Antelope Park, our first destination
I feel the need to share my experience by starting off with something that Andrew Conolly, the man behind all this magic, told us. He was explaining the history behind the establishment of Antelope Park when he told us that you can’t understand Zimbabwe, let alone Africa, until you experience it for yourself. Those words have stuck with me… trying to put a sunset or wildlife encounter into words is next to impossible.
Antelope Park is a unique destination set in over 3000 acres of open savannah grasslands in Gweru, Zimbabwe. It is home to the first two weeks of the Pathfinders course and allowed for a great introduction to our eight week adventure through Bubiana Conservancy, Matopos National Park, Hwange National Park and last but not least, Victoria Falls. Each different biome plays a vital role and helps us understand how the wild functions.
“Over the past 10 years, Antelope Park has contributed over $2 million to community and wildlife conservation programs, focusing specifically on the African Lion”
Each day at Antelope Park was vastly different and you cannot compare them. One day you’ll be soaking up the calls of an African Hoopoe and the next day you’ll be tracking a herd of Wildebeest on foot. Pathfinders offer you the chance to gain your FGASA NQF2 qualification by gaining as much practical experience as possible. Not only has the transition from city to bush been easy but we’ve been able to fully immerse ourselves in Africa because of this prime location. Our guide Daniel Peel has been a fountain of knowledge. We fed off of his excitement and love for the African bush. Without him as our guide in the bush and in the classroom, this journey wouldn’t be half as achievable.
One thing to note is that this course requires focus, a passion for the environment and the animals within it. Even though your day begins at 5 am, the Zambezi beer at the end is beyond rewarding. Between the alarm clock and sundowners you could find yourself birding, tracking, holding a python or on a horse safari.. the activities are endless. Circling a simple day as a Pathfinder. It also caters to those who don’t necessarily want to become a field guide at the end of this. If you’re looking for a break from the rush of a city or want to spend your gap year in Africa, I couldn’t recommend a better place to spend your time.
The best advice I can offer is to soak up everything that this Pathfinders course has to offer, as well as every moment above and beyond that. It’s only been two weeks and it’s already been the adventure of a lifetime. I’ll never forget the friends I’ve made or the sunsets I’ve watched. I will always treasure and be forever grateful for this experience!
Georgina – South Africa
NB: Please note that since the October Field Guide Course we have adjusted the amount of time spent at each course location, with majority of the time now focused around Hwange National Park, Bubiana Conservancy and Victoria Falls