Ulovane Update: September Semester Week 8

27 Nov

November Marine Guide course: Week 1

Danike is here to share the exciting first week of the final marine guide course for the year! She has been with us here at Ulovane for both the Apprentice Field and Trails guide courses! Have a read for yourselves on what they got to up to!

Our very first week on the Marine course!

Our home for the next four weeks is at Riet River, just outside of Port Alfred. We arrived last Sunday afternoon, unpacked our things and settled into the house we are staying in. We were all just so excited to be there, we had to tackle the dunes and go and get our feet wet as soon as we possibly could! The view from the house is spectacular, with the sand dunes literally down the stairs from our deck!! We are very fortunate to have this base for our marine course.

Our first day began with a walk along the beach to go and collect as many shells as we could, to start working straight away on our shell identification skills. There are a lot of shells to learn to identify on the marine course, so the earlier we start the practising, the better! It was a very fun and adventurous walk, exploring the beach right in front of the house. The following day was a class day as we already had our first exam coming up on Wednesday. After that, we had the afternoon for fishing and then another walk to explore the other side of the beach!

Thursday was one of the best days this far! We had a bright and early morning start to a canoe trip. It was about a four-hour trip, canoeing down the Busman’s river. The best sighting we had was of a Half-collared kingfisher that we were about 4m from!!!  It’s the very first time I have ever seen one. We found and talked about more marine topics like algae, fish, birds and things unique to the water channel we were on. On our way back we came across a school of fish, which was hiding in between the seaweeds. They jumped and swam all around us; it was something simply magical!

We later went for lunch at the beach and ended the day with more fishing as we were planning on going snorkelling, but the weather wasn’t playing along. The activities we get to do are very weather dependent on the marine guide course, so we make the most of the ‘good weather’ days!

Our first Friday for the course started off with a bird walk, to see what birds we could find around the estuaries.  Later that day Rosie and Lachlan arrived at Riet River, where they will be spending the next week with us.

I think the first week was very successful and one we will never forget. I am most certainly looking forward to the next three!

 Can’t believe how time flies when you’re having fun.


Advice from the Ocean:
Be shore of yourself. Come out of your shell.
Take time to relax and coast. Avoid pier pressure.
Sea life’s beauty. Don’t get tide down.
Make waves!
Author Unknown

Apprentice Field Guides: Week 8

Batian and Gerhard are here to share their week eight experiences with you all. Batian is from Kenya, who has joined us for the ten-week Apprentice Field Guide course. Gerhard is a returning student, who chose to come back to further his qualifications and increase his skills as a Field Guide (Level 2). He has been guiding at a reserve a bit further North from the Eastern Cape but has thoroughly enjoyed being back here again and we have loved having him HOME!

My experience at Ulovane so far has been one of the best experiences of my life. Having spent a lot of my early years in the bush thinking I had the knowledge to become a guide; I’ve never been so wrong! There is so much to learn and over the last eight weeks we have been doing so many varied and exciting activities, from fishing to gardening to game drives and lectures. I really recommend Ulovane to anyone, no matter where you are from in the world! For example, here in camp now we have two British students, one from Holland, one from Italy, five South Africans, one student from Germany, all with ages ranging from 18 to 41!!! I am from Kenya. A varied and fantastic group dynamic we have had the last eight weeks. So, if you’re reading this and thinking about attending the course, I highly recommend it.

During this week, we were preparing for the upcoming assessment game drives that start on Monday. We have real guests who come to Ulovane from nearby towns, to go on a game drive led entirely by us as their guide, while we are assessed on our capabilities to provide a guided experience by either Justin or Schalk. To prepare for this week, we had the opportunity to do mock assessment drives where we take our peers out on drives as if they were guests, which is a great opportunity we are given because it allows us to test our knowledge and see how we would interact with our guests. These drives also help us really get an understanding of what a career as a guide will be like in the future. They have only upped my excitement and I really can’t wait to start the next chapter of my life as a Field Guide.


Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. George Bernard Shaw

This was the final week of the programme to complete our practical assessments for our course.

The first of these activities for the week started out with me conducting a game drive on Monday morning with the other field guide students as my “guests”. Doing this was something I thoroughly enjoyed and made me realize how much I miss working with guests and being out on game drives. There is nothing more relaxing than being out in the African bush, listening to all the sounds nature has to offer, looking for or observing all the animals or just watching a beautiful African sunrise or sunset.

We also did a field observation this week which is a series of fifty questions, where we are asked to identify anything from trees, flowers, birds – by both sight and sound – to tracks, geology and reptiles or insects. We all did very well in it! This observation was all about the Ulovane experience as well as teamwork and team building.

On Thursday we made our way down to Addo National Park for the day with Justin and the two Savannah Guides, Rosie and Lachlan. This was one of my favourite experiences as we just spent the day in the African bush, looking for and observing the different animals and birds. Of course, we saw a lot of elephants which I really didn’t mind as they are one of my favourite animals. We sat for ages just observing them and their behaviour which is very entertaining because they all have their own personalities! It is the time of year for babies, we were very fortunate to have seen a really tiny, brand new one!!

We ended the week off with our sustainable living activity on Saturday morning. We had a wonderful trip to a nearby lodge on Amakhala reserve, who run an aquaponics system where we got to see how it runs, from beginning to end, and then we planted some lettuce, spring onion and coriander seedlings into the ‘beds’. It was a great morning activity as a team and very interesting to see how successful ANYTHING can grow, without soil!

Even though I spent a lot of my time doing tests, assignments and studying, if I look back on the week it was honestly one of my favourite weeks here. Each experience provides an opportunity to learn from and we are always learning new things, both in class and from each other.


Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve. Mary Kay Ash

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