Ulovane update: Field Guides Week 5
Week five marks the half way point of our FGASA Field Guide journey with this week’s focus being on Botany – Trees, Shrubs and Flowers. Since arriving at Ulovane, we haven’t stopped learning and what better place than to learn than in the middle of the Eastern Cape bush.
From medicinal uses for plants & flowers, traditional uses of trees and the anatomy of plants and grasses, this week has been one of the most intense. With the majority of us not appreciating plants and their uses in our day to day lives, there is so much to learn and know.
Plants form the basis of all ecosystems on Earth, from providing oxygen for us to breathe, homes for insects or food for the antelope/zebra etc. they are crucial for life on Earth. As well as having many uses such as tool construction and furniture from the common spike thorn, a toothbrush from the common guarri or using puzzlebush to protect your hut from hail stones.
We finally got rain! We don’t usually associate the African summer with rain, but the Eastern Cape is in desperate need. What better week to receive a heavy thunderstorm than this week watching all the plants turn a brighter shade of green.
This week we did a number of bush walks on Ulovane to I.D. trees such as the white milkwood or the common guarri which made a change to the game drives, being able to walk through nature and appreciate the smaller things such as the flowers, the insects that pollinate them and even try and track Bruno (the camp dog) through the mud.
The highlight of the week was being let loose in the bush to find materials to make our own bow and arrow. This was more challenging than expected due to trying to select the perfect wood for the job – Wild olive wood is too hard for a bow but perfect for the arrows and the Karoo Boer-bean is perfect for the bow, with the right amount of flex and rigidity. It was a great laugh trying to make the string out of – mother in laws tongue, as we all suck! I’m not sure how the local people used to manage it.
During the afternoon game drive on Thursday one group had an awesome sighting with a cheetah and its fresh kill. It was a bit nerve racking following the radio procedures and calling it in, but none the less we handled the situation and soon to follow were many eager guides and tourists. The second group later followed up with an even better sighting of the male and three cubs chasing two female kudu practicing their hunting skills – although they never really stood a chance of catching them.
- Paul and Josh 🙂
Believe in yourself, your abilities and your own potential. Never let self-doubt hold you captive. You are worthy of all that you dream of and hope for. – Roy Bennett
Ulovane Update: Trails Guides Week 5
Another week has passed here at Ulovane and time is slipping away too quickly, our back-up trails course already only has two weeks left! Week 5 consisted of a lot of walking, which was challenging but very eventful.
On Wednesday we packed our bags to head out onto Amakhala Game Reserve for our 2 days walk/ sleep out. It was a very exciting night of sleeping under the stars and waking up to the sound of the birds, hoping a jackal hadn’t taken out breakfast. It was physically a difficult couple of days as we walked all day in intense heat and only slept for 3-5 hours (for those of us that were lucky enough) before we started walking again for a full day of walking through the valleys. Although it was tiring, I think everyone really enjoyed the sleep out.
Being out there in the middle of that big reserve sleeping in pitch darkness really makes you respect nature and all the animals within it. It makes you feel very vulnerable, but this feeling comes with a great reward when you get back to warm showers and comfortable beds back at camp. I personally felt both relieved and sad that we could only sleep out there for one night.
As the trails students, we are starting to respect this course more and more as we realize each day the seriousness of it. This week we started walking upfront while our instructors walked at the back. This puts huge mental strain on one’s mind and heightens the senses a lot. You are in charge of keeping everyone safe, if anything goes wrong it will be on your hands. Because of this, the trails team is extremely focused on succeeding in all areas of the course.
We have had some amazing moments during this course and week 5 only added more. Let’s hope week 6 and 7 will not let us down, but I personal don’t think that is possible.
- Tobias Holl
Stars bring beauty and light in the darkness. Instead of succumbing to the darkness of the world, be one of the radiant stars that shines their bright inner light. As we inspire others to be stars, we can light up the night sky with our intentional beams of star light. – unknown