EcoTraining Trails Guide Course – dark clouds are gathering


EcoTraining Week 2 – Rainfall and Stress

The second week of our Trails Guide course at EcoTraining was marked by stress, bad mood and partly heavy rainfall. We started this course totally unprepared and already at the beginning of the second week some thunderstorms were unleashed. In form of heavy rainfall and also in interpersonal form.

The thunderstorms that brought rain were too violent. They brought too much water in a short time, but at least they brought the long-awaited water to nature. An example for estimation: the river in Mashatu normally carries water from river bank to river bank at this time of the year. At the moment, except for a few small puddles, it is completely dry.

To experience Africa on foot is all we want

The interpersonal thunderstorms had many reasons, which we do not want to explain in detail here. However, it surprised us how unprofessionally EcoTraining deals with its customers. The company, which calls itself a ‘pioneer and leader’ in the training of field guides, places surprisingly little value on functioning equipment. The three Land Cruisers in camp were in deplorable condition.

All gave the impression of being 40 years old and approaching the 1 million kilometer mark on their last days. In fact, we could read a mileage of 70,000 km, for example. These cars were simply not maintained. As a result, we had very limited mobility. Of course, this course is about walking, but the car plays an important role in getting us to other areas that we can explore on foot. In this way, the radius is significantly increased. The walks do not always have to take place in the same area.

Stress, discussions and exhaustion

What was worse, however, was that things had already gone wrong in other camps in November. The effects of which were now to become apparent. The group had to do things that should have been done long before.

Time that was actually planned for walking was planned elsewhere. To end up with the same amount of time for bush walks, the walks in the morning became longer and the ones in the afternoon started earlier. This meant a significantly higher load for the organism with reduced regeneration time at the same time.

Suddenly, it was no longer about having fun, but often about ‘persevering’ – camp life changed noticeably. When suddenly a delegation of the management of EcoTraining appeared in camp, we experienced a special lesson.

According to our impression, the management has no idea what is going on in the camps. Regarding past situations and problems, third parties were always blamed and excuses were found. Only when facts were on the table and the situation was proven crystal clear by the students, the management relent and for a moment.

It seemed they were willing to take some responsibility. At the end of the meeting, promises were personally made by the General Manager about immediate changes that could be charitably classified as ‘in part’ being met by the time our course ended. What had we gotten ourselves into?

The animal experiences remain intense

The bush walks were still an incredibly intense experience. It is an exceptional feeling when you pass a herd of zebras, and they don’t notice you. You take the wind into account and walk quietly enough not to be noticed. When a family of warthogs stands across from you at a proper distance and both groups look at each other motionless for several minutes.

There was that elephant cow with the much too short trunk. She was not a victim of a snare – the trunk is complete and simply very short. In the photo, she looks like a piggy, doesn’t she? The silhouette picture shows one of the special sightings you can have on foot. If you know it’s a leopard, it’s easy, isn’t it?

When we are out there, we are thrilled and the sightings and interactions with the game give us a sense of integration. We fervently hoped that the rest of the situation would somehow relax, and we could return to the feeling of life we had the first week.

To be continued…