Through the eyes of a Trails Guide student

Isabella Barreca recently completed her Trails Guide course at Mashatu as part of her one year Professional Field Guide qualification. She describes her morning from the first waking call to experiencing the wonders of Mother Nature on foot.



The alarm goes off at the ungodly hour of 4:30 am and diligently pulls me out of my slumber. I drift in and out for another 15 minutes, interrupted by the cooing of the Red Eye Dove and the screeching of the Natal Spurfowl right outside my tent, surrounded by the lush green that creates a wall along the windy dirt pathway.

It’s time to roll out of my ‘jim jams’ and into my trekking gear as I prepare for a Trails walk. The air is welcome and cool, and I close my eyes briefly as I commit the feeling to memory before it turns into a searing, burning, barely moving breath in an hour or so.

Time to pop a malaria pill and wash it down with a Rooibos tea and a rusk, as I will need my energy for the 4 hour walk ahead of me. As people begin to mill around the dining table in camp (which is the only one I have ever seen with a killer open view of the Motloutse River), conversation and coffee stir our minds out of its weariness, and soon, everyone is making their way to the entrance of camp.


As we head out, the mood blue and mauve sky begins to blaze into a fiery orange red, and I am reminded how spectacular Mother Nature is in all Her glory. As we walk, any troubled thoughts and visions dancing around in my head dissipate, and are replaced by a sense of peace and tranquility as a troop of baboons spring around in the grass.

Impala stand upright and graceful in the morning light, ears pricked and tails swishing, as they watch us watching them. Elephants make tracks in the long grass as they sweep slowly across the green carpet that is the savannah, and the light reflects the sandy brown dust on their backs.

The birds are already flitting and chirping in chorus, and white butterflies float around as we snake our way in a line towards the horizon.

My alarm woke me from my dream-scape. But it was Mother Nature who awoke my spirit this morning as only She can.”