June 4, 2012


“Go forth under the open sky, and listen to nature’s teachings.” (William Cullen Bryant)

Whether we like it or not, we are into the first week of June already, almost halfway through the year and fast running out of time to make 2012 a memorable one! And with winter now truly here, hibernation is maybe the first option for most. But do not fear when EcoTraining is near, the remaining months are packed with lots of exciting adventures! Have a look what is coming up, courses on offer, what we’ve been up to so far and other interesting snippets.

If you have the urge to make a break and head for the bush, get yourself a place on one of the following EcoTraining short courses on offer in the next couple of months. Come on, you won’t regret it:

13 – 19 July: Tracking – Makuleke: 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!

19 July – 15 August: Trails Guide – Mashatu, Botswana:  Explore the wilderness of Mashatu on foot on the trails guide course where the majority of time will be spent conducting bush walks in big game country. It is open to anyone who wants to experience walking in a true wilderness area, while at the same time increasing your environmental knowledge and situational awareness.

31 July – 13 August: 14 Day Game Ranger – Makuleke/Karongwe: The Game Ranger Experience is for those people who want to learn some of the principles of managing wildlife areas for conservation and preservation of the ecosystems. Experienced instructors Jack Greef and Ralf Kalwa will bring to light the responsibilities of game rangers as the custodians of our wildlife areas and the fact that they are responsible for ensuring that our game and nature reserves are managed in a sustainable manner.

3 – 30 Augustus: 28 Day Field Guide – Lewa, Kenya: Fancy venturing out a bit further north into the African wilderness? Then our 28 day field guide course in Kenya is right up your alley. Learn about nature and ecology from EcoTraining’s wilderness camp in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy where you will encounter the rare black rhino and Grevy’s zebra.

14 August – 10 September: 28 Day Safari Guide – Karongwe: Imagine 28 days of living and learning in nature at our wilderness camps and then using this knowledge to give your safari and bush holidays a whole new meaning. Whether it is your dream or your passion, allow us to help you fulfil that dream!

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: There is no conservation without education. And this is a notion that EcoTraining certainly adheres to. On our courses the literally thousands of interesting facts about nature and its inhabitants is shared and imparted by highly qualified and experienced trainers and within the marvellous setting of our wilderness camps. This is serious business, but there’s always room for having fun whilst learning.

At Selati a group of students got to experience something unique when they were there when LEO Africa (Limpopo Eco Operations Africa) darted and collared a two year old male leopard. LEO will now be able to track and follow this male, studying his behaviour and unearthing more information. And of course EcoTraining students will get in on the act whenever they venture out on into the bush and manage to spot this guy.
This group also had the fortune of attending a wilderness medicine course with the highly experienced Andrew Miller as trainer. They walked away with a greater understanding and urgency that accidents happen anywhere, anytime and one should always be prepared.

Makuleke: Our camp in this concession in the northern most part of the Kruger National Park is living up to its reputation as a true African wilderness with lots of exciting encounters. The courses are packed with excited students chomping at the bits to log their hours walking amidst the famed fever tree forest. Pretty spectacular!

Pongola: The group of FGASA Level One students (55 day course) that finished their course at our facility in this region of KwaZulu-Natal had the time of their lives. After starting at Karongwe in the northern parts of the country, they finished their adventure with lots of exciting things happening a little further to the south. Katie Rumble, a participant from Australia, described their encounter with a member of the big five as follows:
“Yesterday morning we stumbled across a black rhino bull, my first encounter!  He was curious about the vehicle and came closer for a good look, not more than a couple of meters away. Sitting on the tracker seat my heart was in my mouth.”
Instructor Mark Gunn also used the bush telegraph to send through some clues on what the group were up to:
“The scenery is fantastic with the dam and the mountains, the birding is also very good and there’s lots of new tree species for the tree fundi. We had a great viewing with two dung beetles fighting over a dung ball with such vigour that they broke the ball in half. At night the stars are fantastic, so are the stories around the fire!”

Mashatu (Botswana): Communication with our camp on the other side of the border is not always the easiest. Go to EcoTraining – Ecotourism specials on Facebook, like the page and you will see what’s been happening in the Land of Giants.

Office: Corne Schalkwyk (marketing and sales manager) reports back from a highly successful visit to Durban where the team from head office kept the EcoTraining flag flying high at Indaba 2012:
The team returned mostly unscathed from the Durban Indaba recently, four days of tourism meetings and new ideas and avenues to venture into. Complete with bags full of business cards, promising trade leads and the wildest of dreams.
Although in the tourism industry we are exposed to a lot of 'cool stuff', what seemed to stick out at this annual event was the metamorphosis of quality over quantity. Planning prior to the event will sort out the men from the boys and this is indeed very exciting!
Another facet that stood out at Indaba is the movement towards Responsible Tourism. Responsible Tourism is defined in the industry, as ‘developing better places to live in, and better places to visit'. This very worthy revolution has been illuminated through the very recent influx of lodges, coffee makers, and wine estates becoming FTSA (Fair Trade Tourism SA) accredited. The focus of the tourist (that’s you) to start becoming a more considerate traveller is becoming more apparent and relevant, and rightly so. We really have to think of it as future planning - reduce, re-use and recycle must be applicable when holidaying too.
Small niche market low impact sustainable tourism providers also form part of SA Tourism’s brand strategy to get South Africans to see their own country and lessen the impact of global travel.
I would like to make a special mention on behalf of all the people attending Indaba, that SATIB threw the most awesome, well needed party held at the famous (and sometimes infamous) Joe Cools on Durban’s warm beach front. Even the unexpected thunderstorm couldn’t dampen the spirits of the party goers at Joe Cools. Getting the elusive VIP band made for many an interesting conversation and banter.

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.
It’s been 12 years since Nicole Fenton attended an EcoTraining course and almost a decade since she’s left the country of her birth. Time however has in no way tainted her memory of what she calls “a life changing experience with stories that will stay with me forever”. In fact, she is already making plans to come back to the southern tip of Africa to attend another course at one of our wilderness camps.

Nicole currently resides Cornwall in the United Kingdom, after obtaining a degree in zoology through the University of Plymouth in 2010. During her studies, she spent three months studying dwarf mongoose near the Kruger National Park, managing to reconnect with her South African roots. After her degree, she got a position as a primate keeper at the Newquay zoo in Cornwall, mainly looking after Malagasy and South American species.

Nicole says the EcoTraining course changed her life and shaped her career.
“Anyone considering doing an EcoTraining course would not look back. Everything I do and everywhere I travel is always in search of adventure and wildlife or wild places. Africa is very much a big part of me and who I am but I also love travelling to far and wide places in search of new and interesting wildlife to see and study.
“I would highly recommend EcoTraining to anybody; it led me to a life of adventure and amazing memories. I'm even considering going back to do a course just because I would love to have the experience all over again!”
Read more about Nicole’s adventures at http://nicolefentonzoology.blogspot.co.uk/.
We want to hear from you, email liryndej@hotmail.com with your stories!

Go and like our new official fan page on Facebook at EcoTraining – Ecotourism specials.

Also visit us on www.ecotraining.co.za and if you have any questions or queries, send an email to enquiries@ecotraining.co.za.

(Thank you to everybody who contributed with photos and information!)
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