Ulovane Update: April 2017 Newsletter
Welcome to the April Ulovane Update.
What a great start to the month of April! We welcomed 22 students to Ulovane Campus. 12 Field guides, from SA, UK, Netherlands and Germany, all keen and eager to get started. 10 Back-up Trails guides, those that had just successfully completed their field guide qualification, as well as a student from 2013. The trails guides arrived refreshed and excited about the trails guide challenges that awaited them.
It is wonderful to have a campus full of excited bush babies. Yes, it has been a busy month for all especially the field guides, getting to grips with life at Ulovane and getting to know each other and of course hitting the books hard, to fill those enquiring minds with loads of wildlife and nature information. We are already into week four and so much knowledge and skills has been consumed by everyone, the atmosphere is electric!
They all have plenty of updates for you and amazing photos, we hope you enjoy!
‘The ultimate dream in life is to be able to do what you love and learn something from it’. Jennifer Love Hewitt.
News from the Field Guides
Week 1: Well what can I say, it’s the most amazing place and there are some beautiful views. After being here and completing the first week, I now feel settled into family life here. The first week has been very intense with a lot of work to complete and meeting what I’m sure to be lifelong friends.
We went on a game drive the first morning and were lucky enough to see a cheetah with her cubs and an elephant grazing the trees.
We’ve completed the first aid course successfully, after spending 3 days doing practical and theory learning, we’ve had a lot of laughs and all come away from it having learned a valuable new set of skills.
As hard as it has been I’m loving the experience so far and can’t wait to get back out and do more drives and see more animals, this is truly the way that nature should be seen! – Clare Hancock, UK
Week 2: From studying to Elephant being 3 metres away from you whilst on the tracker seat, yep that’s Ulovane for you, lectures, walks and game drives await anybody who decides to embark on the epic journey to being a field guide, among the many things to do here, stargazing and touch rugby at Sidbury sports club are also a key part of the life here.
Today (Saturday, 22 April 2017) was earth day and we field guys celebrated by taking labels off all glass bottles( I know… fun isn’t it??) however we all have to do our part to help the environment so before you throw anything away in future rather think about how it could be recycled. – Dylan Webb, SA
Week 3: Last Tuesday, we had the chance to be part of the game count of Amakhala Game Reserve. I felt extremely lucky to be part of it as it only happens once a year. The day started with an incredible sunrise at god’s window on Amakhala. Wow, it was breath-taking and such an incredible way to start the day, we all took some amazing photos. We had to go through all the roads, make sure we had eyes everywhere for all the animals. That’s a real team work and I liked being part of it. Another spot that really stood out for me was our “Baby Canyon”, a stunning place where you can have a great idea of Amakhala’ s geology. – Philippine Krall, Germany
‘Earth Day should encourage us to reflect on what we are doing to make our planet a more sustainable and liveable place.’ Scott Peters
News from the Trails Guides
Week 1: Having been at Ulovane before doing the field guides course, coming back for trails felt like being back home. However, for the new field guides, that familiar feeling of unknowing was inscribed on their faces. Arriving in a new place that will be your home for 10 weeks will do that to you. This has changed very quickly, for it feels like they have been long friends.
Meeting up with my old field guide friends (the bois’… and one lovely lady) was an emotional affair. This did not last long, however, for we were all thrown into rifle training the next day. We are now all firing live ammunition (exciting isn’t it?) and Piet (The Commander) is as intimidating and soft-hearted anyone could be (please don’t tell him I said that). Everyone in camp knows when we are practising, for all of a sudden we are actually allowed to shout. (Lion charge practice). This has been a source of great entertainment, through all of the frights and ball raises. I feel sorry for any lion or animal (killer shrews included) that happens to charge us. Especially if it charges Jenny!! The quietest person and yet the most intimidating scream. I guess she just let out all her frustration about having to deal with rowdy boys on the lion. Poor lion…
To sum it up; if this is only the first week, myself and everyone else is in for a treat and an experience that no one will forget unless Piet knocks me out. – Toby Muller, SA
Week 2: This week has been awesome, started off with most of us passing our advanced rifle handling. We then moved on to our first walks and really learned how fragile we are out there with great sightings of elephant, rhino and buffalo! This week has really put things into perspective for us all. We are all now looking forward to some great weeks ahead. – Seamus Kay, SA
Week 3: The week started with another awesome walk where we encountered dagga boy and learnt from Piet how to enter and exit a dangerous game sighting safely and ethically. Time back at camp was spent conducting dangerous game simulations and we were privileged enough to see from Schalk Pretorius and Shani Preller how it really should be done. The highlight of the week was a magical 6-hour encounter with the herd of elephant – we lived in their shoes, as they were busy eating we enjoyed our sandwiches and we took to the shade and had a nap as soon as they did. Towards the end of the week, the Trails group took on the Field Guides in an intense rugby derby, and thrashed them! All in all another great week on the Trails side. – Jenny and Chris, SA
News from the Ulovane Team
The end of 3 weeks…ALREADY?!?!
I am not sure how this is possible, but we have come to the end of our third week of the new trails guide course. I know they say time flies when you are having fun, but this is just insane.
It seems like yesterday the backup trails students joined us back at camp after a two-week break, bright-eyed and full of expectations. Most of them had never handled any firearms before, which made the first week and a half a very unfamiliar experience for the majority. With the PFTC and the ARH sections of our course falling back-to-back the students created and increased their skills in firearm manipulations, ending with a fantastic 6/10 passes on the FGASA ARH practical assessment, with a few nail biter potentials not falling far from the mark. It is always amazing for me to see how people pick up a new skillset, and with just enough time and repetition can become so fluent and comfortable with something that in the near past was something they thought was an impossible feat.
With the shooting done and dusted it was time to get on foot and experience the bush in a way they have never done before. We have been blessed with incredible sightings of elephants and buffalo…One, in particular, stands out for me and that was the day we followed the elephant herd for 3-4 hours…that was after we tracked them down for 3-4 hours, but still, it made the sighting even that more special. Sitting on a ledge overlooking the herd a mere 20 meter away from you is just an amazing experience. During the first few walks, the backup guides are starting to learn how to tune themselves into the bush and how to manage such a dangerous activity in the safest possible way. With much learnt and more still to come.
With lots to prepare for on the tracking side of things we’ve been looking at as many tracks as we can find, and so far we’ve come across some really special tracks, big and small alike.
With only 4 more weeks to go the time is going to disappear even faster, with events such as tracking assessments, jungle lane and more extensive walking to come it is definitely going to make a very interesting four weeks. All the best to the students and remember, treat the bush with respect and the bush will return in kind. – Pieter Dunn
Sighting of the week
Some of the best parts of training happens when we encounter magical sightings like this. This is when you realise that no matter where one comes from or what nationality we are, we are all are connected to this captivating way in which nature connects us all together. We all may share very different jobs to one another and run a busy routine to work and back, but the moment we see that WOW factor out in the bush, we all simultaneously hit the pause button to enjoy it to the fullest. This is exactly what we did during this sighting, to just enjoy and take it all in. – Justin Barlow
Eastern Cape FGASA news
Thank you to Chris Reynecke who has been the FGASA Eastern Cape representative for the past 4 years. Chris has gone out of his way to create a network between guides as well as being the driving force to assist in uplifting the stature of guiding in the Eastern Cape. Chris has been the FGASA Regional Chairman during a period of rapid growth in the tourism guiding industry with around 200 active FGASA guides currently in the Eastern Cape. Farewell Chris and all the best for your future plans.
As the newly elected FGASA Eastern Cape representative, I hope to continue to Chris’s great work and grow the Eastern Cape industry to even newer heights. I have been active in the Eastern Cape guiding and training industry for the past 12 years and will continue to assist in uplifting the stature and standards of guiding in the Eastern Cape.
The Ulovane Team and students would like to congratulate Schalk on his election as the new FGASA Eastern Cape Regional Chairman. We are 100% behind you and will continue to assist you in growing the knowledge and skills of guides in the Eastern Cape!
Any existing FGASA guides needing assessments for any qualifications. Please contact us, we will always make a plan to assist you firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.’ – Mattie Stepanek
How my life changed after doing the course at Ulovane? In every way imaginable!
I did my FGASA Field Guide course in September of 2015 with the impression that I was just going to do the 3 months and return to Portugal to continue my life as a Biologist. WRONG! After completing the Field Guide qualification I knew I couldn’t go back. I finally found what makes me happy and therefore signed up to the trails and marine courses (As so many “just Level 1” students do).
In September 2016 I was back in South Africa with a mission – to find a job in the guiding industry enabling me to embrace my passion. Shortly after I arrived, with the help of Candice (thank you so much) I found a job…. on Amakhala at Reed Valley Bush Lodge, what more can I ask for? I had to pinch myself, I’m now working in the place where I trained in the area I love with the people I love!
This is where the fun began, being a ranger at last! The first week was pretty nerve racking, including radio procedures, road names, entertaining guests and driving on tricky terrain. The struggle seemed to be real, but after my first drive with amazing guests, the nerves disappeared. I loved it, the best experience of my life thanks to all I had learnt at Ulovane.
It was only once I started working in this industry that I realised how well Ulovane had prepared me for the guiding industry. Even better, a job at Amakhala means I can go back “home” to Ulovane once a week for a catch-up and a few beers of course. Now after 8 months of working at Amakhala I couldn’t be more thankful to the Ulovane Team who have literally changed my life and helped me get to where I am today.
I have also met an incredible guy who also did his training at Ulovane, does life get any better?!
You can follow vera and her adventures on Instagram – @veracastro_photography Or her and Sam @africaliving. They are sharing the most amazing photos and adventures!
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 for their stunning photos and updates.
Applications for July and October Intakes for the longer courses are open and space is limited!!
Until Next Time,
Candice and the Ulovane Team
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as the sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of autumn.” – John Muir