Ulovane Update: Trails Guide Blog Week 5&6
Even if we are all nature enthusiasts and want to protect wildlife, handling a firearm and being able to shoot is a big component as a trails guide. There are 2 main reasons behind it: First of all, it is required by law in South Africa to carry a rifle when conducting a bushwalk in a Big 5 area and secondly it is for the security of the guests and the guides. We mainly learn how to avoid getting into dangerous situations, but we need to be prepared for the worst-case scenario in which we are faced with a serious charge by an animal. Shooting is the last resort and depending on the species it is only legal to take a shot under 10 meters of distance while the animal is charging you.
After passing the drills of the Advanced Rifle Handling, we are very lucky that Ulovane has the facilities to do the famous Jungle Lane Assessment with us, as it is not common for Apprentice Trails Guide students to get offered to do the jungle lane exercise.
The first rule about Jungle Lane: Don’t talk about Jungle Lane. Why? If the next group of students knows more or less what to expect, it will spoil their experience and lessen the learning factor of the drill. Nevertheless, I will make an exception today and give you a little insight in my own words what Jungle Lane actually is without spoiling the experience for you, if you are willing to do the Trails Guide Course with Ulovane.
Jungle Lane is a simulated bushwalk and kind of a worst-case scenario where you are in real-life conditions faced with several dangerous game encounters. You have to conduct a walk in a prepared area where different kinds of animals appear (on posters). You have to spot signs and animals, go through the correct drills in each individual situation and when a dangerous animal appears at close range, you have to place the correct shots at the right time including the right procedures involving the steering of the guests. Every situation is different. You really don’t know what will happen and you are only able to pass if you react quickly and in the correct way. Jungle Lanes are made in a way that especially on the first attempt, you are not able to pass the whole exercise and you will basically “die” multiple times. We got confronted with several situations where we all agreed that they can happen as real situations on a bushwalk and we feel better prepared for a possibly dangerous situation as well as we got sharpened up to avoid getting into these situations at the first place because most of the drills were able to be avoided by just seeing a situation coming as early as possible and reacting in the right way. For all of us, this exercise helped to know what everyone needs to work on, to get some extra sharpness, and generally to stay humble with what we do and which decisions we will make in the future.
I enjoyed most to learn once again, that exceptional situational awareness will keep you alive in the bush and not necessarily being good at handling a firearm.
A big Thank You from my side to Ulovane and everyone else involved in the Jungle Lane belonging to the facilities of Amakhala to make this experience possible for me! It was a lot of fun and I took away even more from it for my further experiences as an Apprentice Trails Guide!
“The comfort zone is a psychological state in which one feels familiar, safe, at ease, and secure. You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.”―
Field Guide Blog Update Week 6
Change your perspective and it will change your life!
The reason I joined the Ulovane Connect Online & Onsite course, was to further my knowledge of flora and fauna. My biggest passion is being outside in the bush, teaching people, and showing them interesting things about the bush that they might not have known before. The Ulovane online course equipped me with all of the necessary theoretical information needed for me to be able to now, during the practical component of my Apprentice Field Guide course, go out into the field and apply this knowledge practically. The next few weeks will be focused on becoming well-rounded field guides that have the ability to pass on endless amounts of knowledge on everything around us such as rocks, soils, birds, mammals, and plants to our future guests.
The first week of the practical onsite course was amazing! I think one of the most interesting parts of the course so far for me was meeting so many different people from all over the world. The first week we dove straight into the practical parts of Astronomy, Geology, Climatology and then ending off with 4×4 Vehicle Skills where we learned how to operate the Land Rover and Land Cruiser, which was a lot of fun!
This week was very exciting as we got to explore all parts of Amakhala Game Reserve, focusing mainly on the different geological formations that we are lucky enough to see first-hand throughout the reserve. We also experienced a great lion sighting where I was sitting on the tracker seat for the first time, the adrenaline flowing through my body as the lions passed by in front of the vehicle was indescribable! I experienced my first Big 5 guided trails walk on Amakhala and really enjoyed it as I definitely started to look at things from a different perspective on foot. The passion Schalk and Piet, our trainers, have for nature encourages all of us at Ulovane to strive and do our best. I am really excited for the next jam-packed 4 weeks of our practical onsite course!
“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire” – Jennifer Lee