Marine Guides Week 1
Lara is here to share with you the exciting first week of the marine guide course! She last wrote to you in her Apprentice Trails guide course in January! What an exciting first week it has been!
We set off from Ulovane towards our new ‘home’ at the beach house in Kenton-on-sea, for the next four weeks. We left excited to learn and absorb all the new things about our beautiful blue ocean. Little did we know how much work and how complex the ocean really is!
We arrived in the beautiful Kenton-on-sea, to our house that overlooks an estuary leading into the sea. We unpacked and immediately went on a walk along the beach and through the rocky pools looking for anything we could find. The next day we went snorkelling in a rock pool and I just want to add, that a wetsuit is an amazing thing, but honestly, they need to find a way to get into a wetsuit easier!! My roommate Chanté and I had a good laugh getting into these things because you get yourself in positions you never had to before, trying to wriggle into these things! Eventually, when we got into them and got into the water to snorkel, we saw some amazing fish. We saw black tails, zebrafish even a pufferfish, and we also saw a red rock crab. The underwater world is a completely different beauty than what we are used to seeing on land.
Later on in the week, we went exploring in the rock pools to see what we could find and learnt about sea plants as well; we harvested some of them and took them back to the house, spending the afternoon identifying and learning about them. On one of our early morning walks, we got side-tracked once more to rock pools and I found an octopus! According to my roommate’s description of me, I looked like a ‘Texan who had just found gold’, but that’s how excited I was at my find!
I have come to realise why this place is called Ulovane. Yes, it means chameleon, but a chameleon changes its colours and that’s what happens when you are here; you change everything and become who you really are inside. I’m learning even more about myself than I have ever before, and I have come to realise that I’m very smart, not super smart, but smarter than I thought I was! I’m friendly and have an adventurous spirit and I’m VERY curious about everything, wanting to learn as much as I can!! So, I just want to say thank you for creating this gem of a place and thank you to nature too.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr Seuss
Apprentice Field Guides
Nico is from South Africa and is here with us for the ten-week apprentice field guide course. Eight weeks into their course, Nico has a wonderful story to share with you all, of his time here this far.
It feels like only yesterday that I drove up to the Ulovane gate feeling nervous, excited and everything in between. It’s really hard to believe we only have two weeks left on Ulovane. The memories and friends that have been made are priceless and I can’t imagine being anywhere else but here right now.
Ulovane has been good to me, not only in teaching me so much about the bush and my surroundings but about life and how we as humans fit into the ecosystem and that we have a great responsibility to protect and conserve nature for future generations.
After a long and hard eight weeks of learning and exams, we are heading into the final stages of the course with two weeks remaining until the big exam and practical drives starting this weekend. Nerves are running at an all-time high, but excitement is even higher.
Our week began with lots of final cramming for a massive slide and sound exam in the afternoon, that consisted of everything and anything, from birds to arthropods, all sorts of interesting animal noises out in the African bush, to reptiles and amphibians! We also had our final practical assessment on the beautiful Ulovane Reserve, where we went for a walk with Justin, who pointed out 50 things for us to I.D; anything from flowers, grasses, trees, to tracks, bird calls, insects and reptiles!
Mid-week dawned upon us with what felt like a hectic morning, with everyone running around stressing about the Amakhala Game Reserve exam we must write and pass before we are able to conduct guided drives on the drives. The exam contains some of the history of the reserve, as well as a lot of other interesting facts that Amakhala contains, for example, did you know that the first dinosaur fossil in South Africa (Paranthadon africanus) was found on Amakhala close to Hilsnek lodge in 1845 by a gentleman, William Atherstone. It is now viewable at the Albany Museum in Grahamstown! Amakhala was once farmland and was converted to a game reserve in October 1999. Lots of history in this beautiful place!
Thursday morning was a very, very early morning start with a few of us heading out onto the reserve with Schalk to do some filming for an Ulovane promotion video! Afterward, we all had our final track and sign assessments; one of my favorites, but a puzzling subject, trying to find out what the story behind the track is, trying to picture what and how things happened.
The end of week eight slowed down marginally, but it is only the calm before the storm as some of the first assessment drives started on Saturday. We had an awesome morning game drive to start off our Friday, with a lioness almost sniffing Veer’s feet on the tracker seat, then taking a snooze a mere 10m next to the game viewer, with her king joining her soon after for a cuddle.
I have learned more then I could have ever imagined in my time here. My passion for wildlife has grown beyond belief and I would like to thank the Ulovane team and Amakhala Game Reserve for giving me this opportunity, but above all to Mark Palmer, who made a big impact in my life in a very short time and for helping me to get this amazing opportunity.
Good luck to all my fellow students on the assessment drives.
“You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be seeing great sights! You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.” – Dr Seuss