Ulovane Update: January 2018 Backup Trails Guide Final
The first course of 2018 has come to an end, and what a course it has been. I have to start off by giving a huge congratulation to the 6 trails students we had the privilege of mentoring the last 7 weeks. The accolades they achieved has been some of the highest results we have ever seen on a back-up trails course and the extra effort they have put in did definitely not go unnoticed.
One of these efforts can’t really go unnoticed, might have something to do with its size. We undertook a project of building our own pizza oven at camp as an extra project for some new skill development and group dynamics, and wow has it been great fun. Almost every day would start the same, the whole team just staring at the structure for 20 minutes to try and figure out our next move. With only a few final touches to go, even working on the oven on their last day of the course, they made a new monument at camp that will forever be remembered by me as one of the biggest projects I have seen a group undertake and doing so with such commitment and enjoyment. It is a real shame they cannot taste the first pizza that comes out, but I’m pretty sure we will have a reunion just for that at some point in the future. Thank you very much for all the time and effort you all put into the oven, it is going to be an amazing addition to the camp.
Then there was the time we had in the field, which obviously will always be filled with incredible experiences and memories. During the course we had some truly amazing sightings from dung beetles fighting over dung balls to spiders catching crickets, lion stalking warthogs while we on foot to my hat being killed by one of the sub-adult lionesses after I forgot it in a tree (oops). No matter how long you do this, every day is filled with brand new experiences and learning curves.
I do not think that the year could have started any better or to have had a better group to work with than what we had. To Grant and Jill continuing with Marines and Henco joining Aislinn on the Birding course good luck for the four of you. As for the three chaps, Snus, Nik and Toby….I wish you all the best in your future endeavours and hope our paths cross again soon, it was an honour and a privilege.
- Pieter Dunn – Backup Trails Guide Lead Trainer
Incredible 7 Weeks!
This week the trails course is sadly coming to an end. The last week was very intense, kicking off with assessment walks. Other than the final exam, these walks are one of the biggest steps to take and pass in this course. Every single one of us were both excited and nervous at the same time…this was the moment that we had all been waiting for.
Three days in a row we got up at 5 am to walk for 6-7 hours. We had some very nice sightings, saw a lot of interesting tracks and all the fascinating small things that nature has to offer.
One of my favorite moments was on our last day of walking where we found the giraffes.
They were not really bothered by us and we decided to sit down in front of a bush and enjoy the view for a little while in the shade. These huge, elegant animals fascinate me every single time.
Everyone passed their assessment walks and the last day arrived faster than expected. We learned so many things in the last 7 weeks, but the most valuable lesson our instructors gave us is, that the small things in nature can sometimes be even more valuable and fascinating than the big ones.
The trails course is by far the most intense experience I’ve ever had. Every walk we went on was different every time, which also made it very interesting & exciting! In these 7 weeks you’ll reach your limits, get back up and be stronger than before.
This course was life changing and that is mainly due to our instructors. We can’t thank you and the whole Ulovane team enough for everything!!!
Sometimes all we need is a little help from our friends.
And so came the day that we say goodbye to yet another three great souls – Nik, Tobi (aka T-bone or Dobi) and Oscar (better known as Snaus). Nik, intelligent and quiet – a great guy all around and with a keen eye in the bush. Tobi and Snaus, well what can I say – thank you for always keeping everyone’s spirits up with your crazy jokes and ideas. I hope those imaginations stay alive!
To Henco and Aislinn who are staying on for the birding course, GOOD LUCK AND ENJOY.
To Grant and Jill – we will see you guys on the beach and in the ocean!
These guys just spend the last seven weeks together – first learning all about rifle safety, then how to shoot straight and all the legal stuff about shooting. Then came the Advanced Rifle Handling assessment which lays down the foundation for professional and efficient rifle handling – not an easy thing to pass! Then came the hours upon hours of bush walks, throw in a tracking assessment (they all got a level!!! Well done!!), some more exams and final Back up Trails Guide Assessments, and there you have it. Before you open your eyes, it’s all done. Seven weeks are over. Seven weeks of learning, laughing, fun, crying, hard times, difficult times – seven weeks of learning how to see the bush and everyday life through different eyes.
Being on foot in the bush teaches you to stay focused. You need to be able to pick up the smallest of disturbances out there – it might be as small as a little pebble which has been dislodged by a rhinos’ foot or the faint tracks of a lioness crossing the animal footpath you are walking on. Your sense of smell becomes more acute and your ears start turning in all directions trying to pick up strange sounds in the bush. You have to blend in with the bush in all ways possile. Like an Ulovane.
Another great thing that you learn is how to trust other people and how it feels to be trusted. When you walking up front with a group of people behind you through the bush is a feeling in itself – never in your life have you concentrated as much!
Being a trails guide adds a couple of very important life skills to your repertoire. These are skills that sadly a lot of us have lost through technology such as smart phones and apps and google. These are skills that you can only pick up being out in nature. These are skills that you can only hone when you out in nature.
Apart from the skills acquired and life lessons learnt, you make friends. Some of which will stay a lifetime. Sometimes all we need is a little help from our friends.
Guys and Gals- it was a pleasure to meet you and get to know all of you and share in your crazy lives!
We will miss you Nik, Tobi and Snaus!! Good luck for all of your future endeavors.
Grant, Aish, Henco and Jill – we look forward to the next chapter!!
- Shani Preller – Trainer
We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give. – Winston Churchill