Apprentice Trails Guides
Our Apprentice Trails guides have two more weeks left of their course! The time has gone so quickly! Hannah has a wonderful story of the adventures they went on in week five!
We departed from camp in the early hours of Monday morning, where we set off for our three-day sleep-out on Amakhala Game Reserve. We were surrounded by a layer of mist that was hanging over the basin of the reserve, which would make for very tricky and unsafe walking conditions for both the animals and ourselves, so we had to delay our walk by an hour. As the mist cleared, we made our way out through a small gate and were very soon greeted by the sound and sight of an elephant herd who were nestled in the river line below us. We observed them from above before embarking on our long journey.
This was my first day walking with a rifle on a walk, which felt very foreign at first but after a few hours, it becomes a lot more comfortable. We were led on our walk by Maurice and Dominic to our first camping spot, on an area of the reserve known as ‘Kudu Kloof’. It was a long, hard walk, but it was worth the trek. We set up camp at a camping spot that looked out over the reserve, and got a fire going for some warm water for coffee! It was a peaceful night, and I think most of us got a good night’s rest.
The next morning, we woke up to a wet sleeping bag and the fresh smell of the bush. We started off the morning with a golden hour while watching the sunrise. We then got ready to set off again. We had a tough start, climbing the ridge with dense thicket vegetation, but we eventually made it to the top, out into a more open area.
On the second day of our excursion, Adriaan and Tyler were walking on first and second rifle, and they led us to our second campsite for our final night on the reserve. On the way there, they each pointed out various tracks and signs that were interesting to learn about. Just as we were about to reach our second camping spot, we were pleasantly surprised by an elephant bull strolling around. We managed to have a nice encounter with him until he eventually ambled off carrying on with his day.
We reached our spot and we immediately started working on our natural products. Some of the things the students made included spears, survival kits, and animal traps that could be used if one were stranded in the bush and had to find their own food source to survive. We had an early night to get some good rest in before our last walk.
We set off on our final walk where we focused on a lot of tracking. We had a little practice tracking assessment at one of the pans in an area of the reserve referred to as ‘Newlands’. The tracks we saw included warthog, honey badger, and the sign Swallows leave behind after they have collected mud for their nests. Overall, the day was enjoyable! We arrived back at camp to a delicious meal prepared by Jacques. We were all exhausted by the end of the day and took an early night.
We had a day full of shooting on Thursday, with our first stop at the outdoor A.R.H shooting range, whereafter we then made our way to ‘jungle lane’, where we had a full day of fun, laughter, stress, and excitement.
Our week ended off with a short walk around the ‘plaat’ section of Amakhala, which was quite an intricate walk, where we learned a lot of new things. We saw an Addo Flightless dung beetle, inchworms, garbage line spiders, and a striped grass snake or cross-marked whip snake. A remarkably interesting and exciting week with many skills and a lot of knowledge gained!
“I throw back my head, and, feeling free as the wind, breathe in the fresh mountain air. Although I am heavy-hearted, my spirits are rising. To walk in nature is always good medicine.”―