Thursday, June 13, 2019

On a walk with the Trails Guide course students. EcoTraining Selati Camp

Impala rams testing each other to claim mating rights. 
Each year the dominant males face
 challenges from the younger males.
In this manner, nature ensures that only the strongest individuals get to mate.
As it turned out they were to be the ONLY game that we saw on this walk 
Once again I found myself joining some of the EcoTraining students
on their 28-day FGASA-accredited Trails Guide course

Off into the fading afternoon sunset, we went.
Single file and in silence.
The students were hoping that there would be some
 dangerous animal encounters to put into their workbooks.
The 5 Golden Rules of a Trails walk are:
1]Stay in single file
2] Stay behind the rifle at all times
3] Listen and obey the commands of the guide.
4] Do not run at any time!
5] No talking while walking and keep the noise to a minimum.

Looking ahead, EcoTraining back up guide Aagia was making certain that
the noises we were hearing were heading away from us.

This is what we were hoping to find...
A breeding heard of elephant making their way down the road.
But, it was not to be!
(This sighting was from a vehicle and not on foot)

Aside from a multitude of footprints,
there were signs like this everywhere.
This is how an elephant gets rid of the excess mud.
It rubs it off either on branches
or on tree trunks that line the regularly utilized game paths. 

Not a drop of water in the river bed...

But the group decided to stop here for a break.
In the vain hope that the elephants would come looking for water.

Although there might not have been any of the larger mammals around,
the area was alive with birdlife.
Never one to miss an opportunity to add to her life-list,
one of the EcoTraining students scans the surrounding vegetation in search
of those elusive species that are often heard but not seen.

My well-utilized boots having a well-earned rest.
Together we have done hundreds of kilometres. 
And although unsuccessful on this walk
we have been on trails where there have been successful sightings.

What better way to end the day?
Heading back to Selati camp as the sun sets.
Just another day in paradise.

This is the EcoTraining mission statement... 
1] Vision: To be the Global leader in environmental education
 by reconnecting people with nature...
For me, the most important part of
  that statement is the word *reconnecting
2] Mission: To provide inspirational & immersive learning experiences
 for professional safari guides and guardians of nature
and finally...
3] Values: Inspire. Professionalism. Caring and Accountability.
Are you ready to make a commitment to yourself and your future?
If so, then visit their website for more information:

A big thank you to each of these brands
 for coming on board.

This has been my constant travel companion 
for the past several years.
It might look worn,
but that represents the kilometres/miles
we have shared together.
From Kilimanjaro to the beaches of India.
To coach trips across Europe and Vietnam
and to a variety of game lodges and road trip destinations
 in South and Southern Africa.
Check out their Facebook page:

This torch has been turning heads!
The Olight SRS2UT Intimidator.
Marketed locally by:

My camera brand of choice for more than 4 decades!

When it is time to print out my special images,
this is the company that I rely on to do that.

Bush gear to make me blend in...
in comfort and style.

Breaking in my new pair of Yellow Veldskoen Shoes.
They are probably the most comfortable pair of shoes
that I have ever owned.
Now to try out the rest of the colours in the range.

When back home, I rely on this ISP
to provide me with high-speed fibre connectivity to
 enable me to get my postings published in record time.

This Powerbank is my constant companion
 while I am travelling.
It can do up to 4 full re-charges of my phone before
needing to be charged.
Supplied by...

ALWAYS choose to be Batman.
My constant travelling companion.
To find out more about the collectable Funko range of figurines,

I could not do without this awesome laptop bag from Solo.
Padded for protection and with enough pockets to keep
almost everything INCLUDING the kitchen sink in,
this is definitely a stylish addition to any business presentation.
Be it in the boardroom or the bush.
This bag can also be worn as a backpack. 
There are straps in a hidden compartment that can be deployed
when you need both hands for other purposes.
To find out more about the stylish Solo range,

This locally made product was indispensable when using a long lens.
The ball and socket might look simple...and it is, 
which is why it should be in the gear bag of every serious photographer.
This locally made, deceptively simple device is ideal 
for tracking birds in flight or animals in motion.
The base can be used on a beanbag or a tripod,
with the ball being fitted to the camera.
The simplicity of the device allows moving from supported
to handheld in a fluid motion.
There is also a version that can be used on a car window.
To see more about the product, 
visit their Facebook page:
Or order directly from:

To see who else were winners in 2018, visit:

All images are the copyright property of
and may not be used without permission

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

FGASA Safari Guide of the year. The judging panel.

I will be part of the media contingent
at this event to be held at the NJ More Field Guide College
 in Marataba from the 23rd to the 29th June 2019.

Introducing the judges for
 Safari Guide of the Year 2019.
In no particular order,
they are...


 Q: James, how long have you been in the Industry? 
25 years
Q: What is your greatest achievement?
 In guiding, SCOUT Qualification.
Q: When you are judging the selected candidates, what do you look for most? 
I look at a person’s potential rather than how little or how much he/she actually knows.
Q: What does Safari Guide of the Year represent to you as a judge? 
It is a platform where like-minded people can promote the profession of guiding.


Q: How long have you been in the Industry?
 Truth be told, I’ve never been formally employed in this industry. 
However, I have spent most of my life (at least 5 decades) living, 
learning and exploring the natural system… globally.
Q: What is your greatest achievement?
Perhaps it’s my induction into the HALL OF FAME 

(Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa).
Q: What do you look for when judging the selected candidates?
In my opinion: more important than “identification” is instead, a diverse, 

general knowledge as a broad-based naturalist, 
an enquiring/questioning demeanour and deductive/interpretive/philosophical skills.
 Is the candidate a perfect interface between science, nature and the public?
 Above all, the candidate’s ability to serve as an ambassador for South Africa
 and its magnificent natural heritage.
Q: What does Safari Guide of the Year represent to you?
Safari Guide of the Year is a brilliant, prestigious initiative dedicated to the awareness, 

preservation and maintenance of the standards, 
conduct and excellence that define world-class safari guiding.


Q: How long have you been in the Industry? 
For 22 years
Q: What is your greatest achievement? 
Becoming a partner in Africa Direct.
Q: What do you look for when judging the selected candidates? 
For someone that has a true understanding that the industry is about selflessness, 
genuine warmth towards all they interact with (staff or guests) 
and a great understanding of his or her environment through skills and dedication.
Q: What does Safari Guide of the Year represent to you? 
I started Safari Guide of the Year because I wanted to give our ambassadors 
and custodians of our wildlife the recognition they deserve.

Juan Pinto

Q: How long have you been in the Industry? 
.This is my 26th year in the industry.
Q: What is your greatest achievement? 
Achieving my Master Tracker status.
Q: What do you look for when judging the selected candidates? 
I look for a Guide that reads their guest and opens up nature to them
 in a way that is a memorable experience. 
Q: And what does Safari Guide of the Year represent to you? 
The Safari Guide of the Year is a chance to let like-minded Field Guides
 learn from each other and reflect on the skills and professionalism Field Guiding.


Q: Brian, how long have you been in the Industry? 
25 years 
Q: What is your greatest achievement? 
Being able to assist and encourage less fortunate guides who have now achieved great FGASA Qualifications and have succeeded in their guiding careers. 
Q: What do you look for when judging the selected candidates? 
The candidate must be passionate, a people’s person and have the right attitude.
Q: What does Safari Guide of the Year represent to you? 
It is a platform that enables Safari Guides to showcase their skills and 
potentially represent fellow guides in the industry.

The Finalists will be assessed and judged on the following:
• A Guided Walk through an area that they are unfamiliar with.
• Track and Sign identification on tracks theses guides may have not come across before.
• A Game Drive that will test their ability to interpret a sighting,
 navigate the game vehicle, and keep their guests satisfied.
• Their Birding skills will be tested by sight as well as audio.
• They will be assessed on their Advanced Rifle Handling and shooting skills.
• Around the evening campfire, they will have to rely
 on their great Story Telling skills to win over the judges and guests.
There are winners for each category listed above, 
and the Winner of SAFARI GUIDE OF THE YEAR 2019 is determined by the
 amount of points that they receive on each assessment.

Information and images supplied by FGASA.