March was a beautiful month spent in the Klaserie at Africa on Foot. We packed up and took our Trails guide students to Africa on Foot for one of those amazing experiences. Walking Elephants, White Rhinos, Buffalo and Lions in an area where you can expect the unexpected…

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During these 25 days we had an old friend of the school joining us. Jan has been with us now for a few years and every year he comes over for a new bush experience with us. He is a fully qualified level 1 guide with a back-up Trails guide qualification. Besides Jan we had Alex joining us for the experience. He is half South African and American and had some time left for a walking experience in the bush with us.The rest of the gang consisted of Aniska, Pieter, Clinton and Bryan. These students had just spent two months with us at Entabeni and were keen on doing a Trailsguide course in the Klaserie.

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We camped close to the Africa on Foot camp. It was enjoyable to be camping in the bush and still have some facilities nearby. The program consisted mostly of going out in the morning at 6 for a walk and come back at around 11. This way the students gained many hours and had the chance of walking into animals that they didn’t expect. Since Jan was already a qualified back-up he backed Diana up on the first walks. The first couple of walks were relatively quiet. They didn’t see anything dangerous, but did see some nice birds, flowers and some warthog and impala’s. We trailed Elephants and White Rhinos but unfortunately they sometimes got wings and flew away or they had gone into someone’s property.

After a few days we got lucky and started to walk into different Elephant herds and some Elephant bulls. The White Rhinos were also nice enough to show themselves to us. We even walked some lions from time to time, on one walk they growled at us and we had to back out. A good experience for the students and good for us to find out how the students would react in a tense situation. All of them were fine and there were no issues.

We trailed some buffalo bulls one day were we had wet mud dripping from the branches they had rubbed against. We trailed for almost 3 hours and had to give up since the signs became older and older. The buffalo were hoofing it and it was impossible to keep up…

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After the morning walks the students often did some dry handling with the rifle or some lectures for the Trails guide exam. Then before the afternoon walk or drive some of them had to wash and check the car. In the afternoon we often went out on drive to see some nice game. This group was very lucky with Wild dog, Leopard and Lion sightings. They saw the Wild dogs twice! Once while they were sleeping and once when they were awake and walking around and sniffing each other. Amazing creatures they are!

The leopard sightings were also of a good quality. The first sighting was of a male in the middle of the road in clear daylight. He moved and we tried to follow him, but he was too fast. The other sighting was of a female leopard in a tree with three lions feeding on her kill underneath the tree! Sometimes sightings are as good as they always show on the television.

Lions they saw mating, sleeping and feeding.

All in all not a bad sighting record! Not to speak of the huge White Rhino bulls they saw and the enormous Elephant bulls. Clinton was the lucky one to be on the tracker seat with an Elephant bull just a few meters in front of him. The bull was feeding and dust bathing. Clinton definitely got some dust on him! Or what about the very young Elephant calves still without tusks. Everyone has their own favourite memory!

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There were many good sightings for this group, but they also had to work hard to get their qualifications. Lee assessed them on their shooting. It was great to see that everyone passed without any great difficulties. It showed that these students put a lot of hours of dry handling in and were unbelievably focused during this assessment. Well done guys!

Later in the month Lee had to assess the students as back-up trail guides. They walked into Lions, White Rhino’s and Elephants on their assessments. The students were focused and helped to control the rest of the group during their walks. Bryan and Aniska were assessed whilst walking with real guests from Africa on Foot. Bryan was Matthews’ back-up while he was being assessed as lead guide. Matthew and Bryan both did well and the guests enjoyed their White Rhino experience.

At the end of the course they all wrote their Trailsguide exam. Good luck guys!

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The stay at Africa on Foot was amazing and everybody at Africa on Foot was very helpful and friendly. Thank you so much to Africa on Foot for making this experience as amazing as it was.

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A thank you to Alex for the use of his photographs.