After a short break, all of us were greeted by many waterbodies that formed thanks to the long awaited rains. Knowing what we would now expect in terms of sights and sounds, put a spring in our last few steps into the wild. With the area now much greener, we are in no doubt we will soon see grazers feeding on the lush grass. Frogs and toads are already declaring their delight for these pools, while we are delighted by their symphony of sound.
This week the focus on campus will be on Trails Guide training.
People all over the world come to South Africa’s wildlife areas to fulfil a dream of experiencing the county’s iconic creatures of the natural environment but while it is the norm to do this by means of guided tour in an open game viewer, some tourists are fortunate enough to view all of these natural wonders on foot. This is what we call ‘trails’. A well- trained trails guide has the ability and privilege of being able to open a whole new world to the trails group. With a combination of luck, local knowledge and skill the trails guide can present the opportunity to view potentially dangerous animals on foot. These encounters not only result in adrenaline- filled adventures for the group but also bring them closer to nature which very often creates a stronger conservation attitude within individuals. This may lead to a positive contribution to conservation in some way on return to their home country.
Now our students have the opportunity to be exposed to the same wonders and adventures under the mentorship of our expert trainers. Already after only just a few excursions on foot, they have had some epic encounters. During one morning hike we found a pride of lions sleeping only about 30 meters from us – 2 adult lionesses and 4 sub -adults. We had the honour of observing the full pride for about 5 minutes until one young male spotted us and trotted off. When the other dashed away, the commotion had one lioness on high alert. She looked up and scanned the area, but my skill ensured wind direction, vegetation cover and group control masked our presence and outlines. Eventually she noticed the group and started growling with increased intent and after about twenty seconds, she gave a loud growl, jumped up and trotted away from us.
The group were lead out of the immediate area to let the pride settle down again. It goes without saying that everybody was filled with excitement and will remember this encounter for the rest of their lives. Other encounters with general game and elephants. Hippos gave the students the amazing opportunity to see how potentially dangerous animals can be viewed in a safe way while hiking through the South African bush.
We believe that these hikes will create a sense of respect in our students which they can one day pass on their own guests.
While many people spend a lifetime saving in a bid to experience the South African bush, our students are privileged to soon get paid to do this ‘job’ Their time here at Bushwise is now coming to an end, but their amazing life in the bush is only just beginning….
Good luck to them all!
Gerhard & The Bushwise Team