Ulovane Update: September Semester Week 3

22 Oct

Apprentice Field Guides

Apprentice Field Guide Lara shares exciting experiences from week three of their course! Lara is from South Africa and she has joined us for our 10-week Apprentice Field Guide course, having chosen to become a Field Guide so that she can do her part in protecting nature and its inhabitants.

This week was filled with amazing sightings and experiences; I still can’t believe how lucky we have been!

Our week started with an afternoon game drive on Amakhala Game Reserve where we were treated to a swim in the Bushmans’ river that meanders through the reserve. It was bittersweet, as we are currently experiencing the driest conditions the Eastern Cape has seen in over 100 years, so the river itself is so low it is heart-breaking; we swam in barely 1m depth of water. What a privilege we have in our hands, to be able to be free to experience these moments, completely immersed in nature.

Later in the week, we had three students from Addo join us for our day drive on Amakhala. It was great to spend the whole day out on the reserve, stopping to have lunch under a big, old White Milkwood tree on the reserve, and getting to explore parts of the reserve we hadn’t yet been to. We saw elephants, two male giraffes sparing (play fighting) each other, lots of grazing animals and we were treated to a REAL special sighting of a teeny tiny baby giraffe, whose umbilical cord hadn’t even dried out yet. It was an incredible heart-warming moment, as you can see for yourselves in the pictures!

We had a very, very hot day here this week, 54°C the thermometer read when we put it in the sun outside on the deck!! In order to adapt to this, we had our game drive that day from 6-10 pm, and it was great as we got to see the hippos grazing on land! We were also introduced to our Springhares on Amakhala, some of us were very amused by the “Speedy Gonzales’”, as they have been affectionately nicknamed by us. There is NO shortage of them on the reserve!

Aside from the amazing animal sightings we have had, I made some great personal discoveries about myself this week 😊I discovered that I am not as weird or socially awkward as I thought I was because I have made more friends here in three weeks than I did in my entire high school years.

From Friday afternoon to Saturday lunchtime, we had a sleepout here on Ulovane Reserve. This ‘me time’ activity is an amazing opportunity, where we have 24 hours to ourselves, to think, be and experience nature in all her beauty. We took our belongings and walked out of camp to find our spots for the night. It was super fun, complete with a very unexpected thunderstorm!  It was like a cinema but nature’s one! It was beautiful and terrifying at the same time. The rain came down and I was cold, but it was worth it in the end.

Every day I learn more about nature and what makes it tick and each day I learn more about myself in this exciting environment.



Apprentice Trails Guides

Francois has always had a passion for nature. He has been with us since July, where he joined us for a complete career and life change from being a Jockey! He is currently busy with his Apprentice Trails guide course with us and will be with us for the marine guide course as well!  Have a read below on his view of their first week walking on Amakhala Game Reserve!

Well what can I say, just as I thought it couldn’t get any better, IT DID!

TRAILS! What a completely different way of experiencing the bush! You truly feel one with it! Walking on foot in a Big 5 Game Reserve is truly exhilarating.

I really enjoyed every day of this week. Since having started our course, Monday was our first walking trail with Piet, our course instructor, out on Amakhala Game Reserve.

We learnt so much about the small things that one doesn’t notice or get the chance to see when doing vehicle-based guiding. We had some very special sightings that we were told don’t occur all too often; how blessed are we to have been able to experience this on foot. We got to walk with Schalk this week; it was an incredibly hot day out there, but it was another awesome walk and really great that we get to learn from more than one passionate and incredibly knowledgeable instructor. As you can see from the pictures, we had an amazingly relaxed sighting quite close to some giraffe. On the subject of giraffe, did you know that the collective noun for a herd or family of giraffe is either a tower or journey? Journey is used most commonly when the giraffe are walking across an open plain.

Then……. We had to have a 4.00 am rise on Thursday to start our walk with Shani as we hit 40°C here that day!!! It was madness and an incredibly challenging day for us, even with the early start. Needless to say, we were wise and came back to camp at about 12.00 pm. Shani’s great mentoring skills pulled us through this day, and we made it!

Friday was my personal challenge of the week; my first time walking as back-up rifle for Piet as lead guide. Now let me say this much – it isn’t as easy as I thought. There a million things that go through your mind all at once, knowing that you have the responsibility of the whole group’s lives in your hands. BUT… I loved every single second of it. It just goes to show that once again, the experience that I signed up for when I first came here 13 weeks ago is way more than I expected.

I don’t know if as you read, you realised we had three different qualified Lead Trails Guides walking with us throughout this week. Where are you going to find so many people with knowledge and experience in one place?! Ulovane, all I can say is “YOU ROCK!”

AND thank you for changing my life forever!


“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”– Mary Anne Radmacher

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