In week six of our Apprentice Field guide course, you heard from Kyla, one of the students who are part of the first-ever Ulovane fifteen-week online and onsite course. Today, Maddie is here to share with you all the phenomenal week eight they have had! The weeks just keep getting better!
Hello, world, what a week it’s been – although I say this after every week, awesome experiences and bucket loads of nature knowledge never stop flowing in this place!
Our week began with lectures followed by my mock game drive, during which I felt slightly nervy but excited to be behind the wheel and out exploring. We saw heaps of animals and the sun was shining so smiley faces returned to camp.
Piet took some of us out on a botany drive the next day where we collected samples to take back to camp. I found it super helpful actually going round and looking in-depth into each of the trees, grasses, and flowers that we need to learn, I’m very much a visual learner and there’s only so much a photo on a computer screen can give you, so it was great to actually be out there seeing things in situ.
Botany has been one of the surprising, new-found loves/appreciations since starting the course. Plants are fascinating, from their adaptations and survival skills to the different relationships they have with animals, it’s an area I’d definitely like to invest more time in studying in the future.
The middle of the week was definitely a stand-out for me, not just from this week but of the entire course so far!
The morning started with Mikaela’s mock drive, where we were blessed to see a whole elephant herd making their way out of the thicket and wandering across the plains right in front of us. It’s always special seeing the herd together, they’re so majestic and the feeling of awe never leaves me each time I see them, as you sit and observe you see their personalities start to shine through, you can quite easily work out who likes to play and who you shouldn’t mess with!
After watching them disappear into the bush we went in search of a spot to have a nice relaxing coffee break. Noticing the giraffe feeding on the edge of the thicket line, we stopped, thinking we could just watch them from afar, presuming they’d meander off or give us a wide-birth whilst we were stood having coffee.
Gradually, around ten of them including three or four young ones crept closer and closer until they were literally 5m in front of the cruiser, all looking at us curiously thinking ‘what in the world are you?!’ Everyone went silent but you could feel an intense buzz in the air as they slowly made their way around the cruiser, passing by so relaxed and even stopping to drink from the puddles next to us!! You really get a proper sense of how huge they are when an adult male is casually walking past you, they are TALL. That feeling of awe rose back to the surface; there were no words coming out of my mouth but in my head, I was screaming OOOHHHHH MY WORDDDDDD. It was one of those moments that gives you shivers, you know that’s something you’ll never experience again, completely unique and incredible, I could use a million more positive adjectives to describe the experience but I’ll leave it at that, WOW.
I ended that day sat in the hammock on the outskirts of camp watching the sunset, a beautiful spot, and a good place to think. How lucky are we to be surrounded by all this awesome nature, having experiences like this? It consolidated in my mind that this is the place for me, cliché but hey.
To end the week off nicely we had our tracking assessment on Friday, it’s an intense and long day (see the photo of me trying to work out raindrop marks in the sand, stumped…) but you pick things up and learn so much in a really short space of time, following animal tracks, working out who’s been where and who’s done what, not a bad way to spend the day if you ask me.
All in all another jam-packed week at Ulovane, time really flies in this place, you blink and another week has gone, there are only two weeks to go now until the end of the course, but trying not to think about that now (sob). Two more weeks of new experiences and two more weeks to squeeze as much knowledge out of our poor trainers as possible!! Bring it on!!
The four Cs of making dreams come true: Curiosity, Courage, Consistency, Confidence. – Walt Disney