were twins when we were little. He recently kayaked around the whole of Lake Malawi, a real adventurer my brother is.

Bush-bound Girl

One of my favourite memories of all time is stripping off  my clothes and leaping wildly into the icy Okavango river in Moremi Game Reserve at the age of 7.

Um…crocodiles? Mum and dad what were you thinking letting us do this!!

Now we don’t have to shower for another two days, yay!

3. Field Guiding

I was SO nervous for my practical guides exam that I thought it would help if I got into character and ‘acted’ like a guide… so I borrowed these awesome veld skoene from one of the guys and put on all my camouflage gear. I was a drama student at school – often people find this surprising as I can be a bit introverted – but it worked! I felt like Joy Adamson, (minus the lions)

In 2010 I did my field guiding qualification. This meant hours spent on foot learning about tracking, birds, trees and animals. In other words, hours spent in my absolute element!

My favorite place to be, in the tracker’s seat!

4. When in doubt, draw a pretty picture!

A typical afternoon scenario when I was a kid…

Mum: How’s your homework going Rach? Are you finished yet? You’ve been working very hard darling … you started at 3 o clock and it’s nearly 5 already…

7 year old me: Nearly finished Mum!

Mum: Can I see?

Me: Ok!  [holding open book]

Mum: But… you haven’t filled in any of the answers to these maths sums Rach…

Me: But do you like the pretty borders I’ve drawn? Look, on this page I’ve done lilac-breasted rollers! And I’ve made these boxes into Landrovers … this one is even rainbow colours!

Mum: um … I think those boxes are where you are suppose to write the answers darling.

Me: But they look pretty don’t they!? Do you know I’ve used every single colour in my pencil case, cool hey?

Mum: Yes Rachie, it looks beautiful… (sigh)

(My amazing, beautiful Mum, always so patient and encouraging!)

Caid and I selling our drawings at the farm gate! I’m not sure who we were hoping would come and buy them as no one but my parents and the farm labourers come along this road, but we were forever hopeful!

5. Owls and elephants 

These are some of my favorite animals and I will probably be writing about them quite a lot…

Pearlspotted owlet, the most gorgeous little thing in the world!

Read about some of my ellie experiences in a blog post that I did for Africa Geographic here

At a waterhole in Hwange, Zimbabwe
IMG_0466
It has been my DREAM to see a Pels Fishing Owl ( No luck yet) We had a documentary video about them as kids which was a real favourite.

6. Closer to heaven

I LOVE climbing trees, it’s something I’ve never grown out of.

Wrapped up in the arms of a big beautiful tree is a great place to get some perspective on life [North Gate, Moremi Game Reserve]
How awesome is this baobab!?

But climbing up is always easier than getting down…

um… are there crocodiles waiting to eat me if I fall?

7. Words

I’ve  always (as soon as I could write I suppose) kept a journal. I’m so grateful because it’s provided such joy when reading back on all the wonderful memories. It’s also made me really appreciate the awesome life that my parents have given me.

Thank you Mum and Dad
:)
Writing with a beautiful view over Hwange National Park in Zim

Here are some little bits taken from diaries of bush holidays (I may as well admit it now – spelling and grammar have never been my strong points!)

Botswana trip (July 1999) I would have been about 12

July 1999

July 1999
July 1999

July 2004

9.  Kids

I am passionate about sharing a love of wildlife with kids, through stories, pictures and hands-on sensory experiences in the wilderness. 

‘If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us give them time to connect with nature and love the earth before we ask them to save it.’ (David Sobel, educationalist and author)

Doing some tracking with my British cousin Daniel at Umngeni Valley Reserve, Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands.
My cousin Jamie in the Kgalagadi National Park
Having fun with kiddies in the Luangwa Valley

10. I love being in contact with other African adventures,

and people who, like me, want to make a difference in our beautiful continent. If you would like to work with me, please send me an email – I’m always on the lookout for story ideas and places to travel to! If you have stories of your own to share, please email them to me: rachielang@gmail.com