Apprentice Trails Guides Week 3
To start off the week, we headed out for our first trails walk with no intention of tracking anything, just to get the feel of things out there. However, we were fortunate enough to come across the pride of lions right outside the Amakhala Conservation Centre. We thus gained our first encounter being just 70 meters away from these beautiful animals! We all felt very safe with Piet as Lead Guide and Adriaan as 2nd rifle. The way we stalked up and got closer to the one male and female without them being aware of our presence was a pure understanding of how much our Guides really do know what they are doing out there. It was an EPIC experience!! There are no pics to share due to just being in the moment!
Our second walk started off with a beautiful sighting of two massive white rhino females just as the sun rose over the horizon. We got in and out of the sighting without them knowing we were in their presence which was a success on its own. Throughout the day, we walked through the plains and thicket looking at animal tracks and signs, gaining important knowledge about the bush. We were lucky enough to come across a giant elephant bull in the river line. This was definitely one of the most amazing sightings for all of us during our time at Ulovane so far! The elephant bull was calmly mud bathing himself, trying with all his might to cool himself down in the scorching heat, whilst we all stood an odd 50 meters or so away from him observing his every move. Absolutely incredible!
The heat really started to get to us at this stage, so we slowly started making our way back towards the vehicle with a decent walk still ahead of us. Then all of a sudden, things became very interesting as we walked into a white rhino female with her calf. We had no idea they were behind the bush in front of us and the next thing we knew we were basically on top of them, somewhat 5 meters away. We all got the fright of our lives! I have never had adrenaline pump through my body the way it did when we encountered those white rhinos at that distance! It gave us a clear indication of how quickly things can escalate out there. In the end, we had a very successful day of walking, obtaining 6 encounters throughout the day. What an experience of a walk that was! It is going to be very difficult to top this walk I must say with the amazing sightings we were blessed to come across!
To end off the week we went out with Shani and Brett for a Friday fun day, with the main focus being on tracking. We came across some very interesting tracks and signs, including a lot of different types of dung. A lot of knowledge was gained, and many laughs were shared.
What a first week of walking and tracking it has been! We are very fortunate to have a mentor like Piet to lead us through the duration of the course and I think we can all say he is a huge inspiration to all of us on the course.
We cannot wait for this next week to come and what it has to offer!
An understanding of the natural world and what’s in it is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfillment. David Attenborough