Apprentice Field Guides
This Week started with all of us beginning to practice driving the game viewers. Our instructor Justin guided us through each drive and set us up with a few challenging routes in order to test both our driving and navigation skills. He showed us that being a guide is not only about talking and driving, but it is about being one with nature, which means being able to feel your way through the bush instead of just finding your way out of necessity.
As the week went on, we were amazed and lucky with some fantastic sightings, from big to small! Some of the best of the week included seeing and spending time with a pride of lions on Amakhala Game Reserve and being able to observe animal behaviour we learn about in theory, practically in real life! A wide range of animals exhibit behaviour called ‘Flehmen grimace’, which is when a male bares his teeth, to inhale pheromones of the female’s urine through his mouth, in order to ‘test’ the scent to see if she is ready for mating. We even got to see one of the lionesses chase a warthog!
You can see all this animal behaviour in the awesome pictures from the week!
We were treated to an extra special sighting of a beautiful little Hottentot’s Golden mole running in the road while we were doing our night drive on the reserve earlier this week. A rare sight!! I was also very excited when I spotted Brown Hyena tracks from the tracker seat this week.
Justin gave us over to Schalk for a day and he took us out to learn a bit about botany. What we enjoyed is that he didn’t just lecture us, he showed us by letting us feel and smell and even let us taste some of the plants, whilst telling us stories about them and why they have their specific names.
Towards the end of our week, we had our “me” time! This is an activity on Ulovane reserve, where we get the chance to spend time alone in the bush on Ulovane; to have a night out underneath the stars and appreciate what it is we have. Most of us came together near an area called ‘Klipgat’ gate, which about an hour’s walk from camp, and then we settled down to sleep underneath the night sky, looking at the stars and explaining our favourite parts of astronomy to each other.
After a few hours, however, some of us decided to move closer to camp leaving Sandra alone to fend for herself, but a few hours later we got a message reading “… I think there is a pig bush or warthog close to my place” … We didn’t immediately run to her aid as we feel it’s all part of the experience, we did have a little laugh, but then were pleased she survived and decided to come join the group after her wildlife encounter!
Nature is the source of all true knowledge. She has her own logic, her own laws, she has no effect without cause nor invention without necessity. Leonardo da Vinci
Apprentice Trails Guides
Starting off with a very exciting week one with the PFTC, handling the rifle for the very first time for me, followed by ARH the following week, which personally I felt was filled with a huge amount of stress and fear, our course has been off to a running start. Amidst all the stress and fear, something I’m grateful for here at Ulovane is always having that positive encouragement after each failure.
This week started off with lots of overwhelming feelings and emotions as it was the first time we got out to walk on Amakhala Game Reserve. I was filled somewhat with disappointment at not reaching my own personal goal. Self-doubt and judgement are the perfect recipe for disaster but the most important thing I’ve learned here at Ulovane is that this feeling can and will be cured by communication, actions and support by the Ulovane Team.
Our third walk was absolutely stunning with not an animal in sight during the duration of the entire walk, but it was thrilling to follow the tracks and signs they left behind them. Ultimately, we learned so much more on this walk than we may have had as an idea in our minds about how a walk ‘should’ be. We learnt tons of interesting facts and I think it is safe to say that from this walk, we all took away something valuable, and that is when you are a Trails guide, you get to see and focus on the small things about nature that vehicle-based guiding doesn’t allow for, and that is magnificent!
Our week ended off with some thrilling and unbelievable encounters with lion, buffalo and elephant. On foot, the experience is completely different. Being able to sit quietly and undetected and just observing the behaviour of the animals, seeing what they want us to learn from them without any sound needed from them. We learn daily out of our mistakes as well as from observing others, and we get the chance to improve on a continuous basis.
I don’t think I can choose a favourite moment from this week as it was all just incredible for me but sitting and observing animals undisturbed in their own habitat is something I definitely recommend!
I would say though that this week, I made a personal discovery about myself, and that is to always try to look up and see the beauty in life rather than looking down and holding on to the fear of falling.
Thank you to Ulovane who has made it possible!
Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. Albert Einstein