Exploring the wilderness on foot amid lions, elephants and buffalos? You can learn that. I join a field guide course in South Africa for 2 weeks.
Only a few meters behind the Punda Maria Gate, an entrance to the Klrüger National Park, I meet a giraffe mother with her calves.
Bruce Lawson - Field Guide since 1992 with over 18,500 hours of logged wilderness experience - is among the most impressive people I have met in my life: "The wilderness, the nature have made me who I am today."
A short breather in front of a Baobab tree. The iconic trees store up to 100,000 litres of water. This is why they are often visited by elephants during the dry season. They scratch the bark with their tusks and pluck out the moist fibres underneath.
Nep and Bruce draw water from a hole in the Limpopo River. The water is harmless and can be drunk immediately.
The constantly photographing straggler of the group (Thanks to Temujin Johnson for the photo).
To protect against animal attacks, Lead Guide Bruce and Backup Guide Nep carry loaded rifles at all times.
During the Wilderness Skills Course a lot of knowledge is taught one cannot find in any textbook. Kim records the newly acquired insights in her notebook.
A member of an anti-poacher unit shows us one of many illegal loop traps they have collected today.
An elephant frightens this young zebra, which took a nap in the dense grass. It trudges over to us and looks at us lost. "It's looking for its herd," says Bruce, "the little one is just three or four months old." Slowly it trots on and disappears into the bushes. Good luck, little zebra.
Close to our second camp, Backup Guide Nep searches the wilderness for animals and discovers a herd of Cape buffalo.
On the way in the wilderness with photo luggage and equipment for 4 days (Thanks to Temujin Johnson for the photo).
Bruce demonstrates how to ignite fire with wood, elephant dung, skill and patience.
The night's camp of the second day. Each of us enjoys the campfire after 22 kilometers of marching.
Full moon campfire. We prepare our supper. You can see me on the photo (sitting in the middle). Many thanks to Temujin Johnson for the pic!
On the way to the shooting range Moholoholo. The distances are long in South Africa.
Bruce explains to Sophie, Martina and Kim where the brain is in different animals. In the event of an attack, the shooter has to hit it with his first shot.
The shooters have to build 'muscle memory', i.e. the cycle 'load rifle, aim, shoot' must become flesh and blood. This can be crucial for survival in dangerous situations.
It's a wonderful morning in the Selati Game Reserve: We go on another day hike through the wilderness, this time with Lead Guide Ross and Backup Christiaan.
Selati Game Reserve: A good field guide always has all his senses at work. Stephane smells rhino dung.
A look that no one in our group will ever forget: we are being assessed by a wild lion. Photo by Stephane Zemiro.
I enjoy fantastic views in the Blyde River Canyon.
Blyde River Canyon: Matibi, early in the morning. The temperature is 2 degrees Celsius.
Blyde River Canyon: Amidst the rainforest close to 'God's Window'.
A white-fronted Bee Eater
The landscape of the Blyde River Canyon.
The fire brigade burns down the knee-length grasses in the immediate vicinity of the road in a controlled manner so that they do not catch fire through carelessly discarded cigarette butts.