Limpopo Field Guiding Academy.

"The beauty of the natural world lies in the details." Natalie Angier




I should have realised that the clouds were a portend of the upcoming weather front. Alas, at this moment in time, there was more blue sky than threatening precipitation so I paid no mind to what awaited over the next few days.




A Lotus flower in the Boekenhoutspruit that runs past the camp reminded me of times that I have previously spent in the Delta in both Botswana and Vietnam. On my previous visit to Tau Camp, these were not in evidence.




My host for the duration of my stay…Pioneer(Pines) Moyo. He is based at the Academy has a most impressive list of qualifications: He is a FGASA Professional Trails Guide, Professional Field Guide, ETDP Assessor of Guides and CyberTracker Track and Sign Specialist and he recently added SKS Birding to his already impressive list of qualifications.




Jason van Zyl was once again in camp to help the current crop of students prepare for their track and sign assessment. Jason has an impressive CV: FGASA Professional Field Guide, FGASA Professional Trails Guide, CyberTracker, Track and Sign Specialist, Trails Guide mentor and a FGASA birding specialist.




A Shongalolo…the colloquial term for this Giant African Millipede. Although it secretes a foul-smelling liquid that can burn your mouth and eyes, the species is neither poisonous nor venomous. Usually, when touched, it will curl into a tight spiral and wait in that position until perceived danger has passed.

This is the largest species of millipede and can grow to 33.5 centimetres in length, and up to 67 millimetres in circumference. Large for this species, but not quite big enough to carry my bag to my tent.




Skulk(ing) around. What is a training camp without a skull? This was the remains of a Wildebeest that I found at the foot of the tree in the centre of Tau Camp.

In a way, a streak reminder of how unforgiving nature can be. That being said, even though the animal might be dead, it lives on as its remains can be used for teaching purposes. In the bush, nothing ever goes to waste.




Pretty tents all in a row…

In previous years, before COVID, the students shared accommodation, now due to the relevant protocols, they each get their own tent.




When you have a few moments between a meal and a lecture and your tent is just too far away. The floor of the lecture room is a cool place to nap.




This was my accommodation for the duration of my stay. It was on the opposite side of the camp to the lecture room and the student accommodation. The tent is spacious, but it lacked electricity and inside ablution facilities. (Both of which are a short walk away, should they be required)

That being said, having been to this camp before, I came prepared with a power bank, torch and a pee bottle (a camping necessity) It also came in VERY useful during the downpour, when heading to the toilet was not an option.

It turned out that the mesh that covers the windows does keep the insects out, but not the rain! And an unexpected afternoon downpour turned my accommodation into an indoor swimming pool…almost. However the bed was dry and I did not feel that getting soaked was worth it, so I lay and watched the rain seep in through the window.

But water could be mopped up, and that is what happened post the deluge, so no harm, no foul.




Awaking in the morning to discover fresh buffalo tracks RIGHT outside my tent. I had heard them during the night but thought that they were further away. Turns out that I was wrong!




When one of the students turns out to be a ‘proper’ musician and can really play…and sing.

Thanks to Enrico for keeping us entertained on my final afternoon.




And I was not the only one enjoying his impromptu performance. One of the international students was enthralled by his music.




Time to say good night? For me anyway. The students still had a couple of hours of work ahead of them as they prepared for a Track & Sign assessment that was planned for the following day.

Got to love the colours of the African sky.




I interviewed Mark Stavrakis and Pioneer Moyo back in July 2020. To watch the interview, click on this link:

If a career as a field guide is of interest to you, then contact the Academy in January 2022 when it reopens. The first course starts on 09/01.









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