September 5, 2012


 “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin" (William Shakespeare)

Shake of the winter blues, it is officially spring! The bush is slowly emerging from its slumber, waiting for the first rains to throw a green blanket over everything and for the sun to heat things up. 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.


It’s time to strut your stuff on a grand scale, and what better way than with winning a fantastic birding trip for two worth over R25 000 from 21-27 October 2012! Dust those binoculars off and start scanning the skies because EcoTraining, in cooperation with Africa Geographic and Africa – Birds and Birding, is offering this unique experience to some lucky ‘twitchers’. The competition closes on 15 September 2012. To enter, send us a birding related email on our enquiry page on the website at , or like our fan page on Facebook:  EcoTraining – Ecotourism Specials and post your birding photos in the competition album.

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:
27 September – 3 October (as well as 26 November – 2 December): 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!

3 – 9 October: Seven Day Wildlife Photography – Mashatu: Under the guidance of highly experienced photographers, you will be given the time and opportunity to put into action the thought processes behind the making of good wildlife photographs.
7 – 20 October: 14 day EcoQuest – Karongwe/Makuleke: Attend this course if you are a student testing the waters for a career in this field or if you are an adventurous spirit wanting to gain a greater understanding of nature and the environment whilst experiencing the excitement of the bush.
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.
13 – 25 November: Conservation and Research – Mashatu: If you want to join in an unrivalled adventure experience, then book a place on this course.  For 14 days you will roam this massive tract of land in the easternmost corner of Botswana, the ideal terrain to appreciate the wild. This course offers you the opportunity to join a dedicated research project in a new approach to game management.
23 November – 20 December: 28 day Safari Guide – Makuleke: 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: At EcoTraining we pride ourselves in giving students and participants a true wilderness experience on all our courses. And sometimes it can be hair rising with our camps being right in the middle of the bush, unspoilt. After all, Africa is not for sissies, or so the adage goes. JP le Roux, head instructor at our wilderness camp in the Selati Game Reserve, reported via the bush telegraph that  the bush never sleeps:
After a long night where the silence of the bush was broken several times by the alarm calls of a nyala and the whooping calls of spotted hyenas, things in camp eventually became silent…
… and revealed the secrets of the night, as I walked over the faint drag marks just a few meters from my house here at Selati. Some irregular patterns immediately caught my attention…
As I continued, the single track of a female leopard to the side of the drag marks started forming the complete story. I followed the trail a little further, until all signs disappeared in front of me in a dense area best to be avoided…  
The search continues… 

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's first venture to Namibia in helping to improve the skills and knowledge of field guides in this part of Africa has come to an end. And what a great experience it was for the group of students who attended the 28 day FGASA Level One field guide course in the Erindi Game Reserve! Perhaps then the last word should belong to student Gift Inambao and a sighting that put the cherry on top of an amazing adventure:  

What a lovely morning drive we had, seeing a lot of game…
Later on during our morning drive we saw a gemsbok looking concerned. We moved closer and the gemsbok didn’t seem to take any notice of us, he just stared into a direction. We looked the same way and in front of some rocks we saw four cheetahs!  The cheetah started to walk away, so we slowly followed them, they seemed unconcerned.  Every tree they came to, they cent marked, tree after tree.  We spend around half an hour watching the cheetahs, they were so relaxed climbing termite mounds and just lying around.  
For me it was definitely my favourite day of training with EcoTraining at Erindi! 

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.

Lewa (Kenya): The vast open plains of East Africa have an allure all of their own... For as far as the eye can see there are open grasslands, dotted with wooden giants reaching for the skies and in the distance a mountain rising from the valley floor. Yet another very successful EcoTraining 28 day Field Guide course in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya ended recently. Instructor Mark Gunn sent through this exciting update and photos from the course:
We left the camp at 06h30 and saw lions within three minutes!  Having left them we walked about another 10 minutes and walked into a black rhino. We spent about 20 minutes watching and discussing him and then walked off.  Siafu ants were the next item on the menu. Ten minutes of watching them and being bitten, we then got down to a decent walk. About an hour later we came across another rhino. Skirting him we saw a herd of rhino approaching us over a rise. We watched them for a while but had to move before they got too close as we had no cover. What a fantastic walk!

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!

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

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