Apprentice Field Guides Week 3
We are now 3, almost 4, weeks into the Apprentice Field Guide course and this week has been nothing short of amazing! We have had many special animal sightings while out in the field as well as many challenges in the classroom while completing the biomes, ecology, and taxonomy modules.
On the game drive this Tuesday we came across a group of giraffe. We had seen giraffes before but not this many of them at the same time. The group consisted of six giraffes and one of the giraffes started to approach us. Eventually, the giraffe was about 15 meters away from us, and at that point, you really start to realize how big these animals are, which was quite impressive. When we continued our drive, we were looking for a herd of buffalo. We heard through the radio that there was a “hlambe of Inyati”, which means a herd of buffalo in Xhosa. Xhosa is the language that guides use over the radio to refer to the animals on the reserve. You never know whether you will find the animals you are looking for, but luckily, we managed to find the herd of buffalo. Just like the giraffe, the buffalo came very close to the vehicle. Some of us found it intimidating at the moment. But now that we look back at it, it was quite amazing to experience. So many big animals being close to you. Despite their intimidating size and look, they were actually really calm and didn’t mind us being there as long as we kept our distance.
The next day we went on a morning game drive and we were out in hopes of finding a herd of elephants. Unlike the herd of buffalo, we immediately stumbled upon two elephants after we went through the gate of the reserve. We followed these two elephants and they led us to their herd. We found ourselves in the middle of the herd. With elephants to our left, right and in front of us. Just like the other experiences, it was quite intimidating and yet truly amazing to experience.
I would describe the week we had as adventurous, but also very educational. We have been through amazing experiences and learned a lot about the behavior of certain animals.
“The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” – Alexander Supertramp Mccandless
Apprentice Field Guides Week 4
LEARNING BY DOING- thanks Covid
After working for more than 35 years in the travel and tourism industry, the Covid-19 pandemic gave me the time to stay 9 weeks away from my office and find a new world. In traveling all those years over all continents of our beautiful world, I recognized more and more, that nature is much more than it seems to be.
Now nearly half of the course has gone by and slowly, slowly the puzzles of Geology, Climate, and Weather, Astronomy, Ecology, Biomes (never heard before), Taxonomy and Plants fit together more every day. The objects you notice first when you´re starting to spectate on an apprentice field guide course, like Mammals, Birds, or Animal Behaviour are still coming in the next few weeks.
This week we learned the basics about plants: trees, grasses, and wildflowers. Until last week, a leaf was just a leaf to me. Now I see a new world when I see, touch, or smell a leaf. How is its structure, how are they arranged, etc
For me, the most amazing thing of the last part of the course is to sit in a car with a man, who is rooted in nature since his childhood, Schalk. You cannot imagine, how he can drive on a road, which needs all his concentration not to damage the car, and while doing this, watch out for animals around us and for tracks beside the car, all while also hearing 3 different birds-calls at the same time and in the other ear catch all the words that are spoken by 11 students sitting around him.
I am looking forward with great curiousness to the following weeks and I hope, it will not end too soon. On the other hand, I cannot wait to go home and use all the new knowledge in my home environment and start a new adventure in the nature of our Alps.
Great thanks to all the hands that work together that this school of life has become what it is now. If you ever get the chance to come here, don´t think about it – JUST DO IT!
This week my goal was to improve my driving which I had the opportunity to do on the way to our sleep-out spot earlier in the week. I took a risk by driving through an area with tough terrain, while still making sure everyone in the vehicle was comfortable and felt safe. Sleeping out in a big 5 area for the first time was amazing. Everything from collecting firewood to braaing and doing night watch, all made the experience so much fun!
I have learned so much about my fellow students the past few weeks and this week we started becoming more like a family than just friends. During our night drive, the stars reminded me of all the reasons why I am doing this qualification, building a new perspective of everything around me from the animals to the plants. My eyes have been opened and I have found a purpose within me to teach people more and more about nature and their surroundings.
I have learned to make quick decisions when under pressure during our blindfolded team-building exercises that we did this week. I had to direct 10 blindfolded people through the bush which made me realize that in the guiding industry it is not about me as an individual, it is about the people around us who come to visit these reserves who are wanting to learn more about wildlife. During these exercises, I also learned how to communicate with people the right way, be comfortable with them as well as respect their decisions and ideas.
I know now that this was the best decision of my life and I know that this blessing that I have been praying for so long now has been gifted to me at the perfect time of my life. The people I am surrounded by are kind and sharing. My teachers are the best and I am so eager to learn more.
I would need a whole month just to properly explain the experiences we’ve had during the past 4 weeks at Ulovane. Being here feels like home, I love it here!
“The environment, after all, is where we all meet, where we all have a mutual interest. It is one thing that all of us share. It is not only a mirror of ourselves, but a focusing lens on what we can become.”– Lady Bird Johnson