I bid farewell to the 2019 Tourvest Guide Academy intake.

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“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” Tata Madiba,Nelson Mandela

 

I have driven past this ‘loo-with-a-view’, situated on the R36, on many occasions. During a recent trip, I decided to stop and take a picture as it might not be here the next time I travel along this road. I cannot understand why it was erected here, literally in the middle of nowhere, as it seems to serve no purpose at all.AND it was locked!

 

Conspiracy theorists warn that we are being constantly monitored and tracked by our digital equipment. Prior to this trip, I have always questioned that fact, but as I turned onto the gravel road that leads towards the Tourvest Guide Academy, the song that was playing in my car was Dirt Road by Sawyer Brown. Coincidence? I don’t think so!

 

I arrived, after a 5-hour drive, ready to interact with the students that I had met in late 2019 when visiting the Tourvest Guide Academy for the first time. There were 16 students on the Field Guide course, but through a democratic voting process, the students chose 6 to be representatives for the group.

 

These are the students that I came to catch up with: Clockwise from L to R: Tati, Tumelo, Lolo, Deacon, Gomo and Percy (whom I found in my room, fixing a leaking tap)!

 

This Yellow-bellied Sand snake was outside my room, waiting to welcome me! A stunningly beautiful reptile that is mildly venomous to humans. It stayed in this position for the longest while we watched each other and then slithered away while I was not looking.

Did you know? It is a misconception to call snakes poisonous, as none of them is. Those that pose a threat to humans are venomous, and the difference between poisonous and venomous is that the former needs to be ingested, while the latter is injected.

 

Peering from the top of a nearby tree, this young Vervet monkey was one of a family that caused me to have to sit in the dining area as they had taken up residence on my verandah. Luckily, for us both, they were not there for too long and neither of us was inconvenienced for an extended period of time.

 

This is what the new Tourvest Guide Academy graduates will be seeing on a regular basis in the months and years to come. But, when this is the view from your “office”, who can really complain about getting up BEFORE sunrise?

Did you know? If guests have to be woken at 05h00 to leave on a 05h30 game drive, then the on-duty Field Guide is invariably up at around 03h30 in order to prep the hotbox for the game drive as well as the coffee/tea/biscuits that are served at the lodge before departure.

 

The Tourvest Guide Academy that the 2019 students will have said goodbye to by the time this posting has been published. The 2020 intake will be arriving shortly.

 

The Leopard Tortoise is one of the “Little 5”, and they are faster than you think. This one was pretending to emulate its feline counterpart by hiding behind this foliage while glaring at me from the safety of its shell.

Fun fact: If a tortoise loses its shell, is it naked or homeless? The answer, of course, is that it cannot be separated from its shell and would therefore not survive the loss of the entire shell. However, they can survive if part of the shell be damaged.

 

The is no such thing as either a walk or a drive without ‘seeing anything’. When all else fails, there are always Impala around that can be used as a learning opportunity.

Did you know? Young Impalas are born around mid-day, while most of the species that prey on them are resting. 50% of the newborns are lost to predators in the first few weeks after birth. Even Baboons will eat the newly born as their mothers have little or no defences against the giant canines of an adult male primate.

 

Male Giraffes are often found fighting for dominance or for mating rights. The sound and sight of their necks slamming into each other can be quite unnerving when witnessed for the first time. These altercations do not normally end in death or serious injury, however, there have been recorded cases where one or both have occurred.

 

A fork-tailed Drongo, one of the cleverest birds in the African bush. It is able to mimic the calls of both birds and small mammals, thus enabling it to steal food from other species.

 

A Black-collared Barbet, looking like it is two Barbets that have been stitched together.

 

 

One of the students sharing their feelings about the role of Black women in the guiding industry. Segametsi ‘Lolo’ Makinita, you are the voice of reason in a sea of non-support and male domination. Listen to what Lolo has to say and be inspired. If we only had more of her generation who thought this way.

 

If I was concerned about being watched when I arrived at the entrance to the camp, I was even more convinced when I left…”Homeward Bound” by Simon & Garfunkel!

 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank not only the students that I interacted with but all the EcoTraining instructors that made me welcome and allowed me to share a range of experiences that I will not forget any time soon. To the graduating class of 2019, I wish you all the very best in your careers going forward and I do hope that we get to meet again at some point in the future.

 

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