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Week 2: When the ice starts to break

BY: Mitchell Robinson, student 2021

Week 2 got off to an amazing start. Our ‘honeymoon’ game drive was very enjoyable. Our trainers took us out on a game drive in Makalali Private Game Reserve. They treated us as guests and did everything for us. Even though no big cats were seen, that didn’t dampen our spirits. The one vehicle was very lucky and got to see a black rhino and hippopotamus at a dam. The birdlife was phenomenal. Most of the birds people would usually skip are super interesting. Our guides’ in-depth knowledge about birdlife kept us asking more and more questions. The general game was very good. We saw mass amounts of impalas with young babies along with many zebra and wildebeest. The enthusiasm all around was phenomenal from both the students and the guides. Jokes and laughter were constantly heard on the vehicles. 

On Thursday the 14th of January we had our first day of learning about front-of-house. Front-of-house contains many aspects that we as the students didn’t realize. I’m sure that even some things the trainers didn’t know of. The insight into what managing a lodge and being a field guide entails was discussed in great detail. Haley and Grant used many of their own experiences to help us understand. All in all, we realized that front-of-house involves a lot of aspects and long hours.

On the 16th of January all of us decided to take a break and swim. We spent half of the day by the pool chatting away and playing games like ‘marco polo’. It was a day filled with fun and games and a bit of studying in between.

On the 18th of January, we wrote our very first tests which focused on ‘the introduction to guiding, geology and radio procedures. Everyone put in long hours of studying due to all the nerves around camp. The tests made us think a bit differently as a lot of the questions involved scenarios. After the tests the spirits were high and the smiles could be seen for miles. That night we decided to have a campfire and games night. All of us gathered together playing card games while sitting around the fire. It was an awesome team-building night for all. We all chatted for hours and started to get comfortable around each other. Everyone was sharing their stories making it a very interesting night. Jokes were made and songs were sung. It was an amazing day.

Tuesday the 19th of January was filled with lectures on our next three FGASA modules which included weather and climate, astronomy and ecology. While sitting in a class all day is not ideal, everyone seemed to enjoy it. I suppose it is pure love for what we are doing and hoping to do. It was a very hot day and the pool just looked so inviting. 

Wednesday the 20th of January, my final day as camp manager was interesting and dirty. We learnt about the basic mechanics of the game drive vehicles. This involved us checking coolant level and oil level. Then the interesting part came. We had to change a tire. All of us got a chance but we had to make a bit of a competition. While we raced to see who can change a tire the quickest, Vaughan, our head trainer, was cracking jokes while attending to his poor broken high lift jack. 

In conclusion, the second week was thoroughly enjoyable and full of lots of laughter. So far it has been an amazing experience. 

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