This is by far the best experience of my life!!
I arrived in South Africa 3 months ago, passed the Apprentice Field Guide course successfully and now I have just begun the Apprentice Trails Guide course.
In the field guide course, my knowledge of the environment improved so much more than I could imagine in such a short period of time. I arrived here knowing very little, now I understand how everything is linked and how every little individual has his role to play to keep the balance of nature. Because of the field guide course, I am now able to entertain guests safely during a guided experience, without necessarily only chasing the big 5, but most of all showing them how beautiful nature is as a whole.
My next mission is to complete the Apprentice Trails Guide course successfully within the next few weeks. The first thing I must say is that after only my first week of this course, I have learned much more about myself in that little amount of time than ever in my life!
Handling a rifle is not easy, a lot of things happen in my mind when loading, aiming, and pulling the trigger, but it is so exciting and is definitely one of the most valuable experiences I have had before.
I want to thank the people who have made this possible. Schalk & Candice, Tatum, Jacques, and most of all Piet. Piet is our trainer for the trails guide course and I must admit that he is one of the most impressive and knowledgeable people I have ever met. I admire him as much as I admire Schalk for the ethical point of view that they have about nature. With him as my trainer, I know that he is going to push me to my maximum potential to reach my goals. I know he will give me all the training needed to succeed in this second course.
With all my heart, thank you all so much!
“Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.” – Frank Herbert
As Apprentice Trails Guide students, we have learned and experienced amazing encounters with many different animals, big and small, on foot.
This week we as students started walking with rifles, which on its own was challenging but exciting. On my first day of walking with the rifle, we had a few different encounters, one of them being a Buffalo herd who suddenly appeared in front of us during our first walk of the week, our only escape route was into the thickets next to us… As we walked through the thickets, my heart pumping in my ears, about 300m later we bumped into some lions which definitely surprised us all! During these situations, we learned how to stay focused, responsible and ethical even in stressful situations. One of the biggest things we have had to focus on is keeping guest and animal safety in mind throughout our walks.
Another aspect of the trail’s course that I have been enjoying the most is the trailing of animals and the tracking we learn which is just phenomenal. To walk in the bush is an honor and the knowledge of the Trainers here lets you realize it. Just Amazing!
“If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk.”– Raymond Inmon
It was my wish to become a trails guide one day and I was lucky enough to be granted the Amakhala/Ulovane bursary to join the trails guide course at Ulovane which I did not have to think twice about before grabbing the opportunity as I was so excited and happy!
Firstly, I would like to give many thanks to very important people who are the pillars of Ulovane Environmental Training, Schalk, Piet, Candice, Tatum and Jacques.
I have been guiding for a few years on Amakhala Game Reserve but have never had time to walk around the reserve, I only know it from the game viewer. Being on foot was my goal but my fear was to have a rifle with me, I have never used one before.
The Apprentice Trails Guide course started with 3 strangers with love for the great outdoors and ended as an awesome little family, many memories made and experiences shared that will last forever.
Piet Dunn is our mentor, what a good-hearted and very patient man. I have never met such a knowledgeable person like him.
From day one we were introduced to the bush, walking and exploring the big and small things nature has to offer us. Each time we go out there is so much information to learn from Piet. I just say to myself, I wish I can be like him one day but Piet always says everyone has his own way of guiding and that we shouldn’t try to be what we are not, be who we are.
I won’t forget the word he told us about guiding, he said there are two groups of guides the 90% and the 10%. The 10% do their guiding with new things every day through research and the 90% do the same thing every day. Through Piet’s training, I am going to be in the 10% group. THANK YOU, PIET!
Since I have been here, I have learned a lot from Piet and Schalk which includes the history of Amakhala, birds, plants, and animal behavior just to name a few. Piet taught me how to handle a rifle the correct way, now I don’t have that fear of working with a rifle anymore.
Every week we write exams which helps a lot to make sure everyone understands what we have covered in that past week.
Tracks and signs are a big part of the trails guide course of which I had no idea of how important and exciting it is. If anyone is thinking of learning and enjoying tracks and signs I really recommend you to come and meet Piet and Schalk, you will thank me later.
The training and skills you gain will push you out of your comfort zone and give you positive little nudges into trusting yourself more, having confidence and determination to achieve your goals. Being surrounded by knowledgeable people and mentors like Piet and Schalk, you become inspired to put in the work to follow your dreams.
Again, thank you, Piet, Schalk, and the whole Ulovane team.
“Even the smallest changes in our daily routine can create incredible ripple effects that expand our vision of what is possible.”― Charles F. Glassman.