Ulovane update: July Field Guides Week 8 and August Marine Guides Week 1

04 Sep

Ulovane update: July Field Guides Week 8

The end of the week 8 arrived faster than expected. I was suddenly in front of my laptop typing those words and trying to put some order in my brain. Trying to explain as clearly as possible what happen in the Field Guides student’s life today.

This week was very psychologically busy. Our game drive assessments are next week, and the final FGASA exam the week after it. During the whole week we had to drive at least once for a mock driving assessment. Hopefully it was just a mock, I can tell you that it reminded everyone what is important to think about and what we still have to work on for the final assessment game drive. For example, do not forget the hot water for your drink stop (*Richard’s reminder)… Generally the results were good, and everyone seems to be on the right track. I personally am really looking forward for next week!

We had to organize and prepare a dinner hosting on Tuesday evening, for 20 guests and 10 Field Guide students. For the most of us, it was the first time we cooked for so many people. If we take in consideration the stress because of wrong or even missing ingredients, I can say today that it was a real success!

All the guests were smiling and laughing, our two hosts (Colin & Charne) did a great job by naturally conversing and joking. I was impressed, but grateful to stay at the back of the scene. I saw real friendships and support in the back of house. Even if we had defined roles at the beginning of the evening, everyone helped each other for the best organization and flow as possible. It was the first time of the course I understood what I am doing here.

The second time was during the « Me time ». We had to spend 24 hours on Ulovane Reserve, alone with our sleeping bags, snacks and our full brains. My first impression when I was walking and sweating due to my big bag and the hard sun was just « why? ». Then I found my spot. Under a Common Guarri bush, surrounded by small bushes and in in front of me an incredible view of Amakhala Game Reserve. I was sitting on a rock. I don’t know how much time I spent here. I was just appreciating the view and the sun in my face. For the first time of the course, I wrote in my diary. During the night, I woke up a couple of times and looked around me, trying to identify the sounds I heard. I found no fear in me, only curiosity and joy for what I was experiencing right here and now.

September is not a great month for me. I lost someone and thereby lost something very close to me, three years ago. But for the first time in three years I think I found it again in front of Amakhala. I remembered why I am here and what I expect from life. My stress is gone, my happiness is back and every day since our « Me time »  I remind myself  that I am a 22 year old French girl in the middle of South Africa for 2 more weeks, and I need to take that time and make it mine.

« The only thing that limited in life is time. » – Koen Pretorius

I still have a lot to learn, from all Ulovane team and the other students. But today I say to myself that I can do it. Don’t doubt that you could do it too… And maybe come and join us?


Did you know: The first Arbor Day was in 1594 in Spain. Since then, it continues to expand all around the world. Today, many countries observe a holiday in which individuals and groups are encouraged to plant trees. The 1st of September 2018 was Arbor day in South Africa and I am sure most countries, this continues for a week or a month – here at Ulovane we are going all in for as long as possible. So go ahead, plant some trees or start your own veggie garden! But be careful, thanks to our Conservation management class we now know that afforestation can be a threat for plant biodiversity. If you would like participate in Arbor Day have a look at some information here Arbor Day Foundation or Greenpop and make sure you are planting an indigenous tree and not an alien species.

Ulovane Update: Marine Guides Week 1

Arriving back at Ulovane on Sunday after a short but much needed break, it’s safe to say all of us students were brimming with excitement to finally start the marine course considering for some it was the make or break decision with regards to why we applied at Ulovane as its one of the few training institutions that offer the marine guide course. Welcome to Terrence and Kristi who will be joining us on this adventure!!

Monday was filled with lectures around the table with a compulsory toasty indoor fire as a relief from the icy cold conditions outdoors. As from Tuesday, we headed out on the beginning of our five day adventure to Brenton on sea, Knysna with one of our awesome instructor’s, Koen. The days to follow were filled with breathtaking journeys and memories not to mention the immense amount of knowledge we have gained within five short days.

We started off our adventure the following day with a physically challenging hike along the Robberg Nature Reserve trail in Plettenberg bay. For some in which I mean myself, it was emotionally challenging too particularly if one has a fear of heights. The steep uphill’s and rocky downhills was all worth it when one got to experience the beauty of the ocean from a view of a few hundred meters. The highlight being the opportunity to swim amongst the wild yet curious Cape fur seals whom although boisterous make for the perfect swimming partners. We were soon treated to a much needed heartfelt, filling meal at a restaurant overlooking the now calm ocean as the sun blessed us with its final ray of warmth before it set out of sight.

The following day we set out with a challenge to collect the most delectable looking mussels along the sandy shores of Brenton on sea. After a brief period of exploring the diverse rocky pools we gathered our remaining energy for a lecture on coastal botany. With all the anticipation present we had attempted to put our master chef skills to test that evening and prepared a tasty seafood feast. The garlic butter sauce and potato salad were of quality standard however the same couldn’t be said for our delectable looking muscles which turned out to be a bit more sandy than scrumptious.

A magnificent yet draining three days had passed and finally we were granted the opportunity for a late sleep in and workbook wrap up which was later followed by a trip to Buffelsbaai for a hearty, traditional South African style braai along the coastline.

Our final day has approached and couldn’t be spent any better than with a short hike to High Point, Knysna overlooking the majestic ocean once more. Our stomachs now rumbling we made our way back relatively fast with the motivation of pizza in mind. In no time we were comfortably seated in the classy Blu restaurant patiently awaiting our desired meals.

Us students would like to thank Koen for all the spoils, splendid views and vast knowledge he has provided us with whilst on the trip.

“The ocean is a central image. It is the symbolism of a great journey”, Enya.

“The loss of a friend is like that of a limb; time may heal the anguish of the wound, but the loss cannot be repaired”, Robert Southey. In memory of our beloved friend Warren Hugo, we thank you for always putting a smile on our faces and happiness in our hearts. Warren was with us on our April Field Guide course and sadly passed away a couple of weeks ago. Our condolences to all of his family and friends.

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