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What a busy semester this has been. Important ‘obstacles’ were accomplished, such as the FGASA Level 1 exam, with an average score of 94%! Over the last two weeks, as I am sure you are all aware, the FGASA Level 1 assessment drives have been taking place. These are the practical components to the theoretical exams and are an important manner in which the assessor can gauge each student’s knowledge and their ability to relay that knowledge to guests, forming a well-rounded guided experience. After 5 months of learning, both in the classroom and in the bush, it is no surprise that all our students have successfully passed their assessments. They are now all qualified FGASA Level 1 Field Guides (don’t forget to register for DEAT ladies and gents). A big well done to all our students – we are very proud. As the assessor, I would also like to say thank you to all our students who put in an extraordinary amount of effort in terms of drinks breaks and presentation. You have set the bar very high for our future students!

Of course, with numerous drives going out every day, and the game seeming to be on our side in terms of sightings over the last few weeks, the ‘guided experience’ has been far more ‘realistic’ than usual. This week, we started off with Matthias’s drive and had seen Lions, Elephant and two cheetah before 7am! Lions were seen on almost every drive since then and the elephant herd as well as lone bulls have also been seen frequently, sometimes with 3 different sightings in one drive! (Maika’s assessment drive). On two occasions we had lions and elephant in the same sighting! Of course, the aim of an assessment drive, is not to rush off for high profile sightings, but to relay knowledge on a broad range of topics such as trees, reptiles, mammals etc – but all these animals seem to be finding us this week – allowing for our students to cover the smaller and bigger aspects of the bush, including animal behaviour and how to safely react in a sighting, when a few ellies have given us a rev or two.

Another exciting aspect of this week, was the announcement of the first Student Photographic Competition winner – Christoph Rösler . Well done Christoph (winning photo seen below). After an initial ‘liking’ period, the Top 10 were chosen and the winning pic then chosen by staff and public input. We felt Christoph’s photo obviously had all the technical attributes we were looking for, but more importantly, encapsulated what we are all about here at Bushwise – finding beauty in the smaller things and creating passion for these things. Although we have plenty of high profile game sightings on our game drives, as you can clearly see if you follow our facebook page, we always strive to focus on smaller aspects of the environment, as at the end of the day, this is what makes a GREAT guide! Christoph wins one night’s stay for two (including meals and game drives) at the exclusive, award-winning lodge – Garonga Safari Camp (www.garonga.com), valued at R6400!

On other news, for those of you who went to Indaba (Africa’s largest travel trade show) in Durban last weekend, we hope you met up with Bushwise representative, Rachel Greenwood and had a chat! Sounds like Indaba was, yet another, big hit this year and it seems to be growing in size every year!

As we go into a well needed week off, I would like to take this opportunity to remind our students to stay focussed for just a little while longer, with the Trails Guide exam coming up in the first week of the next (last) semester. Unbelievable how time has flown by on this course, and to think, in under 3 weeks, some students will be starting their placement period!

Don’t forget to join our Facebook (www.facebook.com/bushwise) and Twitter pages (https://twitter.com/GVIBushwise) for daily updates and info on our courses!

For those of you who are in the hospitality industry and would like to do an internship at a luxury lodge in Southern Africa, have a look at Bushwise Hospitality Internships – an exciting new facet of Bushwise training (https://www.bushwise.co.za/hospitality-internships).

Until next time,
Charles and The Bushwise Team.