Week 7 and our main focus was mammals, prepping for our assessment game drives and our hosting evening. The weather was not our friend, as winter has arrived early, but loads was planned for the week ahead and we were not going to let the weather hold us back.
It was the final week of the Back-up Trails guides at campus. They had their assessment walks happening this week, so on Tuesday, some of the field guides went as guests on their walks on various sections of Amakhala Game Reserve, while the others went onto the reserve to take part in conservation management. The conservation activity for the day was cutting down alien trees on the reserve and using it for firewood. I really enjoyed being part of the walks and what I learnt the most was the animal behaviour we observed on foot compared to a vehicle-based guiding.
Later, we took the afternoon to start preparing for our “Bush Family” themed hosting evening which was attended by fellow students, as well as guests who work on Amakhala Game Reserve. It was enjoyed by all who attended, with some staying up a little later than others! A good end to a fun and very successful evening. We all got to realise just how much preparation and effort goes into cooking for 30 people every day!
Wednesday was the 20th birthday celebrations for Amakhala, we joined up with about 300 of Amakhala’s staff, owners and guests at an area of the reserve known as “Big Hoek”, for a braai (of course), a catch-up and a few photo opportunities. Every person in attendance stood out in the open plain in the shape of the number 20, and drone images were taken from above! It was absolutely incredible to be a part of! Definitely my highlight of the week!
Thursday was a busy day with more mock assessment game drives in the morning and in the afternoon with incredible sightings on all the drives! I am thankful for the mock game drives as I feel a bit more confident after having had these practice game drives before my real guests arrive.
Friday morning, Oscar had his assessment drive. We returned back to camp and started preparing for the trails guides graduation which was thoroughly enjoyed by all who attended. The slide shows brought back awesome memories for them with everyone having a good laugh throughout! That evening we had some quiet time to relax and socialise around a warm fire. We were also joi0ned by 3 of the April 2018 One year students, who got together to celebrate them completing their one year course at Ulovane. Well done everyone!
Saturday morning was time to change tyres to make sure everyone is competent in doing so! For the rest of the day, we relaxed and got some serious studying time in for our exam on Sunday!
Overall it was an exciting, chilly week enjoyed by everyone!
“Enjoy the little things in life, because one day you will look back, and realize they were the big things.” – unknown
Backup Trails Guides – that’s a Wrap!
The final week of trails, oh how the time has flown by! It’s been an amazing 7 weeks with even more amazing experiences!
We kicked off week 7 with our Jungle lane and I’m not going to say anything more because the first rule of jungle lane is to not talk about jungle lane, so if you want to understand what I’m talking about then you’ll have to sign up with Ulovane Environmental Training and experience it for yourself! What I will say is that it was an incredibly nerve-wracking and exciting experience all in one!
On Tuesday our assessment walks started with Rowan, Sem and Francois being assessed by Piet, while Lloyd and Sam were assessed by Shani. For these walks, the field guides, as well as our Australian friends from Savannah guides, joined as the guests! They experienced some extraordinary sightings and had a great day out! Well done to these future backup trails guides for passing the assessment!
On Wednesday the assessment walks continued, the field guides and our Australian friends joining again as guests. One group had Stephan and Tamara as their guides, being assessed by Shani, and they had some fantastic sightings! The other group had myself and Damon as their guides! Our walk started off extremely chilly in the now South African winter mornings, but we all soon forgot about the cold with an awesome sighting of 3 lionesses hunting warthog! We stayed with them for a while but their hunt proved unsuccessful probably due to the same cold we were experiencing; they just needed to warm those legs up but alas the ‘piggies’ all escaped unharmed and the lion’s bellies remained hungry! Following this amazing sighting, we had the whole herd of elephants appear from the riverbed and we had an awesome sighting of them as well!
Safe to say now that all of us back-up trails guide students passed our assessments! Congratulations guys, you all worked hard and it paid off!
On Thursday morning we wrote our mock exam in preparation for the real one on Friday morning! After our final exam, we are all headed off for some short downtime, with some of us returning for the Marines course and some of us saying goodbye to Ulovane!
It’s been an incredible journey with many memories made and we can’t thank everyone here enough! New friends have been made over the past 19 weeks and experiences that one will never forget!
Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit. – E. E. Cummings