Hi there everyone!
It’s that time of the year where nothing can be better than walking every morning and afternoon in the almighty African bush… and that is exactly what we have been doing these past few weeks! Our one month Trails Guide Course has kicked off with another big bang and yes, it’s just getting better and better.
Our students have seen the Big Five on foot! To say that you have experienced this is already absolutely incredible. We have been extremely fortunate with our encounters and sightings so far and have learnt so much in such a short period of time. You can only realise how mighty an elephant is or how intimidating a buffalo bull is when you are on your feet in the middle of their world! To say the least, everyone has a new found respect for these wonderful creatures… big and small.
It is an amazing feeling to become tuned into your surroundings and that is exactly what you need to do as a trails guide. You need to make use of sight, smell, hearing as well as feeling to interpret what is happening around you. As the course is progressing, we have all become more and more in tune with nature and can look at it with new eyes.
We can now hear the crack of a branch, smell the scent of an elephant bull in musth, see the freshness of a “dugga boy” track and so much more.
We have also learnt how to approach these animals without them being aware of any disturbance whatsoever by reading the wind direction, keeping the sun behind us and always using sufficient bush cover. The perfect balance between caution and curiosity is applied to each approach which is vital to learn and be safe in the bush.
The most memorable encounter so far was a female leopard. We were walking across an open area when we hear bushbuck calling nearby. We approached a drainage line where we then heard the alarm calls of baboon as well as Vervet monkeys. We carefully crossed the dry river bed and came across leopard tracks. After a few metres we then saw fresh scat which belonged to the female leopard which we spotted as soon as we lifted our heads, walking down the road!
We slowly followed and for about a minute or so we could say we stalked a leopard. She then moved off into the bush after which we all looked at each other and said, “Did that just happen?”
This and countless other encounters have made for priceless experience. Stay tuned to see what happens next!
The ANT Blog