As the sun sets on our time at Bushwise, now seems like a good time to reflect on what I can only describe as the best 6 months I have ever had. We started this course as a group of wide eyed novices united by our passion for the bush… and now we are qualified guides, still united by our love of the bush; but more than that, united by friendships that I hope will last long into our guiding careers.
Thinking back to the first semester and the seemingly insurmountable mountain of books, lectures and practical skills we had to learn covering everything from grasshoppers to galaxies and everything in between seems like a long time ago. However, with the unwavering support of Gerhard, Vaughan and Trevor – the very best trainers, who I now hope to be able to call friends, we all made it and are equipped with the skills and knowledge required to make it in the big wide world of guiding.
With every semester came new challenges; whether that was the art of tracking (spending hours channeling our inner Sherlock Holmes deciphering precisely which animal passed by and what they were doing as they went about their day) or Advanced Rifle Handling: heading off a cardboard lion charging at 22.2m/s. What I can say for certain is that all of these challenges would have been a whole lot tougher if it hadn’t been for the wonderful bunch of clowns that are my fellow students. There has never once been a dull moment at Bushwise, with us finding hours of entertainment playing French cricket in the car park, walking backwards or for that matter forwards using binoculars, making ever more elaborate tooth brushes with the Magic Guarri, fortune telling in the sand, or a whole host of dung-flinging-esque competitions. You adapt to a more basic lifestyle out here, but by no means does that mean things get boring – you can rely on a Bushwise student to find the fun around just about every corner.
Now we look forward to the next stage: our placements. Doing what we set out to do, a lifelong dream for many will finally be realised. While we are all dispersing across the region, I hope that we can channel our inner impala and use our metaphorical metatarsal glands to find our way back to each other again, probably in Sleepers for a jolly good pizza. As some head off directly to the next adventure, an intrepid few are embarking on Lowveld Trails: 12 days returning to nature in the wild Timbavati, spending our days walking with the wildlife and our nights beneath the stars.
I know everything about the Bushwise experience has changed us all for the better and so, without further ado, I wish to thank you all and wish you good luck for every wonderful challenge we are faced with here in the Lowveld and for life beyond. Let’s do this!
Blog by Claire Hopkins