Thursday, May 9, 2019

A walk on the wild side from EcoTraining Makuleke Camp.


Time to put the workbooks aside and 
to get out into the field to put the theory into practice.
I had joined the EcoTraining students at Makuleke Camp
 on their Trails Guide course. 

Almost immediately we met the cover model from the manual.
Probably not actually the same identical elephant, 
but they all tend to look similar.
At least to my untrained eye.

Unlike a weekend hike in your local nature reserve,
on a trails walk, especially through terrain
 that might be home to dangerous game,
 lead guides, as well as the back-up guides,  carry rifles.
Usually, .357's or .458's as they have to be able
 to stop large animals should the need arise.

A group discussion to clarify the rules for the walk;
1] Always stay behind the rifle. For a novice trail walker,
 I would have thought that there would be a rifle
 at the head of the group and one at the back.
But practically that would make no sense
 as the back-up guide is exactly that, back up.
You certainly don't want to get guests caught in crossfire
should an incident occur.
2] Walk in silence. To get the guides attention, clicking the fingers
 rather than shouting was advised. 
3]These are not competitive walks, 
so there would be rest stops along the way.
4] Safety first! For both guides and guests.

This small koppie was to be our final goal.
Probably only a kilometer as the crow flies from where we were standing,
but we were taking a scenic route that would extend our walk until sunset.

Striding off across the mud...
There was a hippo in the dam in the distance,
but it never showed any interest in us at all.

Our group disturbed a trio of Buffalo Dagga boys
who were wallowing in a mud hole behind some vegetation.
They were certainly NOT happy at having their afternoon interrupted,
but they showed more interest than aggression towards us.
In terms of the course, the students get to log this as an encounter.
Just one aspect of what is required in order to complete the course successfully.

A small "dazzle" of zebra watched as we made our way across the plains.
(Dazzle is the collective noun for a group of zebra)
They, like the buffalo, were inquisitive but chose to retreat 
rather than stand around trying to figure us out.

In an incident earlier in our walk, one of the students
ended up with his boot ankle deep in mud.
Hence, when it came to another crossing,
 lead guide and instructor Cobus Spies,
tried to make a bridge out of this piece of wood.
It was neither long or strong enough to complete that task
so we ended up walking slightly further than expected
in order to cross safely.

One of the extraordinary spaces that we walked through.
We were lucky in as much as the elephants had made game paths
and there was no need to trail blaze through the thick vegetation.
As if to prove that point, we found some very fresh
 elephant dung on some of the paths that we chose.

Heading into the sunset on the way back to our start point.
The team members were kicking up dust which made for this image

And, from a vantage point on the top of the koppie,
we watched the sunset.
A perfect ending to what had been a great experience for me.

One of the Buffalo dagga boys we had seen earlier
 making his way back to the water.
Quite eerie to see him in virtually no light at all.
The sunlight on the dust trail is what gave his presence away.
Thanks to the students and Cobus for making this 
adventure special for me. 

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 kilometers/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.
BEST SUITCASE EVER!
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!
Photo:

Photo:
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.

Photo:
When I get 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.

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

Even when you are "knee-deep" in poop,
ALWAYS choose to be Batman.
My constant traveling companion.
To find out more about the collectible Funko range of figurines,
visit:

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,
visit:


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:


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and may not be used without permission


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