Life as a trainee Trails Guide: On foot and ready explore, learn and focus!
Ulovane update: With our Advanced Rifle Handle qualifications under our belts we were looking forward to getting out into the bush, in amongst the all the animals. We set out early Monday morning, with one group walking with Pieter and the others with Shani. Pieter’s group (the boys) had a close encounter with a group of elephant a few hours into their walk. The others had a chance to see buffalo on their way to the picturesque ‘Blue Lagoon’.
Tuesday was to be more eventful for both groups, with the boys getting up close with some lions for the first time. Needless to say adrenalin levels were high at that point. We then made our way to the waterfall when we came across a very large road block. We preceded back the way we came and took refuge in a Wild Olive tree and waited for him to pass by. The wind, however, was not in our favour. He cautiously made his way towards us but decided to bypass the tree at the very last minute. Not 15 minutes later we stumbled upon him again and were lucky enough to have a good sighting of the big bull.
Shani’s group made their way down to ‘Ranger’s Deck’ and saw three hippos taking it easy in the water, as the so often do. On our way back we had another good buffalo sighting about 15 metres from us, and spent a few minutes watching them graze.
Unfortunately, neither of the groups walked on Wednesday because they were burning on Kariega and it was deemed too dangerous to walk. Instead, those few that did not yet have their ARH spent the morning on the shooting range. Others spent the day completing work books and preparing for Sunday’s exam.
On Thursday we swapped groups, so it was the boys turn to walk with Shani and the girls with Pieter. It was now the girls’ turn to test their courage when they came across the young male lion sleeping at a small watering hole. Catching him a little by surprise, he gave us a growl and showed off his gigantic teeth. Anabelle had to lead us out of the sighting to safety while Pieter defused the situation.
The boys had an awesome walk to ‘Blue Lagoon’ and had an amazing sighting of a plain full of wildebeest, zebra and impala. We were also lucky enough to get really close to a giraffe, who appeared to be very curious about our presence.
Friday’s weather was, to everyone’s disappointment, not conducive to a bush walk. Instead we all head out to test our tracking skills, before the weather got too bad. The tracking assessment was really interesting, having to identify wildebeest, water mongoose, a baby blesbok and a domestic cat’s spoor. It’s safe to say everyone learnt a huge amount and really enjoyed the experience. We spent the rest of the weekend doing some more tracking in the class room and preparing for our exam on Sunday. Everyone really enjoyed their first week of walking, despite the numerous tick bites, sore feet and stiff legs. Thanks again to Pieter and Shani for a great week!
- Reinhardt and Adel
There is no other door to knowledge than the door nature opens; there is no truth except the truths we discover in nature. Luther Burbank