Ulovane Update: February 2017 Newsletter
Welcome to the February Ulovane Update.
They say a picture is worth more than a 1000 words! Too true, especially when we look back at how far we have come at Ulovane campus in the last 8 years. Growth and change is inevitable and we have had to adapt and grow with the times. Ulovane campus is really looking amazing. In the last year, we have added extra accommodation section, 4 new rooms which include 4 showers and toilets. These rooms are lovely and spacious and can accommodate up to 3 people each, comfortably. To everyone’s delight we have installed gas geysers in all of our rooms, so no more hoping for sunshine, it is hot water all year round.
The outside lapa has been converted (pictured below) into the chameleon lounge a chill zone with pool table, couches and books. For those times when you just want to relax enjoy a good book or a pool game or two. This enabled us to make more space for dining and lecture purposes in the main lodge area. It is wonderful that we can now all enjoy our meals together. When not being used as a dining room, the extra space is used as a second lecture room when needed. Come see for yourself at one of our Open Days in 2017. We really have one of the top training campuses in SA. The next Open Day is 09 April 2017.
Work on Ulovane reserve is ongoing. The students help out with conservation management where possible and Oom Ben and his team are hard at work every day eradicating blue bush and working on the fence line and roads. Work in the vegetable garden is going great, the Saturday mornings when everyone on campus gets stuck in, really helps. Every bit of love and effort makes a huge difference.
More photos of the campus to follow over the month of March. Huge thank you to everyone involved in making Ulovane not just a campus, but home!
News from the Field Guides
Week 3 – This week the class was focused on botany and biomes. The array of biomes on Amakhala is amazing and the plants have interesting medicinal uses. We had a shocking experience (well one of us) when one of us became too familiar with the electric gate. – Toby
Week 4 – Another busy week, the highlight being our mock tracking assessment – lots of fun but we all realised that we have a lot to learn. We also spent a day at the river catching fish and doing a fish survey. Seeing a puff adder swim has got to be the biggest highlight of this week, who knew that snakes could swim and so beautifully. – Jenny
Week 5 – A crazy and entertaining week. Had amazing game drives on Amakhala Game Reserve and had the privilege of being caught in some of the most stunning thunder storms. The Eastern Cape is looking green and lush after about 50ml of rain and we are loving it! All in all a good week – Mike Kitchen
Week 6 – I know we all say it, but it really was another incredible week at Ulovane! The highlights being the hospitality evening and boat trip down the Bushman’s river, with a picnic thrown in. The focus this week was on birds and the boat trip didn’t disappoint – we enjoyed sightings of African fish eagles, giant and half collared kingfishers and the very cool African darter! It is all happy days really- Seamus
“Successes are those highlights of life we look back on with a smile. But it’s the day to day grind of getting them that defines the laugh lines etched until the end of time. Enjoy each moment along the way” ―Aaron Lauritsen
News from the Trails Guides
Week 3 – Our main focus this week was tracking where we got to see tracks such as Aardvark and Honey badger and learnt various focus points of tracks ranging from beetles, snakes, tortoise, antelope and lion. We had a fantastic sleep out in the bush to end of the week where we came across a beautiful sighting of a tower of giraffe on our way to our camping area for the night. When we arrived at our camping area we all got the camp ready before night approaches where we had to go and chop wood for our fire to prepare food, provide light and keep us entertained throughout each of our watch duties. – Gerhard
Week 4 was by far the nicest week we’ve had! The first part of the week we focused a lot on tracking with Pieter and Shani as the tracking assessment was this weekend. It was a wonderful experience and we learned so much! We even trailed the male lion and came very close (5 meters away) to both the lions and our surprise. Ever heard a lion roar from 5 meters away? I can tell you now, it’s very very loud!
Taryn came this weekend to do our tracking assessment and it was absolutely amazing. I didn’t think I could learn so much about so many tracks in such little time. Loved every single second of it. I think everybody can be very proud of themselves and what they achieved this weekend, I know I am! – Geiske
We have now been on trails for 5 weeks. Looking back to where we were at the start to where we are now, the changes in our mentalities and professionalism is huge. We are slowly but surely becoming one with the bush. Hearing sounds we never heard before. Seeing things we never saw. What we once saw in the soil as marks and scrapes have now become tracks and signs, clues left behind by the big and the small from wasps to elephants. We are now seeing the importance of planning. Considering wind direction, smells, terrain and species. If we thought we knew the bush before trails, we were very wrong. It has been a blast and we all look forward to what’s still to come in our last 2 weeks. – David
Week 6 – So our 7 Week Back-up Trails Guide course at Ulovane is slowly coming to an end. After amazing moments out on the reserve and at camp, it’s time to say goodbye to some friends. Through this course, we have gotten to know each other very well in many ways and it is sad that David and Geiske are leaving. Gerhard, Sam and I will be seeing each other for Marines, so we still have some good times to look forward to.
To Pieter the great instructor and all other instructors that were part of this course, we thank you for teaching us and guiding us through the course giving us your amazing knowledge to ensure that we thrive in the industry. There is only the assessment walks left on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday and then it’s done. Being on foot I can say has changed my outlook on many aspects of life, I may not be ready now to be a trails guide, but I have learnt so much from this experience, that I am definitely more confident about being a field guide. An emotional end for the sad goodbyes, but the friendships made through the course are unforgettable, thank you, Candice and Schalk, for making this possible.
Wishing the Trails Guide’s all the best for their final exams and assessments.
Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” – John Muir
News from the Ulovane Team
Life on Foot
Being on foot in the African bush is one of the most humbling experiences you will ever have according to me. The biggest difference for me between being on foot and being in a vehicle is the fact that you go from a visitor in nature to actually becoming part of nature. You do not have the security of a three-ton cruiser to back you up and get out of the way quickly, you need to rely on your skills and senses to become one with nature and join all the living organisms in the fight for survival.
The privileges of being on foot are endless, and the experiences stay with you for the rest of your life. Having the opportunity to walk out into the untamed bush and becoming part of it is just amazing. Not having the noise of a vehicle engine whilst you are out there truly makes you realise how many sounds nature has to offer. There is so much we miss out there being confined to a vehicle, and being on foot really opens all your senses to a whole other word.
You start seeing, smelling, hearing and even feeling so much more. The feeling of being vulnerable puts the life of all the other animals into perspective and gives you a much greater understanding of what challenges these animals need to face on a day to day base and the moment that understanding gets more you will be amazed how your respect towards nature will change.
Every step you take while out on a bush walk is a decision you make that can either keep you alive or get you into serious trouble, the mental change you need to undergo is astonishing, us as humans have become so dependent on security that we are losing the connection with nature. It is only when you are part of the bigger picture, and gets accepted by nature when you realise there is a lot more to life and that we are separating us from the rest of Mother Nature.
I for one am extremely glad I have made the decision earlier in my life to make walking on foot my lifestyle; it has changed me so much as a person. I have always had a love and respect for nature, but the longer I do this, the more I get accepted as part of what is going on out there, the more I realise I haven’t even scratched the surface of it all.
Every day on foot is a challenge and a privilege, and if you are willing to accept the challenges your life will be filled with the most memorable experiences ever. There is nothing else in the world that will get me to give up the opportunity to get closer to nature and spend every second of every day to be accepted as part of it all.
If you are willing to become part of the true circle of life Mother Nature will allow you in with open arms….have respect for nature and nature will provide you with all you need.
- Pieter Dunn – Trainer
Where are they Now – Ulovane Ambassadors
I left in December 2013. I have had the privilege of working and travelling in wilderness areas since I left Ulovane. I did a brief stint in Lake Manyara National Park, a 3-week self-drive exploring Namibia, which had always been a dream of mine. I also travelled to Mahale National Park, Katavi National Park Ruaha National Park and Selous Game Reserve on a freelance basis. I started my own guiding company, Olotoroki Ltd which aimed at designing tailor-made tours and promoting women guides in Tanzania. Unfortunately, due to the economic climate and the Ebola crisis, I had to put that on hold. A great reminder of how fragile tourism is!
I was then offered a job with Asilia Africa as a relief manager, which I did for 1 month before being offered my own camp in Ruaha National Park. I have been running this camp for 2 years now
Where are you now?
I am in Tanzania, based in Ruaha National Park.
What are your future plans?
My future plans will be in Southern Tanzania, as I am now moving away from Camp management into an Operations role for Ruaha National Park. The long term plan/hope will be one day move into conservation and operations in wilderness areas.
How did your Ulovane experience prepare you for a career in the guiding, hospitality industry?
More than I could ever have imagined. Ulovane was much more than what was on their brochure. It was a life changing experience. The course seemed tailored to me in a way, encapsulating all my passions for the bush, quenching my thirst for knowledge and also the chance to grow into someone I am proud to be. It holds firm on its morals and values that Schalk and Candice live by and that is then imprinted on the wildlife enthusiast we all are inside for the rest of our careers.
Any advice for someone considering a career in the guiding and lodge industry?
Yes. Working in this industry is a responsibility and every person in this industry contributes to its success. So from the word go, acknowledge the responsibility, own your place in it and take all the tools that are given to you to craft your place in this industry. Take nothing for granted in the bush!
What are your best memories of your time at Ulovane?
We were tracking on the reserve, when Charlie saw a cuckoo fly over his head and he turned to try and id what it was, only to see a herd of buffalo stampeding its way towards us. With a cliff nearby, we ran towards it and torn down to the river. Everyone was deathly silent, munching on their sandwiches. We still had a long way to go to our campsite on foot. Nervously we left the river and continued on our way. Suddenly Schalk stopped us to show us a Solifuge spider drilling into the ground. For some reason, we all burst into hysterical laughter. We couldn’t stop laughing, probably due to shock, but we felt as if we had “survived” something together (even though we knew we were safe with Schalk). From that day on we were much closer, felt that much older and I knew this was what I would do for as long as I can.
I do hope you have enjoyed our newsletter! 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.
We still have availability for all of our upcoming Career Focus and Specialised Courses. Follow the link for dates and contact us for rates firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to be one of our featured Ulovane Ambassadors please contact me! We would love to know where you are and where life has taken you after Ulovane.
Until Next Time,
Candice and the Ulovane Team
“But love of the wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only home we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need – if only we had eyes to see.” – Edward Abbey