“Being a field guide without knowing how to drive your vehicle, is like walking a trail as first rifle and not even knowing how to use that rifle” – Mark Frazer
One of the most vital skills a field guide can have is understanding their vehicle. Not only does this ensure an enjoyable experience for guests, by allowing the guide to focus on other parts of the drive such as looking for animals and relaying interesting information, but it ensures that the guide will provide a safe drive to the guests. Safety is one of the most important aspects of a game drive, and as we are driving in the bush, it can become a little tricky in certain terrains.
For this reason, Bushwise gave us with a week of 4X4 training through the training company Nostophobic Adventures. Mark started us off with a thorough lecture on all things vehicle-related on Monday morning, and showed us some interesting videos of what we could expect from the course. The next day was a day full of learning some of the most important actions we need to ace in our vehicles, like a downhill and uphill stall, as well as understanding the mechanisms in the car that were covered in theory, helping us to physically see how different gear settings of the vehicle work in different situations, and just when to use them. He patiently explained to each of us in turn what to do and helped us to understand where we may have gone wrong.
The next day was recovery day. Well, not for us, but rather how to recover vehicles from sticky situations – literally. Mark and the other trainers got one of the vehicles stuck on purpose and, after explaining the different parts of the recovery kit, gave us a briefing of what to do and sent us off. After a few mistakes, a lot of sweating and a little bit of digging, we were ready for a few attempts at pulling the Landy out of the wet sand with the extremely useful snatch method and the great power of the Cruiser.
Finally, after a written test, some admin, and finally a practical assessment, we’re all ready for any tricks nature may try throw our way. Learning these skills through such a great company could not have been easier and will definitely help us all in our futures in the guiding industry.
Thank you to Mark, Andre and the trainers who helped us in this course!
Blog by Gabriel Dowling