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  • Wildlife Identification and Tracking

    New dates 2018

    Starting In April 2018

    Wildlife Identification & Tracking

    New Reviews available for this unique course

    More Info

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South African Wildlife & Tracking Safari

A Practical Naturalist Course

Course content

This is a unique chance to spend time in the spectacular Kruger National Park eco system watching and tracking wildlife and exploring other cultural, historical and etnobotanical aspects of the region. This tour is suitable for all levels of ability from beginner to expert and includes (should you want it) a chance to test your new found knowlege of African wildlife with a CyberTracker track and sign evaluation.

What's it all about...

We will spend our days doing a combination of different activities, all designed to enhance your understanding of the iconic African fauna, from the micro to the mega.  These activities include but are not limited to:

Track and sign interpretation sessions

Following animal trails with Lee and Kersey

Ethnobotanical studies and plant identification

Human history chats, presentations and practical field experiences

Safari game drives to view behaviours and photograph animals up close and personal

Presentations on animal identification, behaviour and tracks and signs to enhance your understanding of Southern African Tracking

CyberTracker Track and Sign Identification and Interpretation Evaluation

Lee and Kersey have been working together since 2008 designing and implementing these types of study, ecotourism and tracking intensive programs. Lee’s company, Nature Guide Training began over fifteen years ago as a trainer of field guides in Southern Africa and has earned a reputation an industry leader with graduates who are still employed by the finest lodges in Southern Africa. Kersey’s company, Original Wisdom, assists Nature Guide Training in branching out into the study abroad arena. Thousands of students have passed through their schools and experienced the country like never before.


Lee and Kersey invite you, in conjunction with expert tracker John Rhyder and Woodcraft School to join them on this African Experience…

Included in the cost of this program:

Safari experiences both on foot and by vehicle

Ground transportation to and from all reserved programme venues from the time you land at your designated pick-up point at O.R. Tambo International Airport until the time the group is designated to leave from the same airport.

Professional guiding services of Lee Gutteridge & Kersey Lawrence

Professional tracking instruction by Senior Trackers Lee Gutteridge & Kersey Lawrence

CyberTracker Track and Sign evaluation

Accommodation costs and activity fees on game reserves

Ground transportation on game reserves

Gate fees

Community levies

Wholesome meals at all venues.

Basic beverages at all venues (water and flavoured drink mix, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate)

A regional field guide (book) written by Lee Gutteridge

Presentations on natural history, animal behavior, astronomy, ecology, etc.

Guest speakers as prearranged for your programme

Not included in the cost of this programme:

All Flights

Visas, passports, and other travel documents

Beverages such as beer, wine (for those over 18 years old), sodas, fruit juices, milkshakes, etc. (for those under 18)

Souvenirs (curios)

Gratuities for guides, trackers, drivers and reserve staff

Personal effects such as snacks, batteries, toiletries, camera chargers, electrical adapters, and other supplies

Travel insurance

Personal medications and medical insurance while in SA

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The programme 

Day 1 – 10 August

We meet and collect participants from O.R. Tambo airport in Johannesburg (please ensure an early morning landing by all at JNB, if necessary we can advise participants on where to stay the night before if they need to fly in a day early)

Transfer to Lowveld via van (a good chance to catch up on some sleep, or to view the changing landscape from Gauteng, through Mpumalanga, and into the Limpopo Province of South Africa)

Lunch provided en route, including bottled water to drink

Shopping stop in Hoedspruit where you can purchase extra batteries, forgotten items, chocolates or other luxury items, cool drinks and any other beverages you will want for camp

Arrive at Ngala Camp in the afternoon and settle into your tents – all tents are large canvas dome tents with proper, thick mattresses (not camp pads). You will need to bring your own sleeping bag, and a pillow if you desire one. Expect to have a room-mate. There are flushing toilets available within a very short walk from each tent, and hot eco-showers. Your safety is enhanced by a 7-strand solar-powered electrical fence around camp. There is a generator in camp that we will use for charging camera batteries etc but you will need a South African adaptor for your plugs (available in most large airports). You will be provided with a recommended packing list.

Safety briefing, orientation, distribution of textbooks (Bushveld, by Lee Gutteridge)

Travel out by vehicle for welcome/sundowner drinks on a viewpoint where we can get the ‘big picture’ of where we are

A good wholesome dinner will be provided for you upon your return to camp.

After dinner we will gather around the campfire to enjoy the night sounds, which can be amazing to say the least. We may bring out UV-lights and search for scorpions, followed by a well-earned and necessary rest.

Day 2 – 11 August

Up before dawn for an early breakfast, before heading out on foot. Briefing on safety before we walk. We will focus on the area around the camp, ‘reading the morning newspaper’, understanding the tracks of ‘who’ came past the camp the night before, and interpreting what they were doing. This will take three or four hours. Lion, leopard, elephant and many other creatures walk by our camp each night, affording many opportunities to trail right from our doorstep, so we may even start our first trails this morning, sharing techniques and ideas, and impressing the importance of alertness and silence in the African context. We will become aware of ‘bird language’ which also includes the sounds and body postures of many of our mammal species and helps us to know when dangerous animals are nearby.

We will then return to a cooked brunch and then take a few minutes for our ablutions and maybe a short rest in a hammock or in our tents. The midday is always best for this as the mornings can be surprisingly cold and showering at that time can be tough!

Midday we will brave the heat in an open safari vehicle to do a game drive to orientate the group, show off some of the environment, search for animals coming down to drink. Elephants approach the river at this time from their feeding areas and occasionally old buffalo bulls will be seen wading in the river.

Game drives, or safaris as they are called in Africa, are always a wonderful opportunity to examine tracks and signs spontaneously and to observe animal behaviours. We will watch them making tracks and then to go look closely after the animal has departed; we also stop frequently to listen and to look for animal trails that are fresh enough to follow. Our focus changes often, depending on what opportunities present themselves.

This afternoon the focus of our safari will be for our tracker on the seat in front of the vehicle (it could be you!) to search for and find our next trailing opportunity: maybe a pride of lions, a herd of elephants, or a lone rhinoceros. Once we pick up on a suitable trail we will proceed on foot, tracking the animal until we find it and are able to view it from a safe distance or until the light begins to fade.

We will then continue for a while after dark in the vehicle, searching with a spotlight for nocturnal wildlife as we drive. After exploring for a while, we will head back to our camp and enjoy a home cooked meal and chat a little about the days trails, tracks and signs and debrief on our activities.

We will then enjoy the campfire and listen to the nocturnal sounds such as the whoops of hyenas, roars of lions and/or leopards and the cracking branches of elephants feeding nearby.

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Day 3 – 12 August

Up early for a game drive experience, stopping along the way to study and cast animal tracks. (We will have tubs of plaster for this purpose on the vehicle at all times). We will also take short walks away from the vehicle to view various tracking aspects, invertebrate sign and other interesting aspects which are hard to see from the vehicle.

At any point we could also find an animal trail we wish to follow, so the morning activity could change depending upon what nature gives us to work with.

Later in the morning we will return for brunch and a few minutes to refresh ourselves and possibly a short rest before the next activity.

During the midday we will try to follow up on any animals we have seen in the morning, maybe attempting an approach on foot as long as the situation is safe enough. If there is not an animal viewing opportunity we will still head out in the midday and see what we can find in terms of animals drinking at the river.

In the afternoon we will head out on foot focussing on invertebrates of the region and their importance in track and sign and the determination of the ages of other spoor. This walk will end around sunset and then we will settle in for a nice dinner.

In the evening there will be a discussion on the mammals of the reserve and their pertinent behaviours for interpretation in tracking.

Afterwards we will sit at the camp fire and enjoy the evening until we wish to rest. Amazing calls of night birds such as thick-knees, owls and nightjars are commonly heard amongst the sounds of the big animals.

 Day 4 – 13 August

This morning we will take a drive out to the north east of the reserve and walk/climb up a hill near an old iron age site. Here we will discuss some of the human activity of the area, focussing on the stone and iron ages in the region. Whilst we chat we will enjoy spectacular views of the river with hippo, crocodile, waterbuck and other animals drinking and feeding below. Then we will take a leisurely drive back to camp, via the northern hills of the reserve searching for wildlife and their tracks and signs.

We then return to camp for some brunch and take some time to clean ourselves up after a dusty morning.

Midday we will walk down to the river, for a discussion on the proto-hominid history of the sub region, with an interactive discussion which will broaden your understanding of the depth of the history of the humankind in Africa. Whilst we chat, animals will probably be coming down to drink along the rivers edge. Birds will be passing by on their up- and down-stream travels.

In the afternoon we will undertake a botanical walk, exploring the nooks and crannies in drainage lines and in between the rocks of soap stone and granite. Each niche holds different wonders, many of which have medicinal uses or practical purpose to the people who have lived here in the past. This will be part of our focus for the afternoon as well as listening on the sounds of nature, following trails and discussing the wholistic ecological aspect between rock, soil, plant and the fauna of the reserve.

Day 5 – 14 August

Today we will head out for an early morning game drive, focusing on finding interesting mammals and birds. Birdlife is prolific here, with several hundred species. We will enjoy listening to calls and enjoy the sounds and ‘bird language’ possibilities, explaining how this fits in with our role as naturalists and trackers in the environment. We will also search for trails to follow, giving yet more trackers the opportunity to follow an animal.

During the midday today, preparations are made for an overnight trail, sleeping out in the wilderness of the reserve. This walk, for two or three hours, will be informative and exciting with the chance of viewing wild animals on foot and will culminate in the arrival of our group at a specially chosen sleeping spot. We will take care of a few comforts, and ensure that there is good hot food. The team will be split into groups and allocated some hours of night watch, ensuring that we all take a turn to look out for rhinoceros, hyena, lion, leopard and other wild animals which may just be moving around. The sense of vulnerability whilst sleeping out can be quite intense and this is usually one of the most amazing experiences. If the night is clear we will discuss the stars of the southern skies and some of the African folklore associated with this beautiful sight.

Day 6 – 15 August

This morning we will awake at dawn to coffee and cookies, before undertaking our journey back to camp. We then take some time to wash and catch up on some rest.

After brunch we will head out on a track and sign interpretation walk, looking at the gaits, patterns and foot placement of some of the common animals around camp, adding to our increasingly deep understanding of the tracking experience in this semi-arid region.

Later in the afternoon we head to the river for a sit spot, enjoying an hour or two of solitude, listening to and watching the bird and animal life along the banks of the Olifants River before returning to our camp.

Supper will be in camp.

In the evening we will head out on an after-dinner night drive, searching for nocturnal species of birds and mammals which are unlikely to be seen by day. We may even be lucky and catch up with one of the many prides of lionesses which frequent our region!

Day 7 – 16 August

Today will be an intensive day of track and sign, with two or three serious sessions designed to test the tracker preparing for an assessment. The morning session will start at dawn and will be followed by brunch. We will do some short ‘speed tracking’ sessions, where limited time is given for answering the questions in order to build the trackers trust in one’s first answer…often a major downfall of trackers under evaluation conditions.

Midday will be a short, 1-hour mock evaluation followed by an intensive afternoon of questions and answers in the field.

Dinner will be in camp and a campfire session with perhaps a discussion on commonly confused tracks and signs of the region and then a good night’s rest planned for all!

 Day 8 – 17 August

This morning we will begin with a short drive away from the camp, to begin a track and sign identification session, searching for the wild animal spoor we may not yet have seen. This session of three or four hours will be the last opportunity before the assessment to ask questions of your assessors and instructors so it will be fairly intense. Obviously as we go we will view wildlife and try to listen for the sounds of the animals who live in this region.

We will return to camp for a lovely home prepared brunch.

In the afternoon there will be a game drive, with some track and sign opportunities and end off with a pleasant sundown drink in the hills above the camp.

Dinner will be in camp this evening.

Then back to camp for a study session in our lecture tent, for those who have some last-minute prepping to do.

Day 9 – 18 August

Today is your opportunity to gain a certification in South African Tracks and Signs!

It is our assessment day, with a CyberTracker evaluation on the subject of Tracks and Signs identification and interpretation. This is a full and intensive day, starting at sunrise and usually ending at around sunset. Meals will be taken at camp and in the evening a discussion on the results will take place, as well as the handing out of certificates.

Then a lovely meal around the campfire and a rest for the exhausted participants will be the order of the day!

Day 10 – 19 August

Today will be a full day of animal viewing. We will start with a wonderful morning of safari, with any opportunities to be on foot being taken especially if we find a good fresh trail. The morning will start with a small breakfast and we will try to be out around sunrise. There are always areas we do not get to see during a course and so this will be a chance to visit some of the less travelled areas and hopefully find a few new and interesting species of animals.

Brunch will be in camp and then we will take a little time for ablutions and a little rest. In the afternoon we head out again by vehicle, but before we leave we need to prepare not only for an afternoon game drive, but for a late-night experience, culminating in a special dinner at a secret location! We will need some warm clothing but this is typical on our South African winter programs…

Later in the evening we head back to our camp, spotting with our lights for the nocturnal animals which live here, after a wonderful dinner and evening outing, and head for camp and a good celebration around our campfire. This is our last evening together in the South African bush, and I am sure it will be the harbinger of many more African trips for our guests!

Day 11 – 20 August

Awaken early for a wholesome breakfast and pack up camp. 

Transfer to O.R. Tambo in Johannesburg with lunch provided en route, including bottled water to drink.

Course costs

The cost of the course is £2350 per person excluding flights.

Cut Off Date

The cut off date for this programme will be 1 May 2018 where we will confirm if we have enough numbers to make the trip viable. If we have filled the programme prior to this date we will of course inform you as early as we are able.

Please do not buy flights until we have fully informed you that the programme will go ahead.

Course Dates

South African Wildlife & Tracking Safari

 Please read the following information before booking:

Please note that by booking on to our courses you agree to our terms and conditions. Terms specifc to this tour are also outlined on this webpage

On this tour we try and accommodate most diets including gluten free and vegetarian. If you have severe allergies, a specific and complicated diet or are a strict vegan then there may be times we cannot accommodate your needs. Please contact the office prior to making any online booking if you fall into this latter category so we can discuss your options.

Aimed at 18 years and over although we do offer places to younger people at our discretion. Please enquire.

 

10-20 August 2018

Course: South Africa Tracking & Wildlife Safari

Training: 10-20 August 2018

Assessment:

Location: South Africa

Course Leader: Various

Course Size: 12 (maximum)

Cost Per Person: £2350 (Deposit £500)


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