After finding out that we had all successfully passed our FGASA Level 1 theory exam, tension levels were high again this week as we prepared for our assessment drives. The aim of the “game”: take our guests on an informative, entertaining and enjoyable game drive.Advising them of safety aspects before departing and reminding them to hold onto their camera’s, hats and other personal items as they could easily fly off the open vehicle.
Routes were planned out, vehicles argued over, final facts crammed and tasty snacks prepared. Students acting as guests were joined by volunteers from our two neighbouring projects, Siyafunda and GVI. It was wonderful to be able to share our passion for the bush with others and gave us an insight into what “real” guiding will be like.
It is incredible to think about the amount we have all learned. Just a few shorts months ago, we were struggling to identify even the most common trees and birds. Now we are all able to conduct a three-hour game drive, educating our guests on the animal uses, medicinal properties and traditional beliefs of a large variety of trees and plants, identifying birds by their calls alone, recognising many different kinds of scat and spoor, whilst at the same time driving temperamental Landrovers, answering our guests’ questions and hosting them at our chosen phuza (drinks) location.
Whilst the assessment drives were going on, the remaining students had the opportunity to go out on optional drives and walks with our trainers. These were a very welcome chance for all to relax and just enjoy the bush. They also provided some amazing sightings, including wild dogs, lions, elephants and cheetah.
The end of the course is approaching fast and I for one cannot believe how quickly the time has gone. It feels like just yesterday that we all arrived in this beautiful place, eager to learn as much as possible. And here we are now, one step closer to becoming fully-qualified FGASA Level 1 field guides!
Blog & pictures by Katie Munro, other picture contributions by Jess Talbot