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Christmas Gift Ideas for Safari Guides (and Safari Lovers) – Part 2

If you’re looking for inspiration for Christmas Gifts, we have gathered more gift ideas we think will add a bit of the African bush to any holiday.

Christmas Gift Ideas for Safari Guides (and Safari Lovers) – Part 1

The holidays are almost here, and you still don’t know what to get the safari lover in your life? Not to worry. We have gathered gift ideas we think will add a bit of the bush to any holiday celebration.

Sanctuary for the Sitatunga

As the chilly, early morning mist cleared, we sat in silence, patiently waiting and watching. The drone of insects heralded dawn’s awakening as we kept an eye on the paths and tunnels made through the reeds and rushes by the Sitatunga. A rustle in the reeds and a faint calling sneeze alerted us that they were on the move. Excited that our patience had eventually paid off, all binoculars were trained on the very shy antelope that are so difficult to observe.

EcoTracker Experience in Mashatu

Growing up, I would imagine going on safaris as a live-action version of The Lion King, with wild animals interacting and living their lives, paying no attention to me. The two trips I’ve taken in the bush as an adult weren’t actually that far off from that image: I saw a ridiculous number and variety of animals from the safety of a game vehicle. My most recent experience – an EcoTracker course in Mashatu – was somehow entirely different, and even more magical.

The First Rains by Emma Summers

The short bushveld winter has now officially ended in the South African bush. Days are getting warmer and the nights aren’t as cold as they once were. This is the time of year when we eagerly await the first storm. Will it come on time or will it be late? Only Mother Nature has the answer.

The Juggle of a Safari Guide

Have you ever wondered just how many balls your safari guide must juggle on a safari? Victoria shares her experience of what it’s like to be a new guide.

In search of the African Grey Unicorn

Unicorns, mythical beasts that are confined to fairy tales and children’s storybooks, right? Wrong. If you come to South Africa and look deep into the African bush you might just see one. No, I’m not talking about the fabled horses/goat type animal with flowing manes and a single horn, but rather something that is more prehistoric, a critically endangered herbivore, a mammal with stunning grey skin, and two beautiful but deadly horns.

Altering Course: An Interview with Bouke Lolkema

Society tells us our lives will be mapped out by our youth and our ambition: what schools we attend, who we marry, or what high-paying career we take on. But those are not the only factors that determine our paths. Sometimes tectonic forces are working deep below our feet, waiting to show us paths we had not prepared for when we least expect them—after our careers, our schooling, and our lives are pretty much sorted out. Or so we thought…

Technology and the Bush by Emma Summers - Ecotraining

Technology and the Bush by Emma Summers

Technology has become so ingrained into our everyday lives that most of us question how it is possible to live without it. It has helped us keep in contact with the people we love during the recent worldwide lockdowns. Whilst you are traveling it allows you to capture memories, share your experiences and reflect on your adventures when you get home.

Selati swimming cover - River Swim ~ An African Baptism

River Swim ~ An African Baptism

Swimming when the river flows is the Selati equivalent of making hay while the sun shines. EcoTraining blogger, Victoria, recalls a sunset swim, shared with students and tilapia fish.

Africa's Big Tuskers - Elephant - cover

Africa’s Big Tuskers

“Where they made furrows with their tusks the rivers ran” – Rudyard Kipling. Bear witness to the ancient giants of Africa. Titans are long-enduring but faced with a perilous future. Reverent creatures that we have the privilege of walking amongst a dwindling population.

A Leopard's Call - Mashatu Tere leopard

A Leopard’s Call

I like to end the day relaxing in front of my tent doing a few yoga stretches, enjoying the silence of the camp, the evening song of the birds, and marveling in the feeling of the last of the rays of the winter sun before it disappears for the day.
On hearing the alarm calls of the Nyala that hang around the camp, I stopped for a minute, listening, holding my breath, to see if I could hear what had disturbed them. And then…

Pridelands - Looking at termite mount - Tayla McCurdy

Celebrating World Ranger Day

The 31st of July is World Ranger Day, let’s explore what it means to be a ‘ranger’ in celebration of this day!

the art of walking

The Art of Walking – A Reflective debrief

I’ve always told my guest when walking out in the bush to read it like a book. Start on the horizon and scan from left to right and don’t forget to scan the trees close to you, there might be a Black Mamba looking back at you from its den. It’s definitely a question of who is looking at who out in nature.

migration map and calendar - Diane McLeish - Wildebeest Migration

Wildebeest Migration – Part 3

Most people think that the Wildebeest Migration only takes place between June and October, but it is a year-round occurrence. There are various but equally exciting events that occur at different times of the year. The river crossings usually coincide with safari high season so consequently, there is a perception that it is the only time of the year that the wildebeest migrate or can be seen.

Wildebeest Migration - Chaos at river edge - Diane McLeish

Wildebeest Migration – Part 2

Every year, around 1.5 million wildebeest are joined by thousands of Thompsons gazelle, zebra, eland, and other ungulates (hoofed animals) in what has been called the “greatest show on earth”, The Great Wildebeest Migration.

Great Migration - Ecotraining

Wildebeest Migration

The Great Wildebeest Migration in the plains of East Africa is one of the most spectacular displays of wildlife behavior and nowhere is there a terrestrial movement of animals as immense as the wildebeest migration. As one of UNESCO’s Wonders of the World, it is one of the most sought-after experiences for wildlife and nature enthusiasts.

The Black Mambas of Pridelands - Walking Safari - Ecotraining

The Black Mambas of Pridelands

Pridelands has two Black Mambas in camp at the moment and after a colorful interview, I can confirm that these ladies are way more lovely, and infinitely more hardcore than the snake.

Wilderness Photography Trip Report

Based in South Africa, Albie Venter has been involved in professional wildlife guiding, wildlife management and eco-tourism since 1996 and we are very privileged here at EcoTraining that Albie managed to visit our camps on a regular basis. Here is a wonderful trip report of his most recent visit on a Wilderness Photography Course in the magnificent Makuleke.

The Spotted Guard of Pridelands Camp

EcoTraining’s media intern Christoff Els and one of the EcoTraining instructors managed to get a little insight into what some of the hyenas around Pridelands get up to when the rest of the camp are sound asleep.

EcoTraining Elearning - Online Course

EcoTraining Online Course | All you need to know

Online learning is seemingly the next step in our Safari journey. But how do you choose which route to go?

A Reconnection with the Wilderness on Trail

“Moving around by day, looking, listening, smelling, touching and tasting. Reawakening your senses” – this is the essence of a Wilderness Trail

Eco-Isolation with EcoTraining

Eco-Isolation with EcoTraining

Jennifer Palmer is an impassioned wildlife biologist, a global educator, public speaker, and an intrepid lover of nature. She is one of the founders of Women for Wildlife, and through her work, she has become a trusted advisor to nonprofits, governments, foundations, film producers and business leaders around the world. We were very happy to host her at one of our EcoTraining Camps during the lock-down and help her ‘eco-isolate’ in a safe place that brought her so much joy.

A Natural Partnership between EcoTraining and WildEarth

A Natural Partnership between EcoTraining and WildEarth

EcoTraining is pleased to announce a brand-new partnership with wildlife broadcasting experts, WildEarth.

Wilderness Trails Skills - Tips and Tricks for the Wilderness - Trails Skills Course

Tips and Tricks for the Wilderness Trails Skills Course

Imagine, finding yourself out in the African bush, surrounded by the wilds of nature, from the whoops of hyena as the sun sets to the roars of a lion going into dawn, to the grunts of a hippo in the nearby waterhole.  With all your belongings carried on your back, you will be immersed in nature, become part of the natural system and be forever changed. The question is; do you have what it takes to do a Wilderness Trail?

If you think that you are the type of person who can be absorbed by the natural beauty of the wilderness, have your breath taken away by the beauty of birds in flight and feel utterly at peace in the silence of nature then you are definitely in the right place. On an EcoTraining Wilderness Trails Skills Course, your nights will be spent sleeping under a blanket of billions of stars and you will be able to explore some of the last untouched wilderness areas in Southern Africa on foot. You will have a chance to forget the hustle and bustle of your everyday life and be able to get back to basics and appreciate the solitude and silence whilst being surrounding by the breathtaking beauty of the Makuleke in the Northern Kruger National Park.

Before you start the journey on the Wilderness Trails Skills Course, we thought you might want a few quick tips that may help you along the way…

Wilderness Trails Skills Tips and Tricks

Tips:
  • Ziploc bags are great to have to allow you to store rubbish. Sealing your rubbish will ensure you don’t get ants in your back-pack.
  • Pack a pocket knife or Leatherman you never know when this will come in handy.
  • Make sure you have a good-quality torch, preferably a head torch (that won’t need charging)
  • Throw in a pair of gaiters or you are more than welcome to pick grass seeds and thorns from your socks every evening.
  • Take our EcoTraining Bush Survival Quiz – this will help you prepare yourself for any situation – from digging for water to locating water, or even learning how to make a rope etc…
Wilderness-Trails-skills-buffalo-encounter

Wilderness Trails Skills (c) Ian Glenn

What to Pack:
  • Sleeping bag (check temperature rating)
  • Sleeping bag inner (if needed for warmth & keeps sleeping bag clean)
  • Sleeping mat (foam roll mat) or inflatable hiking mattress (minimalist)
  • Cooking utensils (spoon to cook and eat with is sufficient)
  • Cooking equipment (stackable camping cooking set)
  • Hiking gas stove (plus spare gas canister in case you run out)
  • Personal first aid kit (small)
  • Torch/ headlamp (strong beam) – new batteries plus spare
  • Personal toiletries & sundry – Toilet paper, Toothbrush plus small Toothpaste, Sunscreen
  • Personal clothing (absolute minimal)
    • Neutral coloured: 1 set for walking, 1 set for sleeping
    • Spare pair of socks
    • Fleece and beanie for cold weather
    • Rain poncho (can also be used as a groundsheet to sleep on)
    • Hat (preferably wide-brimmed)
  • Good comfortable walking shoes/boots/trainers
  • Flip-flops for evenings and water travel
  • Backpack (40 – 60L max)
Water:
    • A 3-litre bladder in your back-pack allows you to drink whilst walking and is easier to fit in your back-pack.
    • If you take bottles only, ensure you have bottles equivalent to 3 litres per day.
    • You will need to bring water purification

Trail food – you will need to cater for these:

    • 5 breakfasts; 4 lunches; 5 dinners
    • trail snacks; energy drinks (i.e. game powders)
    • Suggestions:
    • Tea/coffee: Cappuccino sachets; condensed milk sachets (if you like sweetened drinks) or normal coffee, tea bags, sugar and powdered milk.
    • Breakfast: Instant Oats sachets/rusks
    • Lunch: Savoury crackers; Tuna sachets, Nola chicken & mayo sachets; 2 min noodles; Cup-a-soup sachets or Cheese for crackers (best in cooler winter months)
    • Dinner: Dehydrated dinners; 2 min noodles with the tuna or chicken sachets to mix in; 2 min noodles with ‘cup a soup’ to mix in; to any of these, you can add salami or biltong.
    • Snacks: Trail Mix (nuts, dried fruit etc); Muesli/energy bars

So, are you up for the challenge then why not reconnect with nature, rejuvenate your spirit and experience nature on a different level. Join the next Wilderness Trails skills course (04 – 09 April 2020) and spend your days walking in a uniquely untouched wilderness area on foot. Email [email protected] for more info.

An interview with Steve Baillie | EcoTraining Podcast

Want to know what you can expect from an EcoTraining course? Freelance content creator David Batzofin, chatted with Senior Instructor Steve Baillie to get his opinion about our 1-year Professional Field Guide Course.

David’s first question was “Talk me through what a participant can expect”. Listen to our latest podcast to learn more.

Students at Pridelands

Pridelands Camp (c) Steve Baillie

Want to start a career as a Field Guide? Or if you want to learn more about EcoTraining, follow us on social, either Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to be apart of our students’ and instructors’ amazing journeys through the African wilderness.

EcoTraining Quiz: Bush Survival

Learn More About EcoTraining: Home | Courses | AboutEnquire |


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Cheetah in Karongwe

Karongwe Camp | This is what students can expect

Karongwe Camp is situated in the southern parts of the 21,000-acre Karongwe Private Game Reserve. This Reserve not only boasts the Big Five, and other various species of mammals but also a massive diversity of habitat and a bird species list to rival any other reserve in the region. So, what can students expect from Karongwe Camp?

If you have not yet experienced being immersed in a wilderness area this is a brilliant way to start. EcoTraining’s Karongwe Camp is unfenced, students are accommodated in tents, hearty meals are prepared over the open fire and lectures are conducted under a large thatched open-aired classroom.

EcoTraining Karongwe Camp

EcoTraining Karongwe Camp communal area

Each of these buildings have multiple functionalities. The bottom left-hand thatch building is a drinks area and above it a library. There are ablution facilities under the office in the centre and there are sky beds above both the kitchen and the lecture room (building on the right). This is where you will start your journey, arriving here filled with excitement and exhilaration at the adventure that lies ahead.

Camp Manager Faith

Faith (Karongwe Camp coordinator)

Faith is the camp coordinator of Karongwe Camp. Listen to what she has to say about her role, an average day at Karongwe and a little bit about herself.

Karongwe Camp Accommodation

Karongwe Camp Tents

Students get to share accommodation while in training. The tents become home very quickly with small touches making the space more personal. The tents in Karongwe are spacious enough to accommodate two beds as well as shelves where the students can unpack items that are used regularly. They are also able to hang items inside as well as outside.

Karongwe Camp Kicthen

Karongwe Camp Kitchen

This is where the magic happens! Students are amazed at the variety and quality of the food that can be produced on a small stove and two gas hobs. Although the students do not have to make the food, the groups are broken in duty teams whose job it is to collect the food from the kitchen and place it on the tables (buffet style) in the dining area.

Mealtime at Karongwe

Mealtime at Karongwe Camp

These rotating ‘duty teams’ consist of two students who will present the meals as well as choose the order in which the remaining students collect food at mealtimes. This can be as simple as those –wearing-open-toed-shoes to using bird calls or frog sounds to decide who gets to the buffet first.

Lecture time at Karongwe Camp

Lecture time at Karongwe Camp

The instructors offer lectures on a variety of required topics. Each instructor has a unique style of transferring knowledge, but all of them incorporate the information in an educational and entertaining way. The courses are not all intense learning but are interspersed with fun and interesting activities.

Cheetah in Karongwe

Incredible cheetah sighting on foot in Karongwe

A requirement for several of the EcoTraining courses is a walking component. Before each activity, a briefing is held to prepare the new students for what might lie ahead. The two most important rules? “Stay behind the rifle at all times’ and “don’t EVER run”!

Game drive time at Karongwe Camp

Game drive time!

Although not all the students might have been on a walk before joining a course, many might have been on a game drive of some description. On the courses, it is not exclusively about big five sightings. Instructors will take time to describe trees, grasses, and tracks as they see fit. Can’t hear the bush sounds around you? Cup your hands behind your ears and you will be amazed at the amplification.

Camp fire in Karongwe

Around the ‘bush tv’

What a great way to end off a day, in true bush style. Swapping stories and experiences around the campfire before and after dinner. It is here that friendships are formed that will last longer than the flames will. The guiding industry is almost insular and even though the students will be ending up at separate lodges, there is every chance that they will meet up again somewhere down the line.

Are you ready for a new challenge? Consider joining one of the variety of courses that EcoTraining have to offer.

Contact [email protected] or call +27 (0)13 752 2532 to if you want to find out more.

Still not convinced? Watch this EcoTraining TV video as past student Aagje describes her experience on the Professional Field Guides course.

elephant encounter

World Ranger Day 2019

July 31st we celebrated World Ranger Day. And by extension, it should also be celebrated as World Field Guide Day.

If you are a Field Guide, Game Ranger or involved in the conservation and eco-tourism industry, then thank you for your time and dedication. We appreciate all those who put in the effort every day to conserve and teach those around us about Africa and the majestic wilderness that surrounds us. If you have ever thought about learning more or getting involved in the industry, whether as a full-time profession or just to learn and broaden your knowledge, then read on…

If your answer is yes, and joining the guiding industry is something that you are passionate about? Or perhaps you just want to up-skill your bushcraft. If either of these is an option, then an EcoQuest course might just be what you are looking for.

Instructor Mike Anderson point of tracks

Instructor Mike Anderson point of tracks (c) David Batzofin

If you find yourself on Safari or on a game drive with friends, and your thirst for knowledge and your need to know more about the wilderness around you is too much, then look no further than an EcoTraining EcoQuest Course.

The course is a ‘snapshot‘ of the Professional Field Guide Course that we offer.

Tree Squirrel

Tree Squirrel (c) David Batzofin

Time in the bush is not always about dangerous game and encounters with those that have teeth, claws and horns.

It is also about taking time to appreciate the ‘smaller’ inhabitants and how they contribute to a particular eco-system.

Game Rangers

(c) David Batzofin

Some of the course’s unique selling points are:

The EcoQuest courses can be tailored to suit individuals or groups.

Participants can sign up for either a 7 or 14-day course, depending on how much time they have at their disposal.

Do you have a speciality that you would like to highlight?

We can structure your course time to focus on that.

It is an immersive experience, in world-class wilderness regions.

Baboon skull

Baboon skull (c) David Batzofin

The course is designed to inform, educate and entertain. Finding skulls and identifying them is just one of the activities that can be experienced during an outing.

Flower

(c) David Batzofin

Each of the EcoTraining camps in South Africa,  Selati, Karongwe, Pridelands and Makuleke are situated in different biomes.

Thus making the vegetation very different.

bug

(c) David Batzofin

Did you know that there are about 100,000  insect species in South Africa?

Most of the reading material only mentions a fraction of these, however, you can find out more about some of those on the walks from the various EcoTraining camps where this course is presented.

Luckily, most of the species found in South Africa are harmless but it does help to know which might sting or bite.

Elephant tracks

Elephant tracks (c) David Batzofin

What does the EcoQuest course cover?

The course consists of drives, walks and lectures.

Each activity covers flora, fauna as well as tracking and spoor identification.

Termite mound

A termite mound (c) David Batzofin

Aside from the underground construction by this insect, termites also build these above-ground structures.

They can vary in height and are made out of clay that is stuck together with saliva. Should a portion of this mound be broken, they can repair it in record time.

Sunset in the African bush

Sunset in the African bush (c) David Batzofin

Walking back to camp as the sun sets.

A perfect ending to a day filled with exciting new experiences.

Camp fire

Campfire (c) David Batzofin

Share experiences around a roaring campfire.

There are stories to be told and it is here where friendships are made and lifetime bonds formed.

 

EcoTraining Managing Director, Anton Lategan sat down with David Batzofin and shared his hopes and dreams for EcoTraining.
Where we have come from and where we are going. Listen to the interview here.

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.”