Animal species that we will be observing include various ungulates such as; Wildebeest, Giraffe, Sable, Eland, Kudu, Nyala, Waterbuck, Impala, White Rhino, Plains Zebra, Cape Buffalo, Hippopotamus, Elephant and others. Notable large to medium sized species on the Reserve include African Leopard, Caracal, Hyena, Baboons, Honey Badger, Civet, Jackal, White-tailed Mongoose, Bush Pig, Warthog and others. Smaller species include the Banded Mongoose, Marsh mongoose, Bush Baby, Genet and others. Avian raptor species include, Snake Eagle, Hawk Eagle, Fish Eagle, Crowned Eagle, Taita Falcon, African Goshawk, Rock Kestrel, Hooded Vulture and so many others. Other notable birds include, Hornbills, Hoope, Rollers, Sunbirds, Shrikes, Waxbills, Batis, Barbet, Puffback, Bee-eaters, and beyond! Monitor Lizards will be found resting in the sun and termite mounds will cover the land. Species accounts and listings for further research by participants leading up to the trip will be included by Field Guidance.
The primary content of this course involves what is called “trailing,” which is not only an ancient art but likely the oldest art known to mankind. It is comprised of following one individual animal’s footprints until that same animal is found. This is an art that is still used by select hunters and wilderness guides today and has a bright future in education and research in various scientific and educational sectors. Trailing animals employs ancient survival instincts that are often dormant in ordinary life. Tracking allows one to explore the daily routines, happenings and behaviors of that individual over the course of many hours and depending on how long the animal has been resting and how much ground you have covered, sometimes even days.
We will be taking turns within our group, helping each other to remain on a fresh trail of one individual animal until it is found. We will discuss all of the psychological and mental skills needed to improve this skill and break down what might be interpreted by the footprints on each trail. Course participants will be able to practice trailing on various African species throughout the two week course, moving over many miles through a vast array of African plant and animal communities found within this Game Reserve. We will also spend significant time learning to decipher the signs left by animals of all shapes and sizes in these African habitats, allowing us to unravel the story of what has been happening that day or week in the bush.
Birding is a big part of the program as well. A great diversity of birds will surround us at all times and photographic opportunities of all animal species during these sessions abound!
The program fee for this two week course also includes an optional but well worth it wildlife tracking test which will end with a certification through the internationally recognized organization known as Cybertracker. At the end of these innovative field exams, you will be given a score of level 1, 2, 3 or 4 depending on the number of accurate answers you have provided to questions asked in the field. Participants names will be posted on the Cyber-tracker website and the proper certificates will be handed out.
For those that might be a little intimidated by this level of immersion in wilderness, the program allows for significant down time to rest and relax. No session is mandatory and each group member will find their own personal flow that works for them as the week progresses. This program is designed to meet the personal interests and needs of each participant, so if you want to do more mellow birding instead of go tracking, such things can easily be arranged. You are always welcome to opt out of a tracking session to do more yoga, or take pictures within the designated walking areas, read, nap, call home, etc. Massages will be offered in the evenings for tired group members and optional yoga sessions to help focus and center group members will be held in the mornings. One free massage from deep tissue expert Lindsey Miller is included in the course fee and additional massages at a reduced price will be available upon request.
This program is mostly hosted not far from Kruger National Park on the large Moholoholo private game reserve. Within this 11,000 acre reserve, animal breeding, hunt guiding and various education programs for all ages are held year round. Moholoholo is a half hour drive from the town of Hoedspruit, which contains a hospital, pharmacies, supermarkets, banking facilities, restaurants and shopping. Comfortable and charming housing arrangements at the Reserve include traditional African round houses with grass thatched roofs that are well built and fully plumbed with showers, bathrooms, a fridge and comfortable beds. Weekly laundry and all necessary amenities will be offered by the Moholoholo staff.
2019 dates are August 5th - 19th
The minimum age requirement is 16 years of age if you are accompanied by a parent, and 18 if you are not. The program fee does not include the price of the plane ticket from the United States or other locations. Nearby activities such as spa trips, hot air balloon rides, visits to Kruger National Park, horse back riding, river rafting and much more are also not included in the program fee but can be arranged ahead of time or even once the course is underway. If long distance walking is an issue for older participants, more jeep driving and use can be arranged. Upon arrival, Wes Eagle Gibbs will meet you at the Johannesburg Airport and accompany you on a bus shuttle to the Moholoholo Game Reserve. Other ways of transport to the Moholoholo Game Reserve can also be arranged.