March 5, 2012


“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” (Gandhi)

A third of the year is almost done and dusted, but there’s still nine months left of 2012 to come live and walk amidst the spectacular wildlife of the African bush. From a handful of days to one year, the choices are endless!  We look forward to inviting you to one of our camps, so go on, have a look, you won’t regret it!

It’s a leap year, so why don’t you make it even more unique and make a life altering career choice by joining EcoTraining on of their courses in 2012. Get yourself a place on one of the following EcoTraining courses on offer in the next couple of months:

1 – 7 April: Rhino Conservation – Makuleke: The plight of the rhinoceroses has never been as pressing as right now. From 448 poached in 2011 to already more than one a day in 2012 (in South Africa), rhino conservation has become a top priority today. EcoTraining, for almost 20 years now a trainer of custodians for nature’s inhabitants, is making rhino conservation and adventure tourism meet with our first rhino conservation course.  

1 – 7 April: Birding in the Bush – Karongwe: For all the birding enthusiasts, this is a very practical course, designed to broaden and enrich your knowledge and skills by educating you about the fascinating world of birds and the interdependent relationships between them and other life forms.

7 – 13 April: Bush Skills and Survival – Selati: Everything you need to know to survive in the African bush – where and how to find food, how to overcome being lost in the bush and how to build a shelter, learn tracker skills and situational awareness in the bush.

14 – 20 April: Tracking – Selati:  To unravel the mysteries of nature even further, book a place on a unique seven day tracking course with EcoTraining and Adriaan Louw, one of the most highly qualified trackers and trainers in South Africa. It is fun. It is hands on. It is life changing!

18 – 22 April: Wildlife Photography – Galago: Under the guidance of Lex Hes, co-owner of EcoTraining, you will be given the time and opportunity to put into action the thought processes behind the making of good wildlife photographs.

8 April – 31 May: FGASA Level One – Karongwe/Pongola: This one is if you intend to enter the guiding industry as field guide or if you’ve chosen a professional career linked to wildlife or nature. Every minute will be a learning experience, being constantly exposed to the bush.

And here’s what is happening on the environmental calendar in the next month:
19-25 March                       National Water Week
23 March                             World Meteorological Day

Camps: Every minute on one of our courses in our camps in South Africa, Botswana and Kenya is a learning experience, being constantly exposed to the bush. See what the guys and girls have been up to in the past month!

Selati: Each batch of EcoTraining students brings new adventures and challenges and the crew that arrived at our wilderness camp here, have been no exception.  Of the 20 new recruits, half are year students and half are doing the FGASA Level 1 course. Within their first week, the group had a few special encounters, from bumping into the female lions while parked at the watering hole, to tracking an elephant breeding herd.  An afternoon drive brought fresh sightings of genet, spotted hyena, and African civet.  And then some students took a morning off to accompany an instructor on a fishing excursion at the weir, where they were treated to an unofficial fish lecture on site. 

Karongwe: At the beginning of January 2012 seven fearless Europeans came to EcoTraining’s wilderness camp in Karongwe to learn more about the South African bush. And in the end, after their 28 day safari guide course, they managed to say that they saw three of the Big Five in just one afternoon. What a way to end a fantastic adventure!
Marion and Rita, two of the students, share a snippet  about their time at Karongwe: Over the last weeks we had learned to respect and, what’s more, to admire Dale for his patience with us, his profound knowledge and his great spirit. And once again he proved that we can trust him 100%. He moved our vehicle away when the elephant bull was getting just a little too close, but just far enough that it would not spoil our experience. And one by one the whole herd of 14 elephants including youngsters appeared. It was simply amazing to experience these big fellows in their natural habitat so close by.

Makuleke: A group of trails guide and FGASA Level One students shared our wilderness camp in the northern part of the Kruger National Part for the better part of last month. Stuart Gadd, a Level One student, went with the trails guide students on an outing and sleep out deep into the bush. He described the experience as follows:
“In our so called ‘busy civilised lives’ it was an amazing experience to be far from civilisation yet want for nothing.  To be alone in your own head with only the majesty and beauty of the wilderness for company is an incredible experience, one that everyone should share…”

Mashatu (Botswana): Our wilderness camp just across the border is fast becoming a firm favourite with all that dare to cross the Limpopo River via cable-car and step into the unknown. The vastness of the landscape and the abundance of wildlife combine for an unforgettable experience. Head instructor Brian Rhode sums up the trails guide course that ended recently:
At the beginning of January Chantelle (instructor) and I welcomed 12 students to our camp near Solomon’s Wall for a month of trails walking. The area was looking lovely with all the Devil’s Thorn flowers scattered across the soil. Although there has not been much grass growing we have had an influx of general game. There have been many zebras and wildebeest that have gathered in our area. The general game is normally pretty good this side, but with all the zebras and wildebeest it has been a feast for the eyes.
After a month of walking and some incredible sightings, we can safely say that it has been another great day in Africa.

Lewa (Kenya): You can be assured that something unusual and out of the ordinary will happen on every EcoTraining course. We are after all in the business of creating an experience with a difference and one to be remembered. The group of students on the 28 day field guide course in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy found out just this when they headed out for their morning walk.
They stumbled upon an injured tawny eagle that apparently flew into an elephant proof fence, as the injuries to its wing and one leg suggested. The bird of prey was taken to the rehabilitation centre of Martin Wheeler on the Lekerukki community ranch close to Lewa. The latest on the tawny eagle is that it has started walking but is not yet ready to fly. It will probably be another couple of weeks before it gets its strength back and is ready to soar in the skies above Lewa once again.

Office: Most of you would have had some contact with the team from the head office in Nelspruit, obtaining information on the course you want to attend, are currently on or have just finished!
Angela handles sales and enquiries and Maritza the administration.  
Marxanne deals with operations and logistics, Eugene is her right hand man.
Corne heads up marketing, Liryn is assisting with social media and the likes.
Anton and Lex are the owners of EcoTraining.

For almost two decades now EcoTraining has been training field guides, starting way back in 1993 with the first batch of eager students attending the inaugural course in the Sabi Sands reserve in Mpumalanga. Since then a great number has gone on to make their mark in the industry and are continuing to do great work all over the world.
Anton Lategan, co-owner of EcoTraining, recently met up with Michael Clark, in the Himalayas of all places. Certainly very far away from the sunny South African bushveld, but having trained with the company 10 years ago, it was nonetheless a pleasant reunion.

Michael, who hopes to come back to South Africa later in the year to do trails guide and tracking courses, remembers his time at EcoTraining:
Currently I am in Nepal, training up young Nepali naturalists, and planning my own naturalist training academy for this country, basing it very much on EcoTraining’s style of training. A Tiger monitoring project in the near future awaits, as well as spending more time with an eco club run by local teenage children.
I cannot express enough how much I would recommend EcoTraining. Anyone who is serious about a career in ecotourism or simply wants a sabbatical from work, the experiences you can have on their courses can lead to a whole new way of life, and provide you with memories to truly cherish.”

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(Thank you Chris, Bruce, Mark and Sam for the photos!)
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