Apprentice Field Guides
Dominic has written a wonderful concise account of some of his favorite moments thus far in their Apprentice Field guide course! Dominic is a local chap from Port Elizabeth, who matriculated from Grey High School last year and is now following his dream to become a Field Guide!
The wait to start the rest of our life seemed like an eternity. We finally made it to what we now refer to as home, Ulovane!
The last 7 weeks have been absolutely amazing, and we have been filled to the brim with knowledge! Ulovane has shown us the ropes in all aspects of guiding, giving us the best start that we could have asked for.
From our very first ‘Fact Uber’ in Ulovane’s trusty Land Rover, Theo, Justin continuously lead by example and gave us a wonderful drive. We saw the elephants for the first time and our guide and mentor showed us the required respect all animals need.
The most special and memorable sighting we have had of our ‘Fat Ninjas’, as referred to by Reece, a fellow student, was on our sleep out with the Apprentice Trails guide students on Amakhala Game Reserve. The elephants tiptoed into our camp while we were sleeping and we spent most of the night in the vehicle with our two Elephant Whisperer’s, Piet and Schalk, keeping the herd at bay. My highlight of that evening was when myself and Tim were on Night-Watch and we had just swopped with the previous team, when suddenly I could just hear myself thinking out loud, ‘Piet! Piet! Elephant!’ This call-out wasn’t one of the manliest moments I’ve had in my life this far.
On one of our early Funday Friday’s, Melissa asked us as a group, ’What makes a good guide?’ I struggled to find an answer I was genuinely happy with, and the question boggled my brain for a good while. To find a clearer answer, I contacted a young guide in the Lowveld. His answer was that a guided experience is when a guide shares factual information about nature and wildlife, in an enthusiastic way, to help further guests’ knowledge through the guide’s interpretation.
After my many religious Sunday phone calls with my parents, a question was raised, “What have you noticed about being away from the Windy City?” My answer hasn’t changed, and I don’t think it ever will. I replied by saying, “Four surrounding walls are a false sense of security that just isn’t for me. I need Nature and one day I hope to be able to say that Nature Needs Me!”
The family structure at Ulovane has taught me that friends can become family and that there is always a need for the special human beings in the guiding industry.
“Do what you love and success will follow. Passion is the fuel behind a successful career.” – Meg Whitman
Apprentice Trails Guides
Megan joined Ulovane for our six-month course; having completed her Apprentice Field, and now Apprentice Trails guide course, she is off on the next four-week adventure for the Marine guide course! Megan has written a wonderful account of her time on Trails, what she has learnt, and all she has discovered about herself.
This was the last week of The Apprentice Trails guide course, we head off to the Beach Campus on Sunday for our Marine Guide course. I cannot believe these last 7 weeks have flown by so quickly!
It’s been an exciting seven weeks and an amazing experience, through which I’ve learned so much. Going on bush walks really allows you to appreciate nature so much more. Especially all the small things, like the calls of birds, to the insects and tracks left behind by animals; all the things you don’t really notice as much from a vehicle.
In my time this far here at Ulovane, I feel like I’ve really grown, especially through this course. I’ve learned so much about myself. My favorite part of the Trails course was definitely tracking!! All our little practice rounds with Piet and Shani were helpful and enjoyable. The encounters we’ve had on this course have been absolutely amazing. And I’m so proud of the guys for doing so well. Such an unforgettable experience.
As a final week to our course, however, this week was enjoyable. We had final assessment walks from Monday through to Wednesday and I feel as though they were some of the best walks I’ve had. We focused so much more than usual on the little things since we realised our walks were coming to an end. We had amazing encounters with dangerous game as well. I will never forget the warthog behind the bush that made me run for my life. So much for the rule of “don’t run”.
Scary how much noise a warthog can make, making us think there may instead be a Buffalo behind that bush!
The Advanced Rifle Handling (A.R.H) that we do on this course, helped me realise and learn where my limitations are, showing me both things that I am, and am not, mentally prepared for. It was a challenging time for me in the first two weeks during the A.R.H but Piet was a great help and I am thankful to have had him as a mentor. I’ve also noticed that I’m a lot more comfortable in my own skin.
I also have a newfound enjoyment, tracking! It was definitely not something I enjoyed at all but now I really do love and enjoy doing it. And I really hope I can try for the next level soon!
Trails also taught me just how much of a responsibility it is to go out there with guests, especially on foot, but also from a vehicle-based guiding perspective too. Learning more about these animals, especially focusing on animal behavior, has allowed me to gain so much more respect for them and I feel as though doing this Trails course has changed my mindset and it’s definitely something that will change my whole way of thinking for drives as well.
Trails definitely teaches you more about observation than Field guides does, and to use your senses much more, as, on a bushwalk, this is what you are reliant upon for both the safety of the animals and your guests.
We end our time on this course with our final FGASA Apprentice Trails guide exam being written on Friday, and then an extremely exciting ‘Mexican’ themed evening which the Field Guides are hosting for our graduation! I am excited and keen to see what they have in store for us.
“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experiences that reveals the human spirit.” – E.E. Cummings