Tracking & Trailing South Africa

June 1 thru 15, 2019

Photo: Dani Novak with mentoring from Lee Gutteridge

Photo: Lee Gutteridge

Once you set foot on South African soil, you realize you are home. The wildlife which roam the bush, open grasslands, river valleys, stir your soul in a primeval way. This two-week journey takes you through alternating ecotones, rendering opportunities to track & trail a great variety of wildlife.

We'll be in the bush for two weeks of tracking, trailing, and wildlife viewing. Receive expert leadership and mentoring from Daniel Hansche of Spur Wander, and our guides Kersey Lawrence and Lee Gutteridge, both Senior Trackers & Evaluators on the CyberTracker system. The team's constant engagement with the wild provides more tracking, behaviour and ecological awareness than one can imagine.  Scores of mammals, birds and invertebrates will be covered with depth. In addition to wildlife tracking & trailing, our foci will cover bird language, ethnobotany, paleo-history of humans and primates, and local culture. 

Ox peckers, some of the most informative African bird species. Photo: Kersey Lawrence

We invite you to take a ride on the "tracker's seat." Photo: Lee Gutteridge

The Trip

This is a specially designed program focused on trailing and safely viewing Africa’s big game on foot, with wonderful tracking as well as vehicle-based game viewing.

We will be based primarily in the north-eastern region of South Africa, where many vast ecosystems are set aside for wildlife, and conservation efforts run strong, helping to preserve animals such as lion, elephant, the long-suffering rhinoceros, and even the small and scaly pangolin. 

All the areas we will utilize for our program (of which you will experience several) have different strengths, such as wonderful substrate for tracking on the banks of the Kruger Park’s Olifants River, abundant game viewing in the Manyeleti, and many more stunningly beautiful landscapes of the Lowveld. 

Animals such as lion, elephant, zebra, giraffe, kudu and impala make up a tiny portion of this ecosystem, with more than 50 mammal species, over 400 bird species, interesting insects, varied plant life and stunning landscapes, complimented by the most amazing night skies you may ever see. 

Tracking here is second to none, with many species leaving their sign in the fine dust of Africa’s trails, as they have for millennia. Thousands of animals live and move in the dry savannah bushveld, and will amaze you by their sheer diversity and unfathomable volume.

DSC_0164.JPG

Why the quality of your guide matters

In the photograph above Lee can be seen dissuading an African Elephant bull from harassing a student tracker group behind him. The cloud of dust is from the huge feet of the elephant sliding to a halt in front of him. Of course, many people ask us about this image, and it has turned out to be useful in explaining why it is important to work with the right guides, when tracking Africa’s Big Game. During this moment Kersey was managing the group right behind him, also armed in this instance, and assisting with their protection and control. It is important to understand, that in this instance, because of their years of experience, that Lee and Kersey correctly interpreted the body language of the elephant, and made a snap decision to use a confrontational technique, which is tried and tested, to diffuse the potentially dangerous aspect of this huge animal’s approach. The wide-open ears, high headed posture, bouncing motion of the animal and the fact that it broke its approach with a thin line of vegetation between itself and the walking group all showed an uncertainty to attack (to the trained eye), which allowed a non-violent option to protect the group. Only years of experience will give you this possibility. The picture was taken by one of our student trackers, and it is very rare in these instances to get an image, as these situations are as much as possible, avoided, and usually very sudden if they occur. The last thing we usually think to do is take pictures! (It is important to note that in over 25 years of tracking potentially dangerous animals we have never had to use our rifles in self-defence. Our goal is to continue with this record)! However, it’s important to note, that animals in Africa present us with the very real possibility of close encounters. 

216A1898.JPG

a superior experience

Our TWO Senior Tracker hosts will be with you every step of the way. They will dedicate all of their effort and expertise to making this an unforgettable experience for you in terms of learning, enjoyment, and value. 

Our accommodations are rustic but ample, and more importantly it is in VERY close contact with nature. You will be in tents for almost the entire course, with ALL of the Southern African big game roaming mere feet from your bed -we literally have lions and elephants patrol past our camps! 

Our meals are of an excellent quality, we don’t just keep you alive! We will ensure that we have well catered meals. With this experience you will need the energy!

We will bring in specialist guests to supplement our teaching, focussing on various aspects of tracking, ethnobotany, cultural history and many other aspects.

These aspects of the course combine to make this a truly unique program, not offered by anyone else in Southern Africa.

We will spend our days doing a combination of different activities, all designed to enhance your understanding of the iconic African fauna, from the micro to the mega. These activities include but are not limited to:

  • Track & sign interpretation sessions

  • Following animal trails with Lee, Kersey and Dan

  • Ethnobotanical and plant identification

  • Human history discussions, presentations and field practical experiences

  • Safari game drives to view behaviors and photograph animals up close and personal

  • Presentations on animal identification and behaviour to enhance your tracking

    Nature Guide Training and Original Wisdom have been conducting programs such as this for over fifteen years, and have earned a reputation as industry leaders. Thousands of students have passed through these schools, and experienced South Africa like never before. 

 

More about Our Guides

We are expert trackers and guides, and in-fact, trainers of professional trackers and guides in 8 African countries, living the dream of broadening our educational reach and passion to trackers and naturalists with our region’s offerings. For 15 years we have provided excellent study abroad programs for many colleges, universities, high schools and wilderness schools from around the world deep within Africa’s wild places.

Lee Gutteridge has spent his entire adult life in the African bush. As a respected nature guide trainer, senior tracker and wildlife author he will intrigue you and inspire with passionate tales of African animals, close escapes and wildlife trails. Lee owns Nature Guide Training, a facility designed to educate South African field guides. He is also one of only 10 FGASA Scout Guides on the FGASA system. An accomplished author, Lee has written some of the most respected tracking resources for southern Africa including Bushveld, Okavango, Mammals of Southern Africa and their Tracks and Signs, and most recently, Invertebrates of Southern Africa and their Tracks & Signs.

Kersey Lawrence Kersey Lawrence is a highly qualified tracker, in fact, as a senior tracker, is the highest qualified woman tracker in the world today. She is completing her doctorate through the University of Connecticut and also owns Original Wisdom, a naturalist education and tracking company offering both local programs in the USA and study abroad programs in Southern Africa. Her passionate approach to interpreting tracks and signs in nature and following trails will amaze and inspire you, as you spend time with her in the Africa she now calls home. 

 

Payment

***BRING A BUDDY, GET A $500 CREDIT! Sign up as a couple, or get a friend to register and you'll receive a $500 credit.***

The trip cost is $4,750, airfare not included. A $500 non-refundable deposit is required for registration. Your balance of $4,250 must be paid by January 1, 2019. Check, Bank Transfer, and Credit Card payments are accepted. Please note that credit card payments will incur an additional fee of $250.