Ulovane Update: November 2017 Newsletter
Welcome to the November Ulovane Update.
November is always a tough month! The end of the year is in sight and everyone is trying to finish off the year. This is the time when focus and calmness are needed. I have to say we pulled it off and I am so proud of our team and the students. The pressure was on and hot this month and we made it through stronger and wiser than ever. A huge thank you must go to the Ulovane team, for working together and supporting each other all the way. Again it shows how important it is to work together and care for your team members.
Our mates from Savannah guides joined us for the month! What an absolute pleasure to have these 3 ladies join us. They were kept very busy and loved every moment. Below you can read more about their adventures! It was wonderful to make new connections and family and we look forward to working together to grow the Savannah guides and Ulovane relationship.
The Field guides hosted their very first dinner this month and we had 23 guests! Wow did the field guides impress. Amazing setup, delish food and perfect hosts. It is not easy to do this all alone on your first try, but they pulled it off and impressed us all. Well done!
The last two weekends were all about game drive assessments! We always invite locals from the surrounding areas to be our guests. The students deal with their bookings and chat with their guests direct and organise everything from the get-go. Proud of the fantastic feedback we received from many of the guests that came through. It was madness, it was chaos, but when those guests stepped into the campus doors, it was calm it was collected, it was exceptional guides at their best. Huge congrats to you all, we are very proud of you!
The July Trails guide course came to an end, it was a small group, but a successful one! All 3 have stayed on for the Marine guide course, which started this month. They have been joined by Bettina, who is a return Ulovane student from 2010!! More news on the Marine adventures below……
Enjoy the news from the staff and students, as always lots of interesting updates and amazing photos!
News from the Field Guides
Week 5: Five weeks ago I arrived in South Africa not knowing what to expect, not knowing who I would meet and not knowing what memories I would make. Five weeks on, we are halfway through the course, having made lifelong friends and learnt more than I could ever have imagined.
We have completed modules in geology, astronomy, botany and more and my knowledge has expanded so far in these subjects. However, above all, the biggest lesson I have learnt is that of friendship, without the precious relationships we make with others, our experiences and knowledge are meaningless.
This halfway point presented us with the challenge of surviving 24 hours alone in the bush. It was a chance to reflect on what we have learnt regarding nature and connect these thoughts directly with our surroundings.
The remaining weeks of the course will bring new struggles, challenges and chance for development; all of which will be supported by the strong friendships we have made. – Stephanie Rowe
Week 6: This week has been superb; mammals and birds were the focus. As with every week, we have covered a lot of work but each week presents new challenges and information so it kept us interested and fascinated. From bird walks in the morning and lectures in the afternoon to full day drives this week had it all. The weather played along nicely this week, giving us a great variety of what the Eastern Cape has to offer, allowing us superb sightings. Just around camp, the bird life is thriving so if you sit around, keep quiet and be aware you don’t even have to leave camp to find what you are looking for.
With all the work that has been covered or group has definitely remembered to have fun and keep each other entertained, from supporting one another through tough times to having a dung ambush on the other vehicle. Towards the end of the week, the realisation that our assessment drives are in the next few weeks struck some with excitement and others with nerves. Looking forward to the next few weeks, exciting things happening here!
“Stop every now and then. Just stop and enjoy. Take a deep breath. Relax and take in the abundance of life.” this quote sums up my week. Through all the work and excitement this week. I found it so calming to just sit in a vehicle silently at a river crossing and take in and appreciate what was around us. You really do notice so much more and appreciate all the smaller things around you that you either don’t notice or don’t usually give time to. – Grant & Dieter
“An understanding of the natural world and what’s in it is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfillment” Sir David Attenborough.
These words above couldn’t be more accurate, as we have progressed through the course and now come to the end of week seven, our knowledge and passion has grown drastically each week. This week at Ulovane we have begun to understand the behaviour, ecology and taxonomic classifications of the beautiful creatures that surround us. We can now understand the reasoning and justifications behind the displays of behaviour we see, and it’s truly eye-opening to be part of.
Earlier in the week, we got the opportunity to observe a remembrance service for 3 Rhino who tragically lost their lives to poaching. Despite the sadness and pain surrounding such an event, we found it actually inspiring. Inspiring in a sense to put an end to such devastation, by methods as simple as talking, or liking a post on Facebook. Each one of us has the ability to educate people on important Conservation matters, matters that shouldn’t go unheard.
Amakhala continues to amaze us with its beauty every day. This week we stumbled across a hidden idyllic spot, this particular place was very peaceful, and full of beautiful undisturbed bird life, in its very own enclosed ecosystem. We were fortunate enough to be surrounded by cape weavers and their nests and sat quietly for half an hour taking in its wonder.
During our time here we have been lucky to not only meet our true selves, but also a group of incredible people, all with the same hunger and passion as the next. Our adventure so far, although not always easy, has been inspiring and magical. Our understanding of the natural world has definitely broadened, not only our knowledge and understanding but also highlighted the reasons we joined the Ulovane team in the first place. – Steph Reece and Roy
Week 8: This was assessment week. The week where all our learning, studying and driving practice was to be rolled into the first of our game viewing drives with invited guests. But not before we tested our culinary and hosting skills on Twenty three guests.
So it was on Monday that the roles and responsibilities of the group that had been decided the week before were put to the test. That evening at the duly appointed time a four-course Italian themed dinner was prepared and presented, the like of which none of the students (or staff for that matter) had ever seen or tasted in preceding 7 weeks. A starter of “wild side” carpaccio with Gorgonzola followed by asparagus and chicken risotto was finished off with the all-time favourite of Banoffee Pie (Sicilian I’m told!!) and finally a panoply of Italian cheeses. Stunning performance by the chefs, bar staff, waitrons as well as Grant and Rob who were “invited” to sit with the guests and enjoy the benefits of our endeavours (we made them do the washing up afterwards mind)!!
Therefore having exhausted most of the food at Ulovane, Tuesday and Wednesday were mostly spent in the classroom learning about Conservation and Human Habitation.
And so arrived Thursday where Phil and Colin set the ball rolling with 2 afternoon drives with invited guests from far and wide. And what a beautiful day it was. Sun, no wind and lots of elephants amongst other animals and organisms to test the most ardent minds of guide and guest alike. These drives continued through until Sunday and in all cases, the weather behaved itself which was a definite plus.
Now we all know what we don’t know so will be ready for round two starting in a weeks’ time.
So I leave this week with the following quote which in many ways forms the essence of our being here
“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” – Confucius
News from the Trails Guides
Week 5: And finally some semblance of summer is here!! But it sure made a grand entrance this week, walking in the heat was a big learning experience. The week was packed full with tracking on our walks and awesome encounters with some of the wildlife on the reserve. My favourite track has to be the little frog/toad tracks in mud substrate, they were perfect! 🐾
The week started out with a ‘scenarios’ activity, where back up trails guide skills are tested by the simulation of an animal confrontation. It was amazing to see how all the knowledge we have gathered this far, either came together coherently, or instinct took over in the face of what a real situation would feel like. After that, we had an activity on using our senses, one of us was blindfolded, the other two had earmuffs on, and we had to stalk through the Bush, working together with the ‘senses’ we had available, to find Pieter hidden somewhere in the Bush. The activity was INCREDIBLE and so very valuable on many levels. Being a trails guide needs reliance on your senses as well as teamwork between yourself and your back up. The lessons we learned were invaluable.
Personal growth for myself has been significant this week, it was a long week, but I learned where some of my limits are and better yet, how to approach situations and deal with them with a particular mindset. Can scarcely believe we only have 2 weeks left! Time has gone way too quickly! – Melissa Gomes.
Week 6: Back-up trails course week six! We had our final tracking assessment on Saturday and Sunday, so we spent the week out on the reserve tracking and trailing as many animals as we could. We saw and learnt so many new things that one needs to look for when identifying tracks and signs left behind by wildlife. Friday was spent on a theory lecture with Schalk in the classroom, which was very valuable in adding to our practical knowledge of tracks.
We had such an awesome time with the three Savannah guides who are here for the next month, from Australia and New Zealand. Trish and Vicki did an INCREDIBLE job on their assessment, having not known some of the animal names, never mind only having 3 days to learn the tracks they leave behind! They really did exceptionally well!
The assessment was long and hard, taxing both mentally and physically-but we wouldn’t change it for a thing, it was positively challenging and such good fun for all! Us three all achieved a level, so the hard work definitely is paying off. – Rogan
Wrap up of the Trails Guide Course:
It has been the fastest 7 weeks of our lives! So we all knew that on some level we’d grow into different people on Trails, but the growth has been tremendous and it has been exceptionally rewarding. The privilege to experience the bush on foot as opposed to behind the wheel on a game drive vehicle is more often than not an experience that leaves you in awe.
Walking on foot in a big 5 game reserve with the responsibility of guests lives in your hands as well as the well-being of wildlife is different. It tests not only our theoretical knowledge but also the practical application of it and personal capabilities. It’s interesting to see how one subconsciously responds to situations because then you really see how much knowledge has been absorbed, together with your own personal responses.
Trails really confirms the saying “The little things are the big things”. Bush walks don’t have the aim of seeking out encounters with the Big 5 animals as an only focus, vehicle-based guiding allows for plenty of time for that! Being on foot is a privilege and the experiences we have been granted to us by nature. We often were so surprised at how six or seven hours went by in the blink of an eye and we’d looked at nothing but tracks, flowers, insects, trees and even little nests or homes of birds and spiders!
The knowledge Pieter shared with us has been spectacular and given us such a hunger for the beginning of careers in this industry! We do of course have very special sightings with some of the big 5 animals, a memorable few in fact. But the focus for us all is on the small things, those are the gems of nature.
To have been trained and educated in both the Field Guide and Trails courses by Ulovane has been the greatest gift to us. They surpass basic education requirements and ensure we have as wholesome an experience as the team as a whole could possibly offer to us. It’s been a privilege to have learnt through this wonderful place. We’d not hesitate for a second to recommend, and if given the choice all over again. – Rogan
News from the Marine Guides
Week 1: The big blue, how to comprehend the size and magnificence! I am still not sure how to tackle a four-week course about Marine guiding, where to start off! An Exceptional start to the first week of the marine guide course!
Blessed with great weather in the Eastern Cape, allowing us maximum ocean side time.
It was a week filled with fun, laughter and amazing activities! It is not every day that you get to go to the beach, snorkel, swim, identify shells, algae, sponges and plants as well as go on a boat cruise to look at penguins all in one 9 hour day. We were blessed enough to see a couple of pods of bottlenose dolphins as well as common dolphin.
We saw a couple of unidentified, whales showing off their sheer brilliance, making their way back to Antarctic oceans, while we were on the beach being small human and occupied with our own ways.
We ended off the week with a beach walk from Boknes to Dias focusing on different marine environments.
Along the beach it was delightful, to be able to add a bit of conservation to the world’s health. Picking up a lot of plastic and litter on the beach, in the hope that every little bit helps in the long run so that future generations can enjoy our beautiful marine environments that we are so blessed with. – Roelof
Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean. Ryunosuke Satoro
News from the Savannah Guides
First Two weeks…..
It’s only been a week and a half, but I love it! Hi, I’m Vicki. I’m here at Ulovane on a special program organised by a professional guiding organisation in Australia – Savannah Guides. We participate in four weeks of Ulovane training, sampling the various courses being offered at the time – Field Guide, Tracking and Trailing, Marine and Bird specialisations. We don’t come out with a certificate in any of these but we get to experience the style of training and gain more intimate knowledge of the natural environment.
I see the trainees cramming on certain subjects each week – they study, they stress a little (as you do when you care!) but they all pull through and the change from before to after with their knowledge is amazing. I’m sure they don’t see it but as a bystander it’s obvious. What they are learning in a short period of time is phenomenal and you can put that down to the concentrated learning environment, surrounded by people who are all interested in the same thing, very knowledgeable trainers, a good mix of practical learning and lectures and the relaxed atmosphere created here on ‘campus’.
We experienced a bit of this cramming last week when we undertook just three days of training in tracking followed by a two-day Cybertracker exam. Amazingly both Trish (my co-Savannah Guide here) and I scored above 60% – pretty amazing considering I’d never seen antelope, elephant or lion footprints before!
Looking back to what I know in Australia, there are similarities with our Savannah Guides Field Schools – concentrated learning environment, like-minded professional guides and specialists imparting some of their vast knowledge. Although our field schools are much shorter than 10 weeks (only 4 days), the outcome will surely be the same at Ulovane – everyone comes away as friends and there is a lifelong camaraderie that you share. This is something that these trainees would not have thought of going into their course and won’t realise the value of until they start work in the industry. I am a huge advocate for professionalism in work and training so find it an honour to see this Ulovane training first hand.
The animal experiences here have been absolutely fabulous with game drives every day (except the really rainy days!). The things we have seen have been very special. Young cheetahs chasing zebra, a baby giraffe trying to drink, tortoises everywhere (which apparently means rain!) including a very tiny one hiding under a shrub, birds that sound like our Australian birds but look completely different, widow birds with their long tails dragging them down, trailing gemsbok on foot, and just generally learning about foreign (to me) animals and their behaviour. It’s so exciting! I can’t wait for next week! – Vicki Jones, Owner Operator, Red Dirt Tours, Australia
One month gone too quickly…..
The last two weeks of our time at Ulovane concentrated on learning new skills and participating in activities relating to the marine environment and birding
Highlights from our week in the marine environment with Shani entailed a Raggy Charters boat ride out from Port Elizabeth to find the whales, dolphins and little African penguins, a trip over to Sardinia Bay for some snorkelling and also a visit to Kenton on Sea to check out some marine life and some more snorkelling. An action-packed week also included a return hike along the beach to Diaz Cross at Boknes which gave us girls an exfoliating experience with super strong winds blasting any exposed skin and providing a high degree of resistance training walking the return trip into a very strong headwind.
Pieter learned a lot from us girls this week in regards to birding this week when he thought he was going to be the one teaching us. Along with the many species we collectively spotted in different locations, we managed to come up with 5 new species for Pieter. ‘Sullivan’ the Land Cruiser transported us to check the birds out in seaside, estuary, game reserve and forest bios. The locations we visited were Amakhala, the Assegai Trails Reserve, Woody Cape and Intaka Lodge. Each different location presented a vast array of different bird species and we would have to say the highlight for us this week would have been our ride in Sullivan to and from the Assegai Trails Reserve. Cruising the open roads in an open vehicle took 10 years off our lives via facelifts with the winds and removed any traces of face wrinkles! So now that we are feeling younger, exfoliated and energised, we are ready to take on the next adventures now our time at Ulovane has come to an end.
The biggest thank you to Candice, Schalk and the Ulovane crew who were extremely generous with their time and provided us with outstanding hospitality and made our once in a lifetime African experience and Trish’s 40th birthday extremely exciting, rewarding and memorable! Thank you xxx – Jacqui, Vicki and Trish.
News from the Ulovane Team
One of the important aspects of being a guide is public speaking! The team helps them prepare with these tips. Even I find them super helpful! Thank you Shani!!
While many of us do not like to speak in front of people, there are times when we are asked to get up and say a few words about someone or a topic when we have not planned to say anything at all. We are more shocked than anyone else. Has this ever happened to you? If this does happen to you, be prepared to rise to the challenge. Below are some tips you can use the next time you are called on to speak.
- React fast and make a decision – Keep in mind you have not been asked to give a speech but to make some impromptu remarks. Hopefully, they have asked you early enough so you can at least jot down a few notes before you speak. If not, pick ONE message or comment and focus on that one main idea. Many times, other ideas may come to you after you start speaking. If this happens, go with the flow and trust your instincts.
- Do not try and memorize what you will say – Trying to memorize will only make you more nervous and you will find yourself thinking more about the words and not about the message.
- Start off strong and with confidence – If you at least plan your opening statement, this will get you started on the right foot. After all, just like with any formal speech, getting started is the most difficult. Plan what your first sentence will be. You may even write this opening line down on your note card and glance at it one more time just before you begin speaking. If you know you have three points or ideas to say, just start off simple by saying, “I would just like to talk about 3 points”. The first point is… the second point is… and so on.
- Decide on your transitions from one point to the other – After you have decided on your opening remark or line, come up with a simple transition statement that takes you to your main point. If you have more than one point to make, you can use a natural transition such as, “My second point is… or my next point is…” etc. Just list on your note card or napkin, if you have to, the main points or ideas. Do not write out the exact words, but just the points you want to mention.
- Maintain eye contact with the audience – This is easier to do if you do not write down all kinds of stuff to read. Look down at your next idea or thought and maintain eye contact with your audience and speak from your heart. Focus on communicating WITH your audience and not speaking AT the crowd.
- Occasionally Throw in an off-the-cuff remark – Because you want your style to be flexible and seem impromptu, trust your instinct and add a few words which just pop into your head. Keep it conversational and think of the audience as a group of your friends.
- Finally, have a good conclusion – Gracefully just state, “And the last point I would like to make is ….”. Once you have made your last point, you can then turn control back to the person who asked you to speak in the first place.
With a little practice, this process will feel more natural to you. Anticipating that you MAY be asked to say a few words should force you to at least think about what you might say if you are asked. Then if you ARE asked, you are better prepared because you anticipated being asked. This is much better than thinking they won’t ask you and they actually do!
Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success. Swami Sivananda
We still have availability for our April, July and October 2018 Intakes. Please contact us for rates and dates.
So the final push to the end of the year is on, for everyone! Work together, support each other (family and work colleagues), be patient and most of all be kind!
Thank you for taking the time to enjoy our updates. Any positive feedback or comments are always welcome. Huge thank you as always to all the students and staff for their stunning photos and updates.
Until Next Time,
Candice and the Ulovane Team
Education is the key to success in life, and teachers make a lasting impact in the lives of their students. Solomon Ortiz