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Ecotraining: the ultimate way to learn about the African bush

Looking for an incredible and unforgettable life experience in the African bushveld? Are you a future game ranger, or just a passionate nature lover seeking invaluable knowledge on African fauna and flora? Or perhaps you’re envisioning close encounters with Big 5 animals?

If the answer to one of these questions is YES, then what you are about to read is FUNDAMENTAL!!! 😉 A once in a lifetime experience not to be missed…

Ecotraining in a Nutshell

In my opinion, Ecotraining is one of the best companies that conducts formal training programs for nature guides. I’ve had the opportunity to take part in their 28 day Field Guide Training at Keer Keer Camp (Timbavati Game reserve, South Africa), and the experience turned out to be one of the most exhilarating times of my life!

Whether you want to learn about African trees and their uses, bird life, animal behaviour, rifle handling, bush skills and survival, or animal tracking; the list goes on and on! All skills required are taught in detail in this magnificent course!

Here’s a brief outline of what you can experience and learn about:

  • Game drives
  • Night drives (+ Spotlighting)
  • Walks
  • Sleep in the bush (one of my favourites 🙂 )
  • Basic 4×4 driving
  • Lectures on various topics (ecotourism, geology, trees and uses, guiding …)
  • Tracking of animals
  • Bush navigation and orientation (and boy did I need it…I still do actually 🙂 )
  • Testing and evaluations

It’s a lot of fun, whether you’re doing it seriously (careerwise) or just out of interest!

My Experience

I took the course in October 2003, and since then have recommended it to all “Africa Freaks” out there! 😉

Keer Keer camp is situated in the Timbavati, a Game Reserve bordering Kruger National Park. It’s Big 5 country, so you can literally encounter some of the most incredible and beautiful creatures on Earth!

Provided below are some of the highlights of my stay:

– The whole camping experience. Being able to sleep in a safari tent in Big 5 territory is in itself quite exciting! Keer Keer camp is not fenced off which makes it even more thrilling!

Night sounds can be extraordinary, especially when an entire herd of buffalo (over 600 individuals) comes storming through the campsite, chased by a pride of lions!

What a symphony: we could hear one of the beast’s struggle as it went down in a fight for survival! To our astonishment we found the carcass the next day, less than 300 meters behind the camp and surrounded by six lions feasting! Incredible!!!

The learning experience. It’s amazing how mother nature can provide us with invaluable gifts and benefits! For instance, did you know that there are hundreds of trees out there with incredible uses? While some have juicy fruits such as the Marula tree, others can be used as fire beaters or mosquito repellent (like the Magic Guarri).

Walks and tracking through the bush. A true detective’s work! Analyzing dung, identifying animal tracks on pathways, following them into the thickets, looking for the slightest signs that might unveil them to us… both exciting and scary at the same time!

Elementary, my dear Watson!

We’ve had amazing sightings, like the privilege to spot a leopard with a freshly killed impala up in a tree (we followed its spoor for hours along the Zebanene river).

One day we also came across buffalo remains on a morning walk. When we returned later in the afternoon, a huge male lion was finishing its supper (can’t believe we were actually there only a few hours back and couldn’t see any sign of its presence; it gives me goose bumps just thinking about it).

Finally, I recall the rhino tracking that lasted almost three weeks with no results. Interestingly enough, we ended up seeing it on an afternoon game drive when least expected! While we were busy watching a pride of lazy lions, the lone male suddenly pitched up from behind our jeep and chased the poor lions away! Astonishing sight!

Sleeping in the bush. An incredible feeling spending the night outside with no tent whatsoever: only a sleeping bag, a bright fire and two vigilant guards sweeping the spotlight into the darkness to “intimidate” unwanted visitors! Mind blowing, and one of the best stargazing spots ever!

All in all, it was absolutely FAN TA STIC! Totally worth it if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary! I also truly recommend our guide Rob (if he’s still around), an amazing guy with the most genuine knowledge of the bush! He’s a living encyclopedia and a true gentleman!

The man himself!

For more info on Ecotraining simply visit their website.

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One Response to Ecotraining: the ultimate way to learn about the African bush

  1. Jay February 17, 2009 at 5:27 pm #

    Such a rich source of information! I will be back for more… 🙂

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