Share this blog with someone

Ulovane Update: Trails Week 6 & Field Guides Week 1




Apprentice Trails Guides Week 6 = TRACKING!

The second last week of the Apprentice Trails guide course has crept upon us! Week six is always a long and busy week, but the Apprentice Trails students did a great job on their Cybertracker Track & Sign evaluation this weekend! Dom has written more for you all on this week.
This past week had already been planned for our group of Apprentice Trails Guides weeks in advance. Our second last week of the course was set to be focused on Tracking.
We all set out early on Monday morning, in Ulovane’s trusty Toyota Land Cruiser, with us being out and about before the sun snuck over the horizon. The day was set to be focused on all types of tracks, ranging from frogs to elephants. The day was a great opportunity for the photographers of the group to catch some wonderful shots! I felt that the tracking on this day opened my eyes to how small things should not be overlooked.

Tuesday was a day with questions on tracks that were generally easy, but our training coordinator managed to find the most unusual tracks in the most unusual places. The gate we use to enter Amakhala Private Game Reserve had a set of Cape Clawless Otter tracks, depicting the animal that went marching down the road. We all managed to improve with the tracks on this day. It was the first day I managed to achieve over 70% for a tracking assessment, which boosted my confidence to an extreme.
Wednesday was another early morning in the only province in South Africa that experiences all four seasons in a single day. The morning was rather chilly, and I feel made the brains a tad slower than usual, but after a few sets we managed to pull through and all showed signs of improvement. With the high morale from the days tracking, we all realised that we needed to study for the mock exam on Friday. This is when a saying that the three Grey High School boys remembered from the head of discipline kicked in, which is, ‘Head in Books, Hands-on Pens’. Hopefully, this paid off.

View from the Deck at Ulovane Campus

Thursday was set for questions from workbooks and studying for the mock exam. I don’t recall the camp being so quiet, due to everybody studying in all corners of the camp. The silence could have been broken with the dripping of a tap, or the click of a pen!
We all awoke before the sun and Fiery-Necked Nightjars, to try cram as much knowledge as possible, on animal behavior, into our fatigued minds. We waited anxiously for Melissa to bring down the papers that Pieter had made us fear as if it were a female White Rhino with her calf! The paper went rather well, after which we then decided on walking the beautiful campus of Ulovane Reserve to look for birds and some unique tracks. We were spoilt to a braai in the evening putting us all in good spirits for the tracking assessment over the weekend.
The weekend’s Cybertracker Track & Sign evaluation was a great learning experience. The group excelled and achieved outstanding results for a rather challenging tracking assessment. We can be very thankful that Taryn Ingram-Gilson from Down to Earth Nature Training, was our Assessor, as she continuously kept us on our toes with some unique tracks and great explanations on the tracks.
The nerves have started to sink in for all the students as our fun-filled course is coming to an end with a busy week of assessment trails walks and final exams ahead.

“Dreams give you personality. They give you a reason to live.”
― P.S. Scott

Apprentice Field Guides Week 1 = Welcome to the Team

A very warm welcome to our October group of Apprentice Field guide students! An exciting and fun-filled first week they have had! From elephant herds crossing the open plains in front of the vehicle to a pair of mating lions and plant discoveries on Amakhala Game Reserve, the first week has been wonderful! Hein is here to bring you his experiences of their first week here at Ulovane.

One of the most exciting experiences in my first week here at Ulovane, was when I had a rare opportunity of viewing lions in their natural environment. It is the closest I’ve ever been to them!  It really was a rare and unique opportunity that I’ve never experienced in my life before, it was absolutely breathtaking.
The lectures and theory that are given at Ulovane are amazing. One of the classes that we had this week, that was given to us by Ben, the landowner of Ulovane was an astronomy lecture. It was one of the most interesting lectures I’ve ever sat in! During the lecture, we were taught about many different constellations, but the one that really stood out to me was the constellation of ‘Scorpio’, with the most prominent star in this constellation being ‘Antares’. It is HUGE. This really made me think about the universe and the Galaxy and just how small we are in it!
Ulovane teaches so many great skills. Amongst them is the ability to look and listen to the bush, to let the bush tell the story for you.  Ulovane has already opened my eyes to the amount of diversity of plants out there, and how they all work together with such synchronicity with one another. There are so many natural remedies and medicines that we in the Western world have forgotten about. I’m so grateful for this experience; the knowledge I have obtained already is absolutely priceless.

“Even when you feel like you’re a very small flame struggling to flicker in the darkness, you are still radiant to a universe that needs you”― Helena Jayne Bryant