Apprentice Field Guides Week 9
Week nine, yes week 9, can you believe it! This week of the Apprentice Field guide course has been filled with final practical assessments, from a slide and sound observation in the classroom to final game drive assessments and field observation walks! A busy, exciting week filled with many incredible sightings that Francois has shared with you all below!
Our second last week here at Ulovane as Apprentice Field guides started with our field observation practical where we needed to identify plants, animals, animal tracks, bird calls, and any other signs of animals that were present. The night before and the early morning were saturated with rain and some of us were hoping that it would be postponed. However, to our dismay, the weather cleared up and we began our journey. After our walk in the field, we had an afternoon to study for our BIG slide and sound exam on Tuesday! This took us all a few hours to complete!
Halfway through the week, we gathered for a morning model game drive performed by Justin. I was surprised when I came into the lodge and saw a whole other side of him! He prepared an entire coffee table that was elegantly presented, and he looked very professional in his outfit. The vehicle was neat too, and extremely clean. The drive was incredibly interesting; I could see the knowledge and experience gap between how students conduct drives and how a professional guide conducts their drives.
We went onto the Canarvondale side of Amakhala Game Reserve, to view the recently released young female cheetah. After driving around and franticly searching for the cheetah, we saw her pouncing between bushes chasing after a common duiker. Although it was a chase, it looked like the cheetah was still learning how to hunt and figuring out her new environment! That afternoon we went on Mikaela’s last assessment drive, which went well and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. It was also the first drive on our diesel Land Rover “Theo” after he got a little upgrade!
The day arrived for my first assessment game drive, to which I woke at 4.30 to prepare for! I had cleaned my car the night before, but the rain came down quite hard too, so I dried the vehicle and covered the seats with towels to ensure the guests on my drive were dry.
I was a bit nervous at first when I did not see any animals during the beginning of the drive, but then I found topics to talk about and confidence grew as I started enjoying the drive more and more. On our game drive, we mostly listened to birds and tried to identify them. The other notable animal we saw on the drive were two elephants and later we saw the herd marching up a hill.
At my drinks stop I noticed that I forgot to pack in my tablecloth; without panicking I grabbed an unused towel and re-purposed it as a tablecloth in the hopes that my assessor was none the wiser, and I am pleased to say it worked!
At the end of the drive, we came back to bacon and egg buns waiting for us for lunch! I piled bacon on a bun and sat outside with my assessor ready to eat all my stress away just to find out that they were really impressed with my drive!
That afternoon I was the driver for my friend Anathi. We had it all planned out until she noticed that another vehicle was blocking the route we planned. We drove around a bit confused for a while after this, but still managed to conduct a game drive. We got soaked by the rain on our way back; I was surprised to not have hit any bumps as I could barely see through the rain!
The week ended with myself being the only guest on my friend Zolani’s vehicle. The drive was fun and interesting, we had lots to talk about and plenty to see. This week too, we said farewell to Piet, and our friend Mikaela left on Friday morning, which made the place feel a little emptier.
“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” –E.E. Cummings