Always Expect the Unexpected

Professional Field Guide demonstrates safety first in a scary situation!

To Bumble About

“Travel has the ability to show us what we’re really made of, to expand our minds, hearts and spirits, and to transform us, among so much more. “

“Buffel was Here”

Scott Fraser aka Buffel is a young man with a lot of potential. We caught up with him at Makuleke during his last few days as a back-up Trails guide and discovered that despite Buffel’s size and strength, he is the epitome of a gentle giant. “One could argue that he’s more of an elephant than a buffalo”.

Nashville, Tennessee Native, Kiefer, born to effect positive change in the world

Sometimes in life you don’t exactly know where you want to go or what you want to do, but you know the general direction. Other times, you know where you want to end up, but do not know how you want to bumble around until then.

Living the life I choose, one choice at a time

“I have seen the seasons change and lived through that in a much more immersive way and for the first time, I’ve truly understood it.”

Trust

Some days in life we steer the propeller, and other days we ride the waves. There’s a delicate balance between making and allowing.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

Jeffrey as back-up Trails Guide at Makuleke

A British Naturalist in the African Bush serving as a volunteer EcoTraining Back-up

“The reality is that these instinctive influences would have been a part of daily, world-wide, human survival in pre-historic times and in fact remain vital to some indigenous populations today.”

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Matt o’Brien – a calling for adventure

After spending three years at University, Matt still yearned for something more. After doing some research he came across EcoTraining and the rest was history.

Leon Pauleikhof – its been a life changing experience

Through signing up for the Professional Field Guide course, it has been a year filled with new life experiences, lifelong friendships and unforgettable experiences for Leon. “Every time I’ve been to Africa I changed a little bit. This time with EcoTraining I changed even more.”

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Yuka Ota: from Tokyo to the African bush

A passion for wild animals led Yuka to many different countries to participate in various conservation projects until she signed up for a Professional Field Guide course with EcoTraining. The rest is history…

Lodge Life with Varun Taneja

From the moment Varun was introduced to African documentaries, he dreamed of travelling to Africa one day. Little did he know that his dream were about to come true.