The week that has passed was filled with fear, excitement, tears and joy as we went through assessment game drives. This is the moment we have all been waiting for; what it feels like to become a field guide. It was an exciting and nerve wracking experience, and I think everyone dealt with it in a different way. Meeting interesting guests, some local, some international, couples, families and friends and sharing your knowledge with them on all the things we have learned has been such a rewarding experience. Some needed more emotional support than others, but that always happens when you need to prove yourself in front of strangers.
For me it was an amazing experience, but I’m not going to lie, I was super nervous before my first drive, my clients came all this way for a game drive, and they where very excited to do it. So we went out! We had so much fun in the rain that the nerves quickly faded away, and we got some exciting elephant sightings that we ended up staying out for a little bit longer than planned. It’s put into perspective all the hard work we have done over the last 9 weeks and showed us that all the hard work has been so worth it.
Game drives require a lot of planning and preparation in order to meet all of your clients needs and ensure a successful game drive. That’s the part where we need all of the help that our friends can give us. by hosting and making sure that the lodge has a welcoming atmosphere. Personally, that’s the part that I like to focus on, because during this stressful week everyone had each others backs, and we all worked as a team making sure that the person being assessed had everything necessary.
It is a wonderful feeling coming back after a long drive and knowing that everything is taken care of and that you can always rely on your friends back at the lodge, even the ones that were not supposed to be on hosting duty. As the week progressed and we started on our second assessment drives, no more nerves, now the weather was cooperating and we went out and just enjoyed ourselves. As students we all enjoyed our second drives much more than our firsts, purely because we weren’t nearly as afraid as we had been the first time around. We finished the week with a sense of accomplishment and incredible feedback from our clients, and as much as it was a learning curve, we wouldn’t change a thing even if we could.
It’s unbelievable to think we have one week left until we all go home, and as excited as we are to see our families and go home, I don’t think a single one of us wants to leave. We’ve formed such tight bonds and become a family in our short time at Ulovane.
- Diogo and Dimpho
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney
It’s difficult to describe where the last 6 months have gone with only two weeks left, it has been a journey of a lifetime.We had a busy week of learning and identifying the various marine species that can be found along the rich South African coastline.
Earlier in the week we had a 30km canoe trip up the Bushman’s river and stopped at a small place overlooking Kariega Game Reserve. While we paddled along the river we encountered various bird species and some river based invertebrates (such as the very strange looking shaggy sea hare). It was a challenging two day canoe trip and we were all pretty tired upon our return to camp, however it was an experience we all enjoyed and look back at with a few good laughs.
Midweek was class based activities with lectures on fish, mammals, birds, ecology and animal behaviour. As well as identifying the various shells on the classes shell board which is more difficult than what you may think with a number of them looking almost identical.
The group ended the week off by going to Riet River (near Port Alfred) with a few of the field guides. We did do some snorkelling in the rock pools again trying to identify new species of marine life and had some fun in the ocean waves.
Along the beach at Riet River we found a Cape Gannet with a broken wing (causes unknown). We decided we could not just simply leave the bird, so as a group we managed to bring the bird back to camp and then take it to the SANCOB rehabilitation centre in Port Elizabeth, where I can happily say that the bird is on its way to recovery.
“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” – Paulo Coelho