Life as a trainee Trails Guide: Tracking delight!
Week six is over, our final week of practical training! It’s crazy how quick time flies when you are in an environment like this, sharing every day with amazing people and learning so much, that your brain sometimes just goes “What has happened to my life?”. But let’s start at the beginning.
Monday morning started with a nice sleep in, followed by some practice with the air rifle as some of us were going to have a second attempt on ARH by the end of the week. Tins were set up, highlighters stuck into bamboo stumps and off we went – Air rifle shooting at a higher level! It is weird going back to such a rifle after shooting a .375, most of us tried to rechamber rounds, without success as you can imagine 😉
After lunch Louis Liebenberg arrived in Intaka – yes THAT Louis Liebenberg, author of the most common Tracking books! And off we went onto Kariega, starting our tracking assessment.
Even though we all felt quite confident about tracking, suddenly Yellow Mongoose tracks looked like genet tracks, baboon tracks were thought to be Louis and Piet trying to trick us by pressing their fingers into the mud – crazy but true: Baboons, as well as Monkeys, have fingerprints that look as if someone has tried to press his thumb into the soil next to each other! I couldn’t believe it! But then we saw baboons running over the road and I got first-hand evidence that it really was baboons!
A Cape Clawless Otter was recognized as a Vervet monkey – however, Chris our master tracker did identify it for what it was. Sad enough for him, the question was ranked as a practice, because the rest of us was not as brilliant as he was – sorry again man!
Tracking days are always a lot of fun, but tiring as well. A lot of waiting is involved in the process of finding and identifying tracks. Of course, we managed to overcome these breaks with pure awesomeness and a lot of selfies!
While we were out on Kariega doing our assessments a group of Australians from Savannah Guides, doing a 4 Week Nature Experience Ulovane course, were practicing their tracking on Amakhala. In the evenings we all got together, played pool and talked about the tracks we saw, and what mistakes we did with them – there are always stupid mistakes made 😉
Wednesday was the last day and we got our certificates – a good group consistency of level 2 trackers! All of our hearts now beat for tracking and Ulovane will get us back in some way or the other for tracking courses and more tracking fun!
Thursday was our recovery day after a little bit of a “we passed tracking” Party – there always is a reason for a party! 😉 However not all of it was relaxed recovery, as I said some of us were going for a second ARH assessment, so we got the rifles and started practicing in the squash quart – everyday things in a life of a Trails guide! Then finally Friday we were off to the shooting range. Congratulations to Ash and Corlia for passing their assessments, good job girls! For everyone out there saying women shouldn’t be handling firearms or aren’t made for this job – you people should have seen these two ladies taking the assessment apart like a piece of cake!
Saturday evening the Australians put up a nice little show with guitars and singing for all of us in the living room. Looking around the nice, cozy room with a fire going on in the fireplace, I felt like we were a family, different generations all sitting together and enjoying the evening, people singing along silently and sometimes a bit too loudly 😉
So another week of crazy trails guide stuff is over, just another week left and we will all be scattered around the globe again – some stay for marine, some will start working, some will travel the world and some will just go home and try to cope with the “real life”. For me this is my last week in South Africa, I don’t know when I’ll be back, but I know I definitely will be back someday! I would like to thank every single person in our group for making the last 4 ½ months the most amazing time of my life, I want to thank Paul and Retha for making us a home here at Intaka –providing us with the most amazing food and so much love that I can barely imagine a life without the two of you, and last but most definitely not least, I want to thank Candice and Schalk for building up such an amazing training program, employing crazy good facilitators (Shani & Piet – you two will always have a spot in my heart, thank you for absolutely everything!) and supporting all of us in achieving our goals and making our dreams come true. The last 4 ½ months have shown me what life is about, has enforced my love for Africa and the African bush and has taught me so much about myself.
- Debbie Knorr
“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.” – Seth Godin