Welcome, welcome!

Welcome, welcome!

Welcome to a new year! We trust that you all had a wonderful festive season and that 2015 will be your best year yet.

A warm welcome to the Mahlahla and Grietjie Campus students: Dylan, Peter, Alex, Jacques, Chad, Matthew, Stefan, Sarah, Kate, Adam, Stephan, Jonathan, Daniel, Elliot, Bradley, Shaun, Tracey, Andrea, Thomas, Ally, Carole, Sunil, Hattie, Henry, Byron, Hannah, Maya, Ebenezer and Philip – we are pleased to have you all join us on what is sure to be, an amazing experience for you all!

Some students were treated with a couple of sightings of Elephant, Rhino and Buffalo on their way to campus – making the long journey to each campus slightly more exciting!

As per usual, with a busy schedule planned for the course, we jumped straight into course activities. The usual H&S, campus, student & staff familiarization process took place over the first two days, celebrated with a hearty South African Braai! Shortly afterwards, our students were clad in Khaki after a trip into town and ready for their first game drive.

The first game drive delivered great sightings across the board – with a variety of different species seen by both campuses, including plenty of general game, buffalo, elephant, hippo, flap-necked chameleons, Bushbabies and even a small African Rock Python.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a true start to the course if lectures hadn’t taken place! Intro to guiding, vehicles, ethics and communication in guiding environment (amongst other topics), were discussed in great detail; after all – these are fundamental to a successful guide’s career.

In order to be a field guide and live a life in the African bush; there are certain requirements which are necessary to have, or quickly acquire – one of these is a valid and up to date first aid certificate which is recognized by the Department of Labour. A Level 2 First Aid course (with wilderness first aid training included) was on the schedule for this week for both campuses, and we are pleased to announce that our students have achieved their first of many qualifications in their quest to become professional field guides.

The Game drives which have followed have been focused on treating our students to some amazing sightings so as to properly explain guiding procedures, ethics and guest interaction. The trainers really pulled out all the stops and our students have been spoilt for choice with sightings – setting the bar high for our students who take over the ‘driving reigns’ next week.

Some of the stand out sightings included two male cheetahs on an impala kill, a brown hyena, elephant, lion, honey badger, loads of general game, more flap-necked chameleons and an amazing selection of birds (including a Grey-Headed Kingfisher). Our Grietjie Campus students were even treated to their first walk, which saw them encountering elephant and a lone Dagga boy (old buffalo bull).

In between all of this – we also included some practical practice in safely changing land rover tires with a high-lift jack, as well as how to perform the necessary vehicle checks before embarking on a game drive. A practical driving assessment was also conducted to ensure that everyone is capable of safely maneuvering a large game viewer as this is something new to most our students.

This morning, all our students wrote their first set of tests and have a well-deserved day off tomorrow. Perhaps now, after an explanation all the activities which have been completed since the 7th Jan – families and friends may be a little more forgiving for the lack of communication from our new Professional Field Guide students :).

Until next time,

The Bushwise team

Photo Credit: Jacques Briam, Thomas Goldner and Tracey Bruton.