The end of an incredible 6-month journey has arrived faster than one could ever have imagined!
Ulovane has, once again, ensured for a completely wholesome learning experience and because of this, we feel so well equipped to begin our careers with vigour and excitement at the prospect of the impact we can have on preserving our planet and making sure that we’re the ambassadors for ensuring there are still furry ridged triton and cape keyhole limpet sea creatures still alive in the next 30,40,50 years!
To Candice & Schalk, words will never suffice to deliver the amount of gratitude I and so many others feel for what you do at Ulovane, “the home away from home-for real!”.
Thank you for the love, guidance, support, ethics, morals and outstanding values that are always central to everything you teach us.
To all the instructors, Shani, Pieter & Justin – we wouldn’t have graduated without what you have done for us. You deal with the grumpy, tired, short-fused, happy, laughing, crying bunch of misfits and you never fail to make us believe in ourselves. I have taken away special & important life lessons from each one of you, thank you for all you have taught us, FGASA related or not!
Jacques, thank you for always making light of every situation, no matter how dire we think or feel it is!! Your outlook on life is somewhat inspiring, & from you, I have learnt that if you rise above the storm, you will always find the sunshine.
Mama Joyce and Mama Thabs, without you the camp wouldn’t run nearly as smooth as it does, thank you for everything you do for all of us! Thanks to you too Koen for holding things together and always making sure we have hot showers, comfortable rooms and working equipment that’s in operating condition.
Ulovane, it has been the most intense & memorable 6 months of my life. I have loved, lived, laughed, cried and celebrated. Thank you for going above and beyond standard norms.
The lessons from all three courses has given a sturdy base for the start of our guiding careers; the rest is now up to us! The life lessons that came along too were unexpected, but profoundly rewarding and will stick with us for life.
To all my fellow classmates from every course along the way, we have made special friendships in this beautiful place. Bettina, it was so awesome having you join us for the marines, thank you for your input and all you taught us. Roguey and Roelie- there are no words… We went through it all together and the bond we shared is something to treasure. Thank you for absolutely everything!!
Thank you for this reminder, Shani: “Your life is your message to the world. Make sure it’s inspiring!”
Kind regards, Melissa Gomes. (July 2017 6 month course)
I was one of the lucky ones to attend the 10-week level one course at Ulovane in April 2017. I know that people say this time and time again when reviewing something or writing a testimonial but in this case, I have to say it and when I say it, I truly mean it but… WOW!
I didn’t quite know what to expect on the course but I had a feeling that it was going to be one of the most memorable and exciting things I have ever experienced. they say that you’re gut feeling is never wrong, in this case, it was very far from wrong.
Day one when you arrive you’re warmly welcomed by Ulovane’s amazing team of unbelievably knowledgeable instructors (and let’s not forget Ulovane Master chefs Mama Thabs, who is the Queen of the kitchen and Jacques, who sure knows how to spice up your life ?). Day one is also the day where you get to meet all your fellow students and the people you will be living with for the next 10 weeks. You will feel like you’ve never introduced yourself to so many people and you will definitely be self-conscious of your name after repeating it to so many different people in such a short space of time (hahaha). Repeating your name so many times means that you get as long of a list of names that you will try your hardest to remember, my suggestion is don’t stress about names, it took us all a week before we knew everyone’s names. A thing that I was most fascinated by is the fact that men and women of all ages from various parts of the world all gathered in this one small part of the Eastern Cape and we all shared one thing in common, we all had a passion and a thirst to learn as much as we could about the flora and fauna in the natural environment around us. Oh and let’s not forget the fact that we all wanted to achieve the qualification in Guiding, that comes with the thirst for knowledge.
Over the period of the course, you do admittedly go through the various stages of highs and lows. From the stress of exams to learning 40 different bird calls or having to identify and provide medicinal uses of various plant species found on the reserve. You however get to experience incredible highs of waking up and leaving camp by 6am to reach a certain lookout point that sits above the clouds in order to watch the sunrise which casts a golden sheet over the clouds below you and even the excitement leaving camp after dinner to go swimming in the ice cold dam in search of frogs for your amphibian practical. The highs heavily outweigh the lows, you get to experience so much you never ever dreamed of or imagined doing, like getting involved in a buffalo capture, watching a pair of lions mate metres away from you and even accumulating a really long list of tequilas after stalling the game viewers (one girl got over 20 tequilas but don’t worry, we don’t end up taking the tequila shots haha). Going through everything with the people that you’re with definitely cements lifelong friendships. You end up with the most amazing support system of friends and instructors that will help you through thick and thin for the rest of your life.
The Ulovane campus is green and “off the grid.” It’s situated on a Ridge overlooking the AmakhalaGamee Reserve which is known for its Big 5 and it’s also the reserve where we do all our gain all our practical experience, through game drives, canoe trips and bush walks. However the Ulovane reserve is free of any dangerous game which allows students to explore the natural environment on their own or with friends. I often went off on my own to explore and discover new things when I needed a break from camp and a little alone time. A couple of us students all got together and formed a running club where we’d run different routes around the farm, on these runs we’d often surprise a herd of unsuspecting zebra or impala. Having this freedom to explore nature really contributes to the experience as a whole. As I mentioned Ulovane is off the grid, before life in camp I was always aware of green living but I never really practiced it. After living green (recycling, practicing different sustainable living practices every Saturday and bring exposed to various other methods of greener living) for 10 weeks and practicing ethical guiding I have developed a passion for practicing greener, environmentally conscious methods and I strive to promote greener living as well as ethical guiding. Not many guides realise the importance of guiding ethically, your impact on the environment during a guided experience should always be considered because without the natural environment you don’t have a job and most importantly you lose what you’re passionate about.
Life in camp honestly becomes home, after a while you start calling camp home. After graduating, I went to visit a couple weeks later and when I walked in my first thought was I’m home again.. I recently chatted to a guide who graduated from Ulovane a few years back and he had said that he has never met an Ulovane student who has not been passionate about the academy. He then went on to say that he had never met a student who graduated from another training Academy in the country that has been as passionate about their training Academy as an Ulovane student is about theirs.
So if you’re looking for an amazing wildlife experience, a chance to make lifelong friends, an opportunity to learn amazing new things about the Bush and to go on one of the wildest, most entertaining rides of your life, I can only suggest one place and that’s Ulovane Environmental Training.
P.S. Imagine sitting around a crackling camp fire (after a long day out on drive where you got to see some graceful ballerina like elephant browsing on some picture perfect African thicket and young cheetah cubs with their tear stained faces happily play fighting, honing the much needed skills needed for their futures) with some amazing people while listening to the wild sounds of the African bush after dark. Ulovane….
- Kristin Mace
There really are no words to express my gratitude and happiness for having been introduced to this environmental training centre, and the pride of which I feel for having completed my nature field guide training through Ulovane.
What they offer is so well rounded and all-encompassing, often going completely above and beyond the stipulated quota of what it is we ‘need to know’.
I really have conservation and education very close to my heart, for I believe this is exactly where our world is falling short; if you are educated on something, then you have the chance to positively make an impact.
It was heartening to be involved with some local communities in the area, as well and being able to get real physical and practical with conservation work on the reserve and in surrounding areas too. There are not many more things more rewarding than being able to physically see a difference one has made by just a little bit of attention and care. One of the biggest things that struck me about Ulovane is the attention to the detail they put into every aspect of the course. And for me, that’s important, because, at the end of the day, the Little things ARE the big things!
There is such a support structure that comes with living at Ulovane, it’s home from the second you walk in the door! When I arrived there, I knew I was in for an incredible journey, but I have left these 10 weeks a different person to the one who walked in on the 9th of July! The personal growth and life lessons I have gained were definitely not bargained for – but that’s exactly what makes it so beautiful!
We were a small course, one of the smallest yet for field guides, but the instructors made each and every second worth our while, most times doing so much more than was required! For that, I am so very grateful because of the exposure we’ve had in just two short months.
I can’t compare any other training centre to this; I don’t need to.
We always end up where we’re meant to be, and not for one single second do I believe I would have gotten a better start to my career anywhere else, than what I have gotten here.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, for the laughter, the tears, the hard work, the cement mixing, the braais, the walks, the drives, the lessons, the banter, but most of all, for the love and support you’ve shown us! You’re moulding strength and wisdom into many young people, I hope we go forth into the industry and make you all proud!
If you have the chance to make a difference, even by just putting a smile on someone’s face, do it – The world needs more of that!
Kind regards, Melissa Gomes.
I came to Ulovane on a 4-week program designed for Savannah/Wet Tropics guides in Australia. We participated in class and practical training for field, trail and marine guides. It was very interesting to witness the new generation of guides ” in the making”. I was full of admiration for the professionalism, dedication and deep knowledge of the trainers and impressed with the range of subjects thought during the courses. Every day brought a new adventure, something new to learn and discover. Never a dull moment, like in a big family in a lively household where through character building experiences people bond, form friendships, awareness expands. Exceptional trainers: Shani, Peter, Justin and the adopted parents: Candice and Schalk, people with passion and deep respect and feel for bush and nature. And “behind the scenes” heroes: Jacques, Mamma Thabs and Joyce who were keeping us well fed and clean. Thank you to the Ulovane team for an awesome experience. – Sylvia Pecinska (May 2017 Savannah Guides)
From the moment I stepped out of the plane and into Eastern Cape. I knew I was in for an amazing adventure. However, I didn’t realise the magnitude of the experience that I was about to receive from Ulovane Environmental Training. After the meet and greet, I was ready to settle in at Eastern Cape and to start to paint my new picture of my wilderness experience at Ulovane Environmental Training. With a dynamic group of new friends at this new environment, it took time for me to adjust but it shaped the amazing experiences I had at Ulovane Environmental Training for the last 17weeks. After countless hours absorbing some principles of ecology, fundamentals of using a rifle and other aspects of being in the wilderness, I started to enjoy the beauty of being in the pure wilderness on foot for hours. Sometimes, I would just get up early in the morning and just get lost in the wilderness of Amakhala game reserve, I would sit and observe how everything revolves around another on the horizon, I would track wildlife and feel the footprint they left behind, smell the strong scents of their territories and hear the incredible little creatures above the earth working jointly to shape our environment. This incredible experience moved me, it took my passion for wildlife into a whole new perspective; It taught me to appreciate nature even more than before! My newly acquired knowledge of wilderness was vital to my full comprehension of my surroundings. I felt like this course has unlocked my sixth sense! Thanks to my trainers Schalk, Pieter, Justin and Shani, many new friends that I made through this program and everyone at Ulovane environment training for a lifetime experience! Lastly, it was such an honour to be assessed by one of the legend master tracker in SA Adriaan Louw. – Shatri Mfinanga – April 2017