Matthew Bouwkamp, the lovable Backwoods, Bayou Boy from Miami, Florida, has been fascinated by and has felt protective over wildlife ever since he was a kid. “Ever since I was a little kid, I was always the kid bringing the snakes home, “Mom can I keep it?!” Matt finished his studies in Wildlife Rehabilitation. In September 2017, Matt joined EcoTraining’s yearlong Professional Field Guide course along with his friend, James, who suggested the course. Now traversing through the koppies of Mashatu in Botswana, Matt is gaining practical hours of experience and encounters towards acquiring his lead trails qualification by working as a back-up field guide for EcoTraining. “It’s definitely given my life a new inspiration to push on.” says Matt. Like many people, Matt found himself caught up in a well-paying job and felt himself getting further and further away from his life’s passion: conservation. Coming to Africa was a life’s dream for Matt. What we naturally do as children often sets the tone for what we are destined to do as adults. Some know right away and spend their teenage years honing the skills they need for a career in their passion. Some never realise their purpose and suffer a lifetime of mediocracy and discontentment. Worst of all, there are many human beings of this world know what they’re destined to do but create too many excuses around why they can’t. It’s the truly brave ones who find themselves far along a path, only to admit and accept that they’ve pushed aside their passion and are living an inauthentic life. Matt is one of the brave ones; he left his stable career in order to return to his roots, back to his passion. Matt is now free and easy; he is living out his passion. After his year at EcoTraining, he hopes to go into conservation and anti-poaching. Just like when he was a kid, he wants to spend his life saving and protecting animals. Cheers to passion. Cheers to an authentic life. And cheers to the brave ones.

“The Brave Ones” – Matthew Bouwkamp

Matt finished his studies in Wildlife Rehabilitation, but never had the opportunity to do what he loves, until now. It took him six years, working in construction, to realise what he has been missing. Here he is now, living his dream in wild Africa as a Professional Field Guide.

If you can remember, towards the end of last year EcoTraining ran an exciting and educational radio programme on Pretoria FM. EcoTraining’s very own instructors Jan Hendrik, Quentin Swanevelder and Jasper Visser were guest speakers on the show called ‘Veldfeite met EcoTraining’ with the show’s host, Pienaar Lochner exploring topics about ecology, bush myths, dangerous game approach and much more. We also ran a bush quiz competition in conjunction with the show and our reigning winner of the 7-day EcoQuest Course turned out to be 13-year-old Willie junior Conradie. His knowledge and participation on the show proved without a doubt that he was a worthy winner. Winner Willie Conradie Jnr has lived with his grandmother and grandfather Mr. Willie Conradie Snr since birth. He attends high school at Hoërskool Hans Strijdom in Mookgopong (Naboomspruit) and stays in the school hostel. Since Willie Jnr was too young to visit the bush unaccompanied, we invited his grandfather to join him. Overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement to bond with his grandson on an adventure in the bush, he accepted. EcoTraining sent Willie Jnr and Snr on a road trip to Makuleke camp with… can you guess?... Our media man, Willie van Eeden! I mean, what are the chances?! The EcoQuest took place from 25th to 31st March and we hear that Willie Jnr stole the hearts and respect of EcoTraining staff. His politeness towards others and eager admiration for the bush encompasses all that we try to achieve here at EcoTraining.

What’s better than hanging out with Grandpa in the bush?

This story is a special tribute to grandfathers on Father’s Day. This is a heart-warming story of a grandfather, his grandson and an adventure in the African wilderness!

A wilderness Photographer who became a professional Field Guide

People come to EcoTraining for a variety of reasons. Some want to become safari guides. Some want a gap year of adventure. Some just want to learn. Then you get some who want to be better photographers.

City girl goes ‘wild’

A self-proclaimed ‘high maintenance’ girl from Johannesburg, currently on an FGASA Field Guide course at Selati, enrolled on this course to learn as much about wildlife as she can. She has one mission in life: “pursue your passion, and go do great things in life.”

Letting Nature heal itself with our support.

Read about the incredible biodiversity of the Selati Game Reserve and be astonished by how fragile yet strong natures ecosystems can be.

She is a force of Nature, let her soar.

The safari and guiding industry has always been traditionally male-dominated. This was due to the fact that much of the work of a field guide required physical strength, bravery and resilience. With the rise of the 21st century and the liberation of women’s rights, much of these occupations in fact did not require physical strength as it did expertise and skill. So, many courageous women started entering into male-dominant professions such as the guiding, creating a new movement of guiding professionals as we know today. EcoTraining is proud to be a part of this development in the guiding industry.

Course report: Wilderness Photography Course

To run a Wilderness Photography course, you have to find a location that offers a diverse selection of shooting opportunities. The Makuleke concession in the Norther Kruger Park is one of those special locations and it just proved perfect for the first photography course for 2018.

Lanner Gorge_Makuleke_Small

Happy Mother’s Day, I’m sure it’s a full-time job

Every year we get the opportunity to celebrate that special figure in our lives. The figure who gave us life, who will protect us no matter what, and who loves us unconditionally. This year, we took a closer look at a different Mother…Mother Earth and you will be surprised at the similarities between our wonderful mothers and the planet we live on.

World Migratory Bird Day

The mysteries and complexities of bird migration have fascinated many human civilizations and cultures for centuries, if not millennia. World Migratory Bird Day is a global awareness-raising campaign highlighting the need to protect migratory birds and their habitats.

The breeding of a Royal antelope

A famous story writer once said, “He who travels through the bush and sees two Sables mating under a Marula tree is truly blessed person”.

There was a corner for Crooks in the Kruger Park

In the remote north eastern corner of the Kruger National Park there is magical place with an interesting story to be told. It’s a small piece of land where the winding Limpopo and the meandering Luvhuvhu Rivers meet. These two rivers form the natural boarders of three countries – South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Celebrating Planet Earth

We celebrated World Earth Day in April and we thought it would be a good idea to reiterate the importance of protecting our one and only, Planet Earth. We must take time and reflect on what World Earth Day really means to us.

The Knyphausen Foundation and EcoTraining Train the Trainer Programme in Botswana

An initiative aimed at educators from rural communities who become trainers; integrating environmental education as part of their syllabus offered to local community primary schools.

Freedom Day

Freedom Day in South Africa is a significant National public holiday which marks the human right to freedom and commemorates the country’s first ever democratic elections held in 1994.

Be Informed and understanding why Plastic is bad for the Environment

“There are 500 times more pieces of microplastic in the sea than there are stars in our galaxy and by 2050 it is estimated there will be more plastic than fish” ~ Ian Johnston: Environment Correspondent in an article for the Independent.

Hyenas are not the ‘Underdogs’ of Wild

If you look closely at them you will see their scars – proof of battles won and lost, proof that they are born survivors.

Bioturbation and how this contributes to the well-being of the planet

If bioturbation did not occur, plant growth would be severely reduced, thus negatively impacting the overall productivity of the planet. We owe a great deal to all these industrious animals for the preservation of our planet.

elephant encounter on foot

How do I become a Back-up Trails Guide for EcoTraining?

To be selected to become a back-up trails guide you need to have excelled extremely well in the trails guide module and FGASA Field Guide level 1 component in the first half of the Professional Field Guide course.

The Kenya Safari Guide programme with EcoTraining in the land of the greatest global wildlife migration

It happens once a year, why not make it an educational lifetime experience?

Christmas comes early at EcoTraining

EcoTraining wants to spread the joy and say thank you to all our loyal supporters before Christmas.

Sometimes you lose, sometimes you learn, sometimes life takes you on a new path

Sometimes, the hard moments in life forces you to rise above all odds and make the best of your situation. This is exactly what Jerry Sibiya did when circumstances left him homeless for a night.

Where will YOUR off the beaten path take you?

You don’t need to be born in Africa to have Africa in your blood. The longing to be connected with the African wilderness is a way of life for a lot of people from all around the world and an unexplained marvel.

Good Work Foundation training

Konica Minolta sponsors field guide students from the Good Work Foundation to train at EcoTraining

In August 2017, EcoTraining welcomed a group of eleven young individuals from the Good Work Foundation (GWF) bizhub Conservation Academy in Mpumalanga. Konica Minolta South Africa (KMSA) in partnership with GWF sponsored these previously disadvantaged candidates to pursue their dream of becoming accredited Field Guides.

The honeymoon that will live on in our spirits forever

Marriage and nature have something in common, if you truly love it, you will always find beauty in it. This is what newlyweds, Christian and Mimi did. After exchanging their vows, they decided to begin their honeymoon immersed in nature where they would explore a deeper connection with the African wilderness.

Perseverance knows no obstacles, my journey of becoming a Lead Trails Guide

“Wildlife, Nature conservation, and guiding were a few key words that I sought out and followed over the past few years. It led me, to be who I am now. A Level 1 Nature Guide and a Lead Trails Guide. It all started as a dream that needed to be realised” –
Haritha Pilapitiya

Guiding Dreams

“I had a dream, then I woke up and lived it.” The journey of Daniel Welmers’ first steps of becoming a Safari Field Guide.

A tree gave me a reality check

“For a tree that doesn’t speak, it gave me a lot to think about. This sounds very deep, but then again, roots are.” – Natashia Brittion