Safari Guide of the Year 2021. Track and Sign assessment.

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"Cherish times like these. They are very special and the opportunity for guides to compete for themselves does not come around very often. Make this a week to remember and one that you can look back on in years to come as a very special time where knowledge was shared and bonds were formed. Just be you." Mike Karantonis, Co-Owner at Africa Direct and founder of Safari Guide of the Year.

 

 

 

My ‘home’ at the N.J More Field Guide College in the Waterberg was the base from which all the Safari Guide of the year activities were undertaken. For those who are wondering, I was there as a content producer and not as a competitor.

 

 

The view as we set off towards the area where the assessment would take place. The backdrop is truly spectacular with the Drakensberg Mountain Range stretching from horizon to horizon.

 

 

A White-fronted Bee-eater watched as we drove past on the way to where the assessment was to take place.

 

 

All the finalists were kitted out by Ruggedwear clothing…Real people, Real clothing, Real Solutions is their motto and the brand is highly respected by both the guiding and the hospitality industries. And the finalists really looked ‘sharp’ for this special 10th Anniversary event.

 

 

And shoes from SAPMOK…according to the finalists, the most comfortable shoes that they have ever worn.

 

 

The books were for reference after the event.

 

 

Hi-ho, Hi-ho it’s off to track we go…while this group of finalists, judges, media and guests was setting off, a young male leopard sauntered across the path not too far ahead of the group. His tracks, and where he stopped to look up the road in our general direction would become the penultimate question in the assessment.

 

 

What sign is this? It is a Scrub Hare eating the leaves off the Acaia bush

 

 

Did you get the answer to the Scrub Hare eating question correct? You did? Then you would know that this was not made by a bird, but by a Scrub Hare. Who knew that their poop looked so similar to that of a bird. Obviously, the finalists knew as they got it right!

 

 

Wayne, out of his depth seeing that he is from the Eastern Cape trying to gain points by doing squats as well as the track ID.

 

 

TJ takes his time to make certain that he identifies the track correctly…

 

 

Mike, who is great with birds, was castigating himself about a couple of mistakes that he had made.

 

 

Sean trying to figure out what track he was looking at.

 

 

Civilized trying not to overthink the moment. Easy to do when you are focused on what is in front of you and the fact that you are the final competitor to tackle this task.

 

 

Lucas and Alan sharing a moment during the assessment. Lucas is a Master Tracker and Alan was one of the judging panel who had set aspects of this particular task.

 

 

It was not all work and no play… At the end of the finalist’s assessment, teams were put together from the past winners, guests and the current finalists in a ‘fun’ competition. No prizes, but the winning team (which happened to be the past winners) were able to claim bragging rights.

 

 

A perfect ending to a tough day of competition and camaraderie. Goodnight from the Waterberg…just another day in Africa.

 

 

THE FINALISTS

 

 

THE SPONSORS