Ulovane Update: Field and Backup Trails Guides Week 5

19 Feb

Backup Trails Guides

This week was really a fast paced week, and from what I can gather it is going to be like this until the end. We kicked off the week by preparing ourselves for our ARH assessments (advanced rifle handling) due later in the week by practicing at camp with dummy ammunition and running all the drills we were going to need in order to obtain this difficult component of the qualification. On Tuesday we went to the shooting range to practice all of the exercises again, but this time with live ammunition. We were all close to doing it perfectly, and one of us actually was good enough to pass her ARH on Tuesday already (congrats Bianca). This assessment is not easy at all, but I think as a group we supported each other a lot and pushed each other to be the best that we can, so much that when we went back to the shooting range on Wednesday we all did really well, most of us passing the ARH component, and those who didn’t only failed on the simulated charge, an exercise that its really really not easy to pass because of the factors involved. Shooting a small fast moving target, manage guests and do all of the right procedures at the same time it’s for sure not easy, I don’t think that anyone passed without feeling a little bit lucky.

This meant we had something to celebrate on Wednesdays and luck will have it somewhere to do so. Majority of camp went to the Sidbury cricket club and had some fun dancing to the live music that was playing, it was great to meet other guides in the industry and learn a little bit about their experiences.

Thursday we spent a day dedicated to studying for the last weekly exam on dangerous animal’s knowledge followed by two days of walking. Friday we went for a walk in the morning, where for the first time I got to lead the entire group, it felt so enjoyable to give information to my colleagues and to some new faces that joined us on the walk. It was also the first time I lead an approach and the feeling of getting to an animal without it noticing your presence and just being able to enjoy the sighting, it is a feeling I cannot describe, the reward and adrenaline that you feel for being successful and being able to get so close, using all of the environmental factors in your favour, it is something special. Of course when we are in these situations we are not alone, we always have the support of our instructor, Pieter Dunn, who will always help and make sure that everyone is safe.

Saturday we went to one of the most beautiful hidden gems on Amakhala, the Grand Canyon, it is s like you are entering a whole different world, for the first time I saw really big trees in the Eastern Cape, it creates a totally different atmosphere and overwhelms you with its beauty. I really enjoyed the walk and even though we didn’t see a lot of animals, the sheer magnitude of the vegetation and topography was enough to fascinate us all. I’m really glad that I am writing the blog this week because after all, it was one of the most special weeks on the course so far.

  • Diogo Bo-Alma

We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us. – John Muir

Field Guides

After our “lovely” week of botany, finally we are heading into more fascinating and intriguing aspects of the life around us, and why not start small. Arthropods, amphibians and fish are what entailed our 5th week.

On the day of arthropods, Peter our garden-orb spider was getting a good look at and had some hand-caught grasshoppers. Unfortunately Peter has crawled away and found himself a new home.

Once the day of amphibians came, we all got down and dirty (which consisted of getting knee-deep in mud and water) looking for some frogs to help us identify the species found in this area.

The day we learnt about fish, started with fishing, canoeing, swimming, laughing and a couple of sunburnt faces… and of course, Ben won the competition of catching the most fish, as usual!

This week entailed a couple of new things, such as the mock tracking assessment we did on Wednesday. Looking at scrub hare dung, figuring out porcupine tracks and territorial markings of a Rhino is a lot more fun than what we all expected! Also, we did food and wine pairing, with Candice who taught us a lot about hospitality and who showed us an awesome time! After that we supported a local band at the sidbury Cricket Club!

We are very much looking forward to next week of birds and reptiles, after our well-deserved weekend off!

– Sam and Phillip

“THE GOOD LIFE requires that we take pleasure in new things; A GOOD LIFE requires that we take pleasure in moments. To enjoy THE GOOD LIFE we have to get ahead; to enjoy A GOOD LIFE we have to make the trip worthwhile. THE GOOD LIFE is supported by feeding our pocketbooks; A GOOD LIFE is supported by feeding our souls.” ― Steve Goodier

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