August 6, 2012


 "Although human ingenuity may devise various inventions which, by the help of various instruments, answer to one and the same purpose, yet will never discover any inventions more beautiful, more simple or more practical than those of nature... " (Leonardo da Vinci)

Spring is in the air! Well, almost… And by all accounts it’s going to be a hot and sizzling time counting down to the end of 2012. The call of the African wilderness is louder than ever and EcoTraining is ready with an array of courses to suit all preferences – from the more serious that wish to enter the guiding industry on a full time basis to discerning nature lovers. 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:

10 September – 7 October: Trails Guide – Makuleke: Explore the wilderness of this part of the Kruger National Park on foot 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.

20-26 September: Birding – Mashatu: 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.

27 September – 3 October: Tracking – Mashatu: To unravel the mysteries of nature even further, book a place on a unique seven day tracking course with EcoTraining and some of the most highly qualified trackers and trainers in South Africa. It is fun. It is hands on. It is life changing!

16 October – 8 December: 55 Day FGASA Level One – Karongwe/Selati: 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.

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: Albeit on the smaller side of the scale, they have a reputation as fearsome animals, not scared at all of taking on much bigger opponents. "They" are of course honey badgers. These little rascals have reputation of getting up to lots of mischief when everybody is asleep and supposedly not watching... Luckily a group of students at EcoTraining's wilderness camp at Selati decided to have a late night around the fire recently and had their cameras ready to capture the culprit red handed!

Karongwe: Nature is about all things wild and wonderful and about so much more than just the big and hairies. But let's face it, if any member of the Big Five is putting in an appearance, the nobody is going to say no, not the least a participant on an EcoTraining course! Just ask Candice Wagener, a one year professional field guide student: 
"It was a long day of studying and then the GVI guys (volunteer project also based at Karongwe) started going mad on the radio about ingala being in the area. So we decided to go for a drive and see if we can spot these lions ...

As we turned the corner, there they were, the two lions, Sorro and Lisa. We parked close by and watched them, all the while still keeping the bird list ticking. Then Dale says 'By the way, did you see the other two lions over there?' Heads turned, one was lying in the grass and the other walked out of a ditch. And then a fifth one made an appearance. Sorro and Lisa did their thing (some mating) and then Sorro didn't want his female companion to join the rest of the gang, proceeding with chasing one of the young boys off. It was the most amazing thing! Africa's big cats let us tag along on their afternoon agenda, fantastic!"

This was just the start of an amazing month at Karongwe. Camp coordinator Olga and student Martin Hooijenga sent through this exciting update recently:
“It’s day eight and we had a week of amazing sightings that gave our group already the status as the ‘Lucky Group’. Just listen to this – day two we Zero, the big male lion, with two females; day three the hyenas with the babies; day five a jawless but massive rock python. Day six and seven passed without anything spectacular, so thankfully all was back to ‘normal' for our lucky group on day eight…

Then, as quick as a flash, a leopard leapt into the reeds! I thought I was dreaming, too eager to see a leopard again, but seeing the response of the students I was clearly not… It was amazing! Shortly after we heard an elephant trumpeting from the same direction, apparently harassed by the leopard and trying to chase it away. That worked as the leopard jumped again, now out of the reeds into our direction but swiftly disappeared into the grass again…
Just as we crossed Spectra crossing, Scar, a male leopard, appeared, barely three metres from the vehicle, looking at us, a little bit disturbed but overall relaxed. We couldn’t believe our eyes! Like a real gentleman he posed a bit for the cameras and then lied down a bit further off. 
It sounded like we were photographing some movie star with shutters going off left, right and centre, click-click-click-click! A little later Scar moved off between the reeds and we proceeded on our way back to camp, full of excitement!
... We cheered to the ending of another great day in the bush!”

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!

Erindi Game Reserve (Namibia): EcoTraining has landed in Namibia! As part of our commitment to guiding excellence all through Africa, we have struck up various partnerships to improve the skills and knowledge of field guides. And now the guiding community in Namibia is part of this and benefiting from the years of experience that EcoTraining has in the industry. Ralph Kirsten is the instructor and MJ Kirsten the camp coordinator for the current course being run in the Erindi Game Reserve. 

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.

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. We want to hear from you, email with your stories!

Go and like our new official fan page on Facebook at EcoTraining – Ecotourism specials.
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(Thank you to everybody who contributed with photos and information!)

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