Ulovane Update December 2017

22 Dec

Ulovane Update: December 2017 Newsletter

Welcome to the final Ulovane Update for 2017.

What an incredible year it has been!! Hopefully you have been able to keep up with our monthly newsletters. We have been blessed with many students, an amazing team, incredible wildlife sightings and pure blissful nature experiences.

The last two weeks we wrapped up with the Marine and Field Guide courses, said our farewells and thank you to all involved! Both final graduations were very special, there were tears, there was laughter, and there was love – what more do you need!

Huge thank you again to all involved in making 2017 a huge success, we appreciate every single one of you!

Enjoy the news from the staff and students, as always exceptional updates and outstanding photos! This one below is one of my favourites from 2017…..

News from the Field Guides

Week 9: Week 9 and it’s almost over. All of our assessment drives are done and all of us has passed that practical part of the assessment. Finally the nerves of the last 2 weeks are gone and we can all focus on the final exam that is looming in the near future (on Friday).

During our drives we were able to use our new skills and knowledge whilst educating and entertaining our guests. The animal sightings we had along the way just made it that much more enjoyable for our guests and thus easier for us.

This past week we were also taught the conservation side of being a nature guide. We worked hard and it paid off as we all could drive on a more comfortable road and explain how we dealt with invasive and encroaching species of plants.

At the end of the week we had to say goodbye to our new friends from Down Under and the Land of The Long White Cloud. They joined us for 4 weeks we had a lot of fun during that time. Glad they could join us as we learnt some valuable tips and they gave us some great advice.

Last week of the course is both looking exciting and sad, exciting because we are almost qualified and sad because it is almost over. Time to make the best of the last week! – Dieter Rabe

Week 10: So we have come to the end of our 10 weeks here at Ulovane. In this last week we have visited Addo Elephant National Park and had a day out fishing. We have been studying a lot for our final FGASA exam, and making the most of our final days together. We have all made long lasting friendships that have changed us in the best ways, growing as a group and as individuals. 10 weeks looks like a long time on paper, but it just flies by when you’re learning and experiencing so many new things. Amakhala Game Reserve provided an incredible classroom for us, along with a dedicated and compassionate team of staff who brought out the best in all of us. We all wholeheartedly thank you for your time and knowledge, and hope to always be known to you as long life friends. – Jill & Rosie

Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later. Og Mandino

News from the Marine Guides

Week 2: The second week of the marine course consisted mostly of a beach trip to the Knysna area. We stayed in a beach house in Brenton on Sea for 5 days. Although we learned a lot while there, it felt more like going on a beach vacation!

While in Brenton, we took beach walks in the area, did some algae and shell identification in the rock pools (and even got a very close look at an octopus, who, among other things, tried stealing our go-pro!), got some good fishing time (and even took home some dinner from that!), had beach braais and went surfing. One of the highlights was definitely a trip to the Robberg Marine Reserve. It is a beautiful peninsula where we had a good walk and saw some fur seals and Kelp Gulls nesting! Loving the ocean living! – Bettina

Week 3: Our second last week at Ulovane as students has been no different than any week in regards to pace of training. We had lectures for the first two days straight, then fun and games exploring. We explored the Bushman’s river for about 4km in canoes – AMAZING. This was a good lesson for us in learning to adapt guided experiences to suit the current weather conditions, the original trip was supposed to be a 13 km trip one way down the river to spend the night in a rustic hut, but to row back the next morning into 60 km/hr wind gusts was not going to be an easy obstacle, just about impossible! We enjoyed our 4km though and had some awesome birding!

We spent the rest of the week exploring beaches,  around Kenton-on-Sea and Cannon Rocks a wonderful morning alone of ‘me time’ to reflect on the last 6 months and what we’ve learnt, places we’ve been to, memories and lifelong lessons. We had a practice field observation which was a great indication of where we were in our studies and what needed focusing on.

On Friday we took a walk to the beach that we’ll be doing our final assessment walks on next week with some school children; very excited for that! We had a swim in a freezing cold rock pool, but it was good fun and more than refreshing!! Ending the week off on the field guides graduation on Friday evening, so we had a wonderful Christmas themed graduation with some Ulovane alumni from neighbouring reserves. Now for the final push! – Rogan Kiley

Week 4 and 6 month wrap up: The end of an incredible 6 month journey has arrived faster than one could ever have imagined!

Having been at Ulovane whilst the other marine students were on their course meant that we heard  from them as well as some of the instructors what a challenge marines is, but…. we didn’t  realise the depth  of the meaning of that  statement  until  we were on the other side  of the books!! The marine guiding course requires the same amount of work as the 10 week field guide course, to be done in 4 weeks! Having said that, for myself it has absolutely been the most rewarding experience.

The ocean offers a brand new world, and in the words of Shani in our first week of marines, “The Ocean is a 3 dimensional place, alive in so many ways!” To put it in to perspective, the oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth’s surface and contain 97 percent of the Earth’s water.

I’ll never forget our first trip to the beach when Shani asked us whether or not we thought what we were looking at was a plant or an animal! Being able to learn about the oceans and the effect they have on so much on the land we live on is an eye opener. It has been particularly rewarding for me because having grown up in a land locked country, I have never spent much time at the sea; everything we learnt on this course however has completely sunk in and stuck like glue. I loved and cherished every second of this course.

Ulovane  has, once again,  ensured for a completely  wholesome learning experience  and because of this, we feel so well equipped  to begin our careers  with vigour  and excitement at the prospect of the impact we can have on preserving our planet and making sure that we’re  the ambassadors for ensuring there are still furry ridged triton and cape keyhole  limpet sea creatures still alive in the next 30,40,50 years!

To Candice & Schalk, words will never suffice to deliver the amount of gratitude I and so many others feel for what you do at Ulovane, “the home away from home-for real!”

Thank you for the love, guidance, support, ethics, morals and outstanding values that are always central to everything you teach us.

To all the instructors, Shani, Pieter & Justin – we wouldn’t have graduated without what you have done for us. You deal with the grumpy, tired, short fused, happy, laughing, crying bunch of misfits and you never fail to make us believe in ourselves. I have taken away special  & important  life lessons from each one of you, thank  you for all you have taught us, FGASA related or not!

Jacques, thank you for always making light of every situation, no matter how dire we think or feel it is!! Your outlook on life is somewhat inspiring, & from you I have learnt that if you rise above the storm, you will always find the sunshine 🐾🌞

Team Marine & the Savannah Guides

Mama Joyce and Mama Thabs, without you the camp wouldn’t run nearly as smooth as it does, thank you for everything you do for all of us! Thanks to you too Koen for holding things together and always making sure we have hot showers, comfortable rooms and working equipment that’s in operating condition.

Ulovane, it has been the most intense & memorable 6 months of my life. I have loved, lived, laughed, cried and celebrated. Thank you for going above and beyond standard norms.

The lessons from all three courses has given a sturdy base for the start of our guiding careers; the rest is now up to us! The life lessons that came along too were unexpected, but profoundly rewarding and will stick with us for life.

To all my fellow classmates from every course along the way, we have made special friendships in this beautiful place. Bettina, it was so awesome having you join us for the marines, thank you for your input and all you taught us. Roguey and Roelie- there are no words… We went through it all together and the bond we shared is something to treasure. Thank you for absolutely everything!!

Thank you for this reminder Shani: “Your life is your message to the world. Make sure it’s inspiring!”

Kind regards, Melissa Gomes.

In the end, it’s not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away

News from the Ulovane Team

Thank you from Schalk

You might think that we offer field guide training at Ulovane Environmental Training, but recently, while going through the year’s photos, putting together a slide show to celebrate all our different courses during 2017, I discovered that in fact we truthfully offer is a sense of belonging. Belonging to like-minded people and importantly a belonging to our planet, belonging to an environment where you can be yourself and where you can grow and develop as an individual with nature, our planet, as your mentor, belonging to a challenge that is meaningful and real, belonging to a community of people who makes time for and care for the planet we live on as much as we care for each other, belonging to a community of people that does not take for granted the basic needs of life, (shelter, water, food, electricity and waste products), but in fact take these basic needs into consideration with every decision we make, belonging to a community of human beings who tread through life with consideration, respect, ethics and integrity. That is what I saw when looking at all the expressions of 2017’s student photos.

The togetherness on an everyday basis during these nature guide courses in this type of environment, learning, laughing, eating, celebrating, stressing, crying, achieving together, creates relationships that lasts a lifetime. It is so inspiring to hear the stories of some of our previous students, who were not at Ulovane at the same time, meet up somewhere on the planet and straight away their belonging to the same Ulovane family creates instant friendships and understanding. What they talk about when they meet up is most of the time not field guiding, but the conversation revolves around life and the planet.

Making time available to learn and understand more about our interconnected planet brings out the true characteristics and caring nature in us and stimulates an attitude of belonging to an interconnectedness and not only to one’s own aspirations and selfish needs.

I am so privileged to live my life in an environment where I am surrounded by beautiful people. Great thanks go out to the Ulovane team, without you it would just be field guide training. Thank you for going above and beyond what people sign up for when they enrol with Ulovane, it is you who install the values and ethics in each and every student that cross your path, it is you who understand that in order to develop the exceptional nature guides of the future, one firstly need to develop exceptional human beings who appreciate life on this beautiful and only planet we call home.

2017 has been an extraordinary year and we have welcomed 63 new members to the Ulovane family this year. I wish everyone a blessed festive season and enjoy being together with family and good friends. All the best until next year….Schalk

Happy Holidays from Pieter

I can barely believe it, another year has come to an end. As I look back at 2017 I cannot believe how quickly it we nt by. It was a year filled with emotions, from amazing sightings out in nature to the stress of assessments for the students at the end of each course. The Ulovane family grows bigger with each course as students find themselves a home away from home. I want to use the opportunity to thank the whole Ulovane team for all the hard work they have all put in over the last year. Teamwork is such an important factor in having a successful product and without the support off the other staff members nobody will be able to achieve the goals we have during this year. As for all the students that came through the door this year and became part of the family, I want to give a big congratulation to all with their achievements, so many different people from various backgrounds and coming to Ulovane for different reasons. Every one of you has made an impact on us here at camp, and I want to thank you all for giving us the opportunity to be able to do what we do. As for Schalk and Candice, thank you thnk you thank you, for such an amazing opportunity presented to staff and students alike to be able to experience nature with the warmth of family for anybody from all walks of life.

I wish everyone an amazing festive season and that the year to come will exceed your wildest dreams. Life is what we make of it, so I want to urge everyone to really take a step back and reassess their lives, start a new and make 2018 the best year ever.

Giving back to Conservation

Having completed all internal weekly exams and only having the FGASA final exam ahead of the students it was time to rest our brains and engage in a few physical tasks. Our last 2 weeks or as we call it “Conservation week” was all about giving back to Conservation. Tasks included fixing of roads on the reserve (which was a first time for many overseas students using a pick axe), bush clearing along some heavily overgrown frequent roads used by out students on their practical game drives.   Our biggest task yet but certainly the most fulfilling one was being part of the removal of fences from a neighbouring property to introduce more land to the northern side of our reserve.  Last but not least we decided to leave the toughest job till last which was a whole day conduction fish surveys and canoeing on the Bushman’s River.  It was certainly a big highlight as many of our students caught their first few fish while the paddlers were hard at work exploring the beautiful stretch of rive. Happy Holidays everyone! – Justin

2017 has come to end, and it is time to reflect – Shani

I can still remember the day when I arrived in the Eastern Cape – after a very long journey of two days, one of my best friends and I finally turned the corner to Grahamstown to see Schalk’s white bakkie waiting for us on the corner of the road.

It was two days filled with broken vehicles and excitement but also thoughts of “did I make the right decision to move to the Eastern Cape”? A whole lot of mixed emotions filled my mind. But seeing Schalk’s smile when he saw Jock made me feel at ease. The excitement started to take over the “being scared and nervous” feelings. That was 960 days ago.

I must be honest and say that it was not easy in the beginning because I missed my friends and the place I called home, and I still do – I miss tracking in afternoon thunderstorms and watching the lightning colour the skies in beautiful pinks and purples.

 I miss smelling the flowers of the Transvaal beechwood (it smells like butter popcorn) and the call of the grey-go-away bird. I miss driving around on the reserve looking for elephants and spending hours just watching them.

Those are memories I will cherish forever – the people, the places, the good and the bad times. I want to thank all my friends who I think of every day who have always believed in me and pushed me to “do it” “be it” and “make it work”. Know that all of you are always on my mind and I miss you and appreciate all of you! Being away from the place I called home has pushed me to work harder than ever before and to push for the things I believe in more than ever before!

So, back to the day when I arrived – we followed Schalk’s vehicle to the Pick n pay centre in Grahamstown, got a couple of things, and then carried on to Ulovane campus, which would become my new home. The first couple of days were crazy – so many new things to learn and get used to.

 I remember sitting outside on the deck with Schalk and Jock having a much-deserved cold beer on the first evening at Ulovane camp; I asked Schalk questions about the campus, the course, and the students.

 “I would like Ulovane to be completely self-sustainable one day” was one of Schalk’s answers to one of my questions. “You plan your activities according to the weather” was another. “As long as the students succeed and are happy” was another. I was excited to get started and plan amazing courses for the students with awesome activities! I had about a week in camp to learn some roads on the reserve and get everything ready before the students would arrive. Exciting and scary all at the same time!

 That was 960 days ago, and I am still here, in a place I can call home now. You see, I have always been a bit of a “gypsy” in the sense that I could not settle completely, (and perhaps never will). I moved around a lot, which was great, because I saw a lot of places and got to work in some of the most breath-taking areas, as well as meeting superb people. But, you always hope for, and dream about a place which will settle your soul.

Being here, at Ulovane, has taught me that the word “family” has a special meaning. It has taught me that teamwork is so very important. It has opened my eyes to a whole new world – a world which is undiscovered, a world we call planet ocean. It has taught me to appreciate life more and not take anything for granted. It has taught me to love and fight and forgive every single day.

2017 has been a year of learning, believing, faith, growth, tears, fights, love, lost, hope, dreams, laughs and living. 2017 has taught me to not stop fighting for what you believe in and that life is too short and precious to be negative.

Thank you, Candice, and Schalk for allowing me to be part of the Ulovane family and that I can call it home. To all the students and friends out there – I wish you all a great festive season and a blessed 2018. Never stop believing in yourselves and never ever do anything half-heartedly!


Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy. Norman Vincent Peale

The 13th of January is our first Open Day for 2018! Please contact us for details and to RSVP.

We still have availability on our April, July and October 2018 Intakes. Please contact us for rates and dates.

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

For a new year to bring you something new, make a move, like a butterfly tearing its cocoon! Make a move – unknown

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