Ulovane Update: Field and Backup Trails Guides Week 3

30 Apr

Field Guides

This has been quite an intense week with a busy schedule; though I have made a lot of unforgettable memories!

We had a few good game drives this week where I was on the tracker seat and we came across a King and his lioness. This was an unforgettable experience as it made me realize that animals are wild, but they don’t actually want to harm you or pose any kind of threat if we respect their boundaries. I feel in fact, that most of them are gentle giants of the Bush, however, they must still be respected as they are still very dangerous if approached and will defend themselves if need be.

It was really a thrilling feeling sitting on that seat and being almost face to face with one of the big five predators!

 We also started practising our driving this week of these big beautiful 4×4 vehicles. I was a bit worried at first because of windy and very wet and rainy weather conditions, although I was not too worried about the vehicle itself as I grew up driving 4x4s.  With the weather being as it was however, the drive was extremely wet and slippery and just made me realize what a crucial responsibility it is when it comes to driving other people in trying conditions and how careful you have to be when making the right decision while behind the wheel, because what I learnt was how your decision could either put the people you are driving in trouble, or keep them out of harms way.

All in all my first drive in the 4×4 vehicle, affectionately named “Sullivan”, went well and was great fun driving through the mud! I feel I have fallen in love with the power of Sully’s engine!

This week we had a chance to camp out on Ulovane reserve. This ‘me time’ activity was so worthwhile. I camped alone by the dam which was amazing; I thoroughly enjoyed having my own space, peace and time to think about my life, the course and much more. It gave me time to realize a thing or two about my own life, and life in general as well. It has also been so nice building strong friendships with my fellow course mates and spending invaluable time with them, being able to make unforgettable memories and sharing many laughs along the way.

Overall, I’m loving the course and making the very best of my important time here at Ulovane ..Amen

  • Lloyd Vos

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”  Albert Einstein

Backup Trails Guides

It is week 3 and the Trails Guide Course has now really begun. After our whole group successfully passed ARH last week, it is now finally time to go out into the field.

The week started off with a lot of rain and for the first time, we could all notice that winter is coming. On Monday we had a couple of lectures about the fundamentals of conducting a Trails Guiding Experience, equipment and orientation skills. Also, we looked at some potentially dangerous animal encounters, specifically discussing lion, elephant, buffalo, and rhino. The rest of the week was scheduled for bush walks. However, due to the heavy rainfall on Tuesday, we decided to stay inside that day and used the time to deepen our knowledge on animal’s tracks & signs. It is nice to have a more thorough understanding of all the marks left by animals that can be seen whilst out in the field.

From Wednesday onwards, we spent each day on Amakhala Game Reserve, leaving camp before sunrise. On Wednesday we walked through Amakhala Bushmans River Basin, an area which we are all very familiar with from our time on the Field Guide Course. We started this day with our first elephant sighting on foot. Most importantly, it made us realise the number of factors which you have to take into account in order to safely and ethically approach these potentially dangerous game species. Things like wind direction, position of the sun, elevation, camouflage and concealment, possible escape routes for both people and animals, and the mood and activities of the animal(s) at any given time.

In the afternoon we had another encounter with elephants, this time at a distance of about 50 meters without any physical barrier. It brought the Trails Guide Course suddenly to a completely different level; it was absolutely breath-taking to see these enormous creatures so close in front of you.

On Thursday we explored an area of Amakhala game reserve referred to as the ‘Dune Forest’, which is part of the southern section of the park. The nice part of being a Trails Guide is that you have the opportunity to focus on and elaborate on the small things you see around you. A few examples of the many experiences this day were eating Oxalis flowers, listening to bird calls, and digging up roots.

Friday by far was the highlight of our week with a few special encounters, two of these encounters being completely unexpected, but we managed to sneak away quietly and unseen- which is exactly what being an ethical trails guide is all about. To finish off this amazing day, we (sadly not all of us) saw 4 porcupines crossing the road and disappearing into their den. Fun fact: did you know that porcupines always come out of their den backside first whereas warthogs enter their den backside first? So the next time you see a warthog running with porcupine quills in its bum, do not be surprised!

  • Stephan Lugthart

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

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