Apprentice Trail Guide Course

Apprentice Trail Guide Course 2019- NJ MORE Field Guide College

On the morning of the 21st of May, there was a lot of excitement in the air at Schotia Camp as it was the first day of our apprentice trail guide course. Everyone was amped up as we started our journey to become Apprentice Trails Guides. We started the first few days with a 3-hour morning walk and a 3-hour afternoon walk. In between the walks, we had lectures to prep us for the upcoming theory exam.

We finished the lectures on the 25th of May and the excitement levels went through the roof because now the long trail walks could begin. The morning of the 26th of May we had our first full 6-8-hour trail. It was soon clear that it’s not all fun and games out on the walks and that 8 hours is a long time to walk. But everyone was still very eager to learn and explore the beautiful Marataba area from a different perspective.

Apprentice Trail Guide Course

The encounters we had were absolutely mind-blowing. Some of the dangerous game species we saw whilst walking were White Rhino, Black Rhino, Elephant, Hippo, Lion and Buffalo. But we did not focus solely on the dangerous game. There is an incredible amount of diversity in the wilderness, such as insects, plant species and birds, just to name a few. We also got some very handy tips and techniques on survival in the bush – from where to shelter if you get lost and have to spend a night in the wilderness, to different food sources you can make use of and different ways of getting water.

Apprentice Trail Guide Course

On the 5th of June, we had to put the walking aside and focus on studying for the theory exam. The stress levels were running high as the deadline approached. As the sun rose on exam day, a lot of nervous faces crept out of their tents hoping that they had studied enough. The next 2 and a half hours was all the students had to ensure that they passed the exam and kept the dream of becoming Trails Guides alive.

After the stressful morning, we then got called in one by one to find out if we had passed. The students performed extremely well, and it just shows what you put in you will get out. Not only was the 8th of June our exam day, but it was also one of the students 21st birthday, so we could unwind that evening, and all celebrate his 21st together.

While the students were enjoying their success, the mentors were busy sorting out the roster for our assessment week. This would not be your typical assessments, as we were mentored every step of the way. Every day there were two students being assessed, with the rest of their teammates acting as their guests. The mentored assessments went very well, and the group is now filled with qualified Apprentice Trails Guides.

In the end, I think I speak for each and every student that was part of this course by saying this was a life-changing experience. Walking in the untamed wilderness is an experience that many only dream of. We gained an immense amount of knowledge that we all can take further as we embark on the journey of becoming Trails Guides. Walking in the wilderness is definitely where memories are made.

Johan Meiring

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NJ MORE Field Guide College student Jasmin Stäheli managed to capture this beautiful picture of two hippos surfacing at Fish Eagle Dam at just the right moment.

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You'll often see Kudu out on the reserve, but it's always a special treat when a Gemsbok makes an appearance, as it is one of the rarer antelope species we see at Marataba

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Enjoy the freedom of the bush and gain invaluable knowledge of the natural world with our 60-Day Apprentice Field Guide Course. We're offering 20% off our July intake to the first 4 people who apply, so book your spot now! T&Cs apply. The course starts on the 10th of July.
Email to make a booking.

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Nothing quite compares to an orange-hued African sunset...

📸 : Field Guide Student Jasmin Stäheli

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A letter to the editor of the Sunday Times ZA, by Robert More.

"There is a limit. A limit to how long businesses that have had no revenue and people who have had no income for 80 days of lockdown can survive.

That statement, made by President Cyril Ramaphosa last week announcing adjustments to the Level 3 lockdown, brought a small, but short-lived sigh of relief from the Tourism Sector; hope that sense would prevail and amended regulations would pave the way for a meaningful reopening so that businesses and jobs could be saved.

This pandemic, which has seen a global health and economic crisis of ever-increasing proportion, has hit Tourism especially hard. One of the first economic sectors, and certainly the one earmarked for reopening last, the Tourism Sector was affected long before the 27 March lockdown date was announced.

Feeling that pain with us have been the communities, associated sectors and informal businesses who rely on an active Tourism Sector for their livelihoods.

At present, the Level 3 regulations allow hotels, lodges, B&Bs, timeshare facilities, resorts and guest houses to host business travellers and remaining tourists, as well as provide accommodation for quarantine and isolation purposes. Travel for leisure purposes has not been allowed explicitly, whether that is across provincial borders or not.

On paper, the accommodation sector seems open, albeit for certain categories of guests only. In reality, many accommodation establishments only serve leisure markets, or a mix of leisure and business. Their survival depends on leisure tourism reopening, and while the gradual reopening of domestic business travel, including inter-provincial business travel, is welcome, it alone will not sustain the thousands of small and large accommodation providers whose businesses are inextricably linked to leisure tourism.

Statistics South Africa indicates that as much as 90% of the domestic accommodation market is leisure, and that 60% of all domestic overnight trips are across provincial borders – in the case of Gauteng, that percentage is higher, 70%. Many accommodation businesses in surrounding provinces rely entirely on Gauteng’s outbound domestic leisure business.

We have seen extraordinary inconsistencies in the gradual reopening of South Africa’s economy. The welcome further relaxing of restrictions on accommodation establishments, as announced by President Ramaphosa, will be well and truly meaningless – yet another inconsistency – if domestic leisure tourists are still barred from travelling, inter-provincial travel remains in lockdown and businesses are unable to trade due to lack of demand.

Travel is happening. Whether it is across provincial borders for business, for study, for funerals or to care for vulnerable family members. These travellers can travel safely because of the stringent health and safety protocols that have been put in place by the tourism and hospitality sector to curb the spread of the pandemic, for all travel. And if these can travel safely, why can’t leisure travellers?

We remain hopeful that, as our regulations are being drafted, our pledge to safeguard our guests and staff through these robust health and safety protocols and the nature of how our Tourism Sector operates will ensure the President’s encouraging announcement will result in the meaningful easing our industry needs right now to survive.

Yours in Tourism,
Robert More
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