Field Guide Level 1 Africa – Katharina
As part of our feedback interview, Katharina reveals more about her incomparable time as a Field Guide Level 1 student in the wild nature of South Africa and Botswana. Learn more
Project: Field Guide Level 1 course in South Africa and Botswana
Locations: Pridelands/South Africa, Karongwe/South Africa and Mashatu/Botswana
Duration: End of February until mid-April 2019 – 55 days
Support from the Natucate team:
Field Guide Level 1 course in Africa – Feedback: Eight questions for Katharina
1) Could you give us a brief overview of your activities in the course?
The Field Guide Level 1 course is a 55-day course in the middle of the African bush which teaches you basic knowledge about African nature such as animal behaviour, bushes and trees, grasses, geology as well as astronomy and weather. In addition to that, there is the practical guiding of guests in safari vehicles through the natural habitat. The course concludes with a theoretical and a practical exam.
2) What was the biggest challenge for you during the course?
My biggest challenge: After so many years of not ‘learning’, I had to go back to school and ‘learn how to learn’. But it wasn't that hard in the end.
3) Was there something you liked most? Or something you remember particularly negatively?
I loved to be completely in the wild and open nature – far away from any distractions like television, internet (there was internet, though – but only limited. It was enough to contact family and friends at home) or other consumption goods. It was also wonderful to discover new things every day.
Due to illness or off-days within the instructor team, there were often changes in the plans of the guides. This was a little annoying because it wasn't always coordinated.
4) Did you have certain expectations before travelling to the course?
I didn't actually have any expectations. I wanted to go out into nature and gain new experiences and learn more about us and our planet. Develop new connections and understanding. That worked wonderfully. But: To my mind, we did not stay long with the animals during the drives or walks in order to be able to understand them and their behaviour better.
5) Have you done anything in your free time that you can recommend to future participants?
We didn't have much free time. And, of course, we could not leave our camps. During our free time we either learned or practised camp sports such as volleyball.
6) What recommendations would you give to other participants?
- Pack a few books. Three good ones will do. (In any case, pack "Game Ranger in your Backpack"!)
- Leave as much clothes at home as you can. You will probably wear the same outfit each day, anyways. ;)
- Proper binoculars are essential. I had a focal length of 10x42. That's enough for a start.
- You don't have to bring a sleeping mat for sleepouts. Simple mats are provided. If you like it more comfortable you can bring an inflatable.
- If you have time, it's best to start learning the birdcalls at home. In the beginning there are more than 115 and it is not bad if you recognize a few in advance. Natucate is helping you to do this in advance.
- You will receive mp3 files with the various birdcalls and animal calls from your partner on site. I had a computer and MP3 player with me, which made the transfer easy. However, getting the calls to the mobile phones did not work.
7) Can you estimate how many additional costs you had on site?
Of course, it always depends on how much you spend additionally in the camps. I used to drink beer and coke once in a while. During the entire course I spent about 700 Rand. That's about 43 EUR. That was more or less about 100-150 Rand per week (10 EUR).
8) Here is still room for other suggestions or stories from you:
Natucate was there for me from the first contact until after the end of the journey. The recommenadtions in advance and the conversations we had were important and very good for the planning of the trip. It couldn't have been better. I am looking forward to my further travel planning together with Natucate. Next stop: the Trails Guide course in Africa.
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