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A Passion for Nature

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better”
– Albert Einstein

In our annual nature training and field guide feature we are going to be taking a closer look at how their organisation was formed, what drives them to be a part of this industry, the different courses they offer and what sets them apart from their competitors. So if you are just about to leave school and are considering a career in field guiding or nature conservation or you feel trapped in your current career and are looking to make a change, then the next few pages will offer great insight...

Fifteen years of guiding, managing and training teams of guides in some of South Africa’s premier game reserve destinations, led Schalk and Candice Pretorius to establish Ulovane Environmental Training, adjacent to and operating in Amakhala Game Reserve, between Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape.

“This exceptional Malaria free location features interesting geological and paleontological history with a variety of fauna and flora, including the big-five, cheetah, brown hyena, caracal, serval and bat eared foxes,” says Schalk. “It was our dream to establish a training environment where our students would not just receive qualifications, but rather live the experience, sharing in our passion and so the Ulovane Campus was established. To match the dream we ensure a professional, exemplary and sensitive approach to the environment, the comfortable lodge-like accommodation was designed to be off the grid enabling us to practice what we preach,” comments Schalk. “Empowering students with a sound knowledge of nature, whilst stressing the importance of protecting the environment, not just for future generations but for our own survival is critical.


BOOK REVIEW - Field Guide to Larger Mammals


At least 1 200 mammals occur in Africa. Stuarts’ Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Africa concentrates on the more visible and easily distinguished larger species, as well as some of the more frequently seen smaller mammals.

This new edition has been extensively revised, expanded and redesigned and includes:

  • the most recent research and taxonomy
  • revised distribution maps and many new images
  • colour-coded grouping of orders
  • size icons
  • detailed descriptions of each species, offering insight into key
  • identification characters, typical behaviour, preferred habitat,
  • food choice, reproduction and longevity
  • a new section on whales and dolphins

Chris and Mathilde Stuart are the accomplished and respected authors of a range of books on African mammals, wildlife and conservation, as well as scientific papers and popular articles. Much of their time is spent travelling the world, searching for wild mammals and promoting their conservation.

ISBN: 978 1 77584 274 3| RRP: R 370.00

Berg & Bush - Trail Riders’ Dream

The Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush takes riders through some of the best scenery and along some of the most incredible trails in South Africa. Starting at Sterkfontein Dam, the Great Trek and Descent takes riders on a winding journey off the escarpment and into the bushveld. With a team dedicated to creating a fun experience on and off the bike, the Berg & Bush is the ideal mountain bike getaway.

If you’re looking for a special adventure on your mountain bike, then look no further than the Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush. The Descent, Great Trek and original 2 Day all take place in October this year, and once again the team has been working hard to prepare trails that increase thrills and limit spills. With an intimate knowledge of the surrounding area, race organiser Gary Green is constantly tweaking the bushveld bliss of his three-day stage race (and the 2 Day). This year, new developments include an upgraded Longdrop Pass down Spioenkop - built by Rob Dormehl of Garden Route Trail Park - and rejuvenated berms on the famous Bell Run. At present, there are also new single track routes being built and added to the event’s trail grail day two. This is a ride that truly is the Holy Trail of mountain biking. “Our aim is always to leave the riders smiling, says Green. “We’ve found that over the years, if you keep improving the trails, and making them more fun, then riders will leave happy and return happy. From the moment last year’s 2 Day event ended, we have been coming up with ideas and plans to improve every aspect of the Berg & Bush.”


Cape of Good Hope - Favourite Day Walks

Sixty kilometres south of the Cape Town lies a gem of a reserve, home to a rich floral kingdom and a series of spectacular hiking trails.

The Cape of Good Hope - or Cape Point, the most south-westerly point of the continent, while not being the actual southerly tip of Africa (that honour is bestowed on Cape Agulhas further east), is without a doubt the most dramatic. The 7 750-hectare reserve, which forms part of the Table Mountain National Park, tapers out into a thin rocky headland like the knobbly end of a lizard’s tail. Here, waves crash onto rocky cliffs, cormorants soar on the wind and an endless expanse of water extends to the horizon.

The site of many a shipwreck in the past, Cape Point is now a celebration of natural beauty. The breath-taking and magnificent scenery is best appreciated on a series of trails that wend their way through the reserve. Over the years, a few have become firm favourites.


Ithala Game Reserve a Hidden Gem

After having visited Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park on numerous occasions, we were delighted to finally have the opportunity to visit Ithala Game Reserve, situated in Northern KZN. We had heard so much about the park, and it definitely didn’t disappoint.

Situated approximately 470km from Johannesburg and 380km from Durban, close to the small town of Louwsburg in northern KZN, Ithala was proclaimed a game reserve in 1973. Originally only 8000 hectares the reserve has since grown in size to incorporate approximately 33 000 hectares. It is considered an important conservation area due to the variety of different habitats found there.

The dramatic changes in the topography of the land have created rugged and breathtaking scenery. Altitudes range from 400m above sea level to 1450m above sea level and around every corner a new, even more dramatic scene awaits. As you enter the reserve’s gate, your eyes feast on miles of open, yellow grassland which would provide the perfect camouflage for lions, if the reserve had any, which it doesn’t. The very fact that the lions are absent allows the rest of the animals in the reserve to live a more relaxed lifestyle.

That being said though, we felt that the animals we did encounter during our stay there seemed unusually skittish and not as relaxed as those in the other game parks we visit on a regular basis.

As we began to wind our way up to Ntshondwe Camp, the landscape became dramatically more rugged with exposed rock formations dating back millions of years being creating their own beauty. Towering sandstone cliffs, magnificent gorges, densely vegetated valleys, perennial rivers with cascading waterfalls and deep rock pools flanked by dense thicket and riverine forests provide the perfect habitat for a variety of animal species found in the reserve.


SA's Most Romantic Lodges

South Africa’s natural beauty forms a spectacular backdrop to the many amazing lodges scattered throughout the country. There are a few however that stand out from the rest in terms of offering the perfect setting for a romantic getaway. Whether they offer breath-taking views, have romantic outdoor baths and showers or offer guests the opportunity to sleep under the stars our list of four exclusive lodges are guaranteed to provide honeymooners or those just looking to rekindle the love in their relationships with the most idyllic, romantic setting they could ask for.

Kosi Forest Lodge

Kosi Forest Lodge is a comfortable five-hour drive north of Durban, just south of the Mozambique border. Thick sandy roads on the last 9km make it a necessity to have a 4x4 vehicle however if you don’t have a 4x4, don’t let that stop you from visiting this little piece of paradise as the lodge offers transfers from the nearby town of Manguzi where secure parking for your vehicle is provided...


In the news

Berg & Bush - Trail Riders’ Dream
The Grindrod Bank Berg & ...
August 31, 2017
Cape of Good Hope - Favourite Day Walks
Sixty kilometres south of the ...
August 31, 2017
Ithala Game Reserve a Hidden Gem
After having visited ...
August 31, 2017
SA's Most Romantic Lodges
South Africa’s natural ...
August 31, 2017

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