Motsumi Bush Courses with Bennet de Klerk.

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Bennet and the students jumping for joy at the beginning of the course. A lot of exciting experiences lie ahead for them under the guiding hand of the legendary Bennet de Klerk.

 

 

 

Motsumi Bush Courses has been a FGASA-endorsed training and assessment provider since 1997. Many of our ex-students now hold senior positions in lodges, safari companies and other Guide Training Facilities.

What makes Motsumi different, is our personal approach.

Founder of Motsumi, and Trainer Principal, Bennet de Klerk, is intimately involved in every step of the course. Most of the training will be done by him with the occasional relief of a subject matter expert being called in for some change of scenery.

This is my second trip to this training facility and there have been several upgrades to the campsite. The most noticeable is the recently installed gravel paths that link the tents and the log cabins assigned to the students.

The tents offer shared accommodation for two students, while the cabins are for single use and not shared.(but they need to be reserved when you book your course)

 

 

 

This was my accommodation at the main house. I am assuming that if specialist lecturers are engaged, then this is where they will sleep.

It has a shower as well as a fridge and a small kitchenette making it fully self-catering.

 

 

 

Even though Bennet spent time in the military, the camp is NOT run on those guidelines. He does expect the camp and surrounds to be kept clean and to that end, he split the students into teams that will cycle through the various tasks for the 8-week duration of the course.

While I was in camp they were assigned to terrain, cooking and management roles. With the latter having to take responsibility for any shortfall in the other two.

 

 

 

The light on the branches as the sun dipped below the surrounding mountain ranges signalled the end of the first day of the NQF 2 course.

 

 

 

Just another African sunset, but the first in the bush, under canvas, for the students.

 

 

 

Breakfast. And it was eggs in a variety of guises. Scrambled, fried and as omelettes, which were served with bread and a strong cup of coffee.

 

 

 

The most important moment…The handing out of the text and workbooks. Although there is a practical element to this course there is paperwork that needs to be completed to prove that the prescribed work modules have been completed. Paperwork can be the bane of a guide’s life, but it is necessary. Especially when it comes to logging trails hours, records have to be accurately kept.

Top Tip: Keep your paperwork up to date daily where possible.

 

 

 

It looks as if reality has set in and the group is beginning to realize that work lies ahead for the next 8 weeks.

 

 

 

Students had been warned that Bruno would escape from Bennet’s house and make his way to camp. And he had. He is a lovable character and students find it hard NOT to have him in camp.

Having said that, he is the master of his own destiny and when he has had enough, he takes himself back to the main house, or off to check tracks and smells in the surrounding bush.

 

 

 

Bennet in his own words…

I was fortunate to grow up on a Kalahari Game Farm. HI had an early fascination with animal tracking and the Bushmen, leading to many disciplinary issues in high school, where my refusal to wear shoes led to a certain amount of friction with school authorities.

After finishing a degree at the University of the Orange Free State, I embarked on a 4-year stint as an overland safari guide. This took me through memorable voyages to Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia.

On May 1, 1994, I accepted a position with Kwa Maritane in the Pilanesberg National Park, where I was soon promoted to training officer for guides, and as a result, I have been a full-time guide trainer since 1996.

I hold a Level 3 SKS (Dangerous Game) guide and assessor.

But that is not all… I continued my military career in the Reserve Forces and attained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the SANDF. My passion is developing naturalists (the ones who wear clothes).

I do wear shoes quite often, these days“.

 

 

 

Seated in the classroom showing the students an example of just one of the many skulls that he has in his collection.

 

 

 

Books, books and more books. And it is not just these ones! Oh no, there are a plethora of reference books that are used in conjunction with these.

And there are tests every week and an exam at the end of the course, for which the pass mark is 75%, which is strictly enforced.

 

 

 

An accident when trying to clear hornet nests from the classroom. Hornets 1-Tent 0.

However, in the end, Bennet emerged triumphant and the hornets vacated their nest and the classroom.

 

 

 

A flock of geese flew overhead as we arrived at Pilanesburg National Park, a 40-minute drive from the camp.

Once a week students get the opportunity to host game drives in this park. This enables them to gain confidence and to quickly and concisely share information about what the animals are doing. This is not about the transference of book/internet knowledge. It is about interpreting what is seen and then sharing that with guests. Inform, Entertain and Educate, could be the mission statement.

 

 

 

A Nile Monitor, one of several that we saw on the side of the road. They are normally found in or near water.

FYI: Their tail can grow to more than a metre in length and has multiple functions. It acts as a counterweight while running, an oar to help power it in the water and a whip to lash out at assailants in self-defence.

 

 

 

This is probably one of the biggest musth elephants I have ever been this close to. And one of the most relaxed. It had walked past us earlier and at that point, it had been less than an arm’s length away from our vehicle. Dribbling urine down both back legs we could smell him before we saw him…almost. It is difficult to miss an elephant of this size.

We treated him with respect and he had seemingly no interest in us our our vehicle.

Did you know? When bull elephants mature, they go into a periodic phase known as musth, characterised by high levels of testosterone and a spurt in energy, during which they might show heightened aggression and unpredictability.

 

 

 

A sighting that I was unprepared for and as a result, I almost missed the shot. Leopards are being seen on a regular basis in the park and we were lucky that the visual that we had, albeit brief, was not hampered by other vehicles.

 

 

 

Most people can recognize the lioness track, but can you tell me what type of tyre left the track on the right? Answers on a postcard please.

 

 

 

And if you want to know what the tyre track is, you can get a copy of this book. Available either from Motsumi or via david@travelandthings.co.za.

It was a limited edition so there are not many copies left…

 

 

 

As this large troop of baboons heads off to their sleeping quarters for the night, it is time for Bennet, the students and I to make our way back to camp.

An exciting day for all with sightings that will be spoken about around campfires for years to come.

It was also my final day with the students as I had to head back to Johannesburg the following morning. I hope to return for their graduation ceremony in 7 weeks time.

My thanks to Bennet for hosting me and to the students for welcoming me into their group. It was a great week.

To find out what courses the company has planned for 2024, click on their logo above.

The Motsumi mantra is simple: “The only way to get to know The Bush, is to leave your footprints there”.

 

 

This is the course that these students are currently on. To find out when the next one is, contact Bennet directly.

 

 

 

Travel is the proud winner of this prestigious award from the digital British lifestyle magazine Luxlife. The award is in the category Best Travel & Experiences Blog 2024 – South Africa

 

 

 

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