Ulovane Update: January 2020 Semester Week 2

28 Jan

Apprentice Trails Guides

Lara is back at Ulovane for the Apprentice Trails guide course this year. She will be continuing with us for her marine guide course and wishes to remain in the guiding industry after she has completed her studies with us here at Ulovane!

Week two of our Apprentice Trails guide course started off with a bang – literally!
This was the week for us to spend at the outdoor shooting range doing our Advanced Rifle Handling assessments – A.R.H. This meant the beginning of the early starts to our days! Especially as a Trails guide, we start our days very early for walks; on the really hot days it is necessary to get out as early as possible – which may take getting used to, but it is a beautiful time of day when the mornings are crisp and we are waking up and beginning our day along with the birds.

The A.R.H is our first test at a skill as an Apprentice Trails guide, that uses physical, mental & emotional capacities. We spent many hours in our first week on a blindfold exercise with the rifle, getting used to how it feels and works because essentially, when you are a Trails guide, your weapon must become an extension of your arm; the use of and feel of it must come naturally. That is what the purpose of working with dummy rounds on the range and doing the blindfold exercises are for; to allow us to begin to train our muscle memory. The firing of live rounds at the range for some people can also be a big mental challenge, but nonetheless, it is all a learning curve and we all have learnt a lot this past week.

The outdoor shooting range is situated on a neighbouring property to Ulovane, on one of Amakhala Game Reserve’s landowner’s property. On the drive to the range early in the mornings, we could see the effect the rains have had on both Ulovane and Amakhala; it is truly beautiful and was so very desperately needed.  On the subject of rain, we have had rain every day this week, which of course can make things a bit more challenging at the outdoor shooting range. But I’m not at all complaining! The rifle we learn to shoot with for Apprentice Trails guiding is a .375 calibre rifle. The other 6 students on the course with me all shot with it, but I chose not to. On day 3 of our time at the range, one of my fellow students Lucian shot and passed all the exercises so he obtained his A.R.H qualification that day! We were all very proud of him!

After this, Lucian gave me confidence in myself, to manage my fear of the rifle and try and shoot. I had butterflies and fear in my belly, and I almost backed out again, but I pushed through and didn’t let the fear get the better of me!
Once I had pulled the trigger, I felt the butterflies turn to adrenalin, which was a huge thing for me because it allowed me to continue shooting after that, proving to myself that I am braver than I think. Maurice also passed his A.R.H this week!

We had an amazing week, and I learnt a lot about myself.


Passion when given wings of persistence and perseverance takes flight over the sky of achievement which finally lands on success. – Dr Anil Kumar Sinha

Apprentice Field Guides

Oscar and Luan are here to share week two of their Apprentice Field Guide course with you all! Luan is from Ireland, and Oscar is from the Netherlands.

With four different subjects; guiding, astronomy, geology and weather and climate, together with starting driving lessons in the 4 x 4 game drive vehicles ourselves, the second week was a packed and busy one! The first time for myself to drive this week came around early on Tuesday after we finished our morning class of astronomy. I was driving Theodore, the land rover. Our first week in camp last week was very, very hot, so the rain we had fall over this week was very much needed for the animals and the land, but we were also grateful for the relief from the heat! When it was my turn to drive, the rain had just let up after the almost 3 days of it on and off.  My first driving experience was luckily on a steady, hard road instead of a muddy and slippery one!

One of my favourite moments this week was when we got to spend some time with Schalk on some of our activities; his lecture and his motivations about how everything is alive including the water and the rocks was a truly inspiring moment for me.

It is hard to believe that the second week is almost over. We learned a great amount in such a short amount of time and just like the saying goes, “Time flies when you are having fun!”.

Saturday’s are D.I.Y in camp, so this Saturday some of us spent the whole morning chopping wood to use at camp, but at the same time doing a bit of conservation work as it is bush clearing of bush encroacher plant species too! Good, hard work! While we were busy with this, some of the others got started on the painting project of the classroom walls!



We had our first lion sighting on Amakhala Game Reserve since having arrived here at Ulovane. This was a very exciting moment for quite a few of us who were in the vehicle at that time, as it was the first time seeing a lion in the wild! And as you can see from the pictures, it was a GREAT sighting, a definite five out of five!

One of the subjects we covered this week was astronomy; I found it very interesting to learn about the constellations here, as I am from the northern hemisphere and the star constellations are the same but they appear in the sky at opposing times of the year. I also thought it was very interesting to learn about how the land that we are on today, came to be, in our geology classes.

On Wednesday we had torrential rain and unfortunately for me, it was my turn to drive! As timing would have it, this was my first time driving in these conditions and I was terrified and the vehicle, the land cruiser affectionately named Sullivan, was sliding all over the road. We were taught how to predict and interpret the weather depending on the clouds which I thought was very interesting too!

Something else we learned this week was how to find water in the bush by using natural indicators, as well as what plants are safe to eat. I loved finding out about the plants that we can eat, such as wild garlic. I made a discovery about myself this week too; that I am better under pressure than I thought I was! I was put under a stressful situation when I was driving in such bad circumstances, and I was pleasantly surprised with myself for how I handled it.

And I’m finally getting a tan.


When you have the enthusiasm and the passion, you end up figuring how to excel. – Malika E Nura

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