Hungarian medical student Sophia recently qualified as a Field Guide with EcoTraining during a two-month break from her university studies. She decided to spend her school vacation taking the course after reading the book Frühstück mit Elefanten (Breakfast with Elephants) by Geza Neitzel, who completed EcoTraining’s one-year Professional Field Guide course in 2015 and wrote the book based on her adventures during her time in Africa.
Sophia also had her own adventures and says the most memorable came about during a free day in Selati. “I tried to use that time to wash a few things, including my really dirty shoes! Two friends of mine were with me in the bathroom when we suddenly heard the voice of our instructor, calling us.
“We went outside and he told us that there were elephants just behind his tent and we should quietly follow him. He nearly ran in the bush and I followed him without shoes, but I didn’t feel any pain because I was so focused and full of adrenalin!
“We came to a rock and climbed on it and there was the whole herd on the other side, including one bull just a few steps away from us. When he realized that we were watching him, he slowly came closer and closer. My heart was beating so fast because there was just our instructor between the bull and us.
“The bull came so close that the instructor raised his stick up in the air and talked with a loud voice to the elephant. The elephant — in response to our instructor’s voice — walked away. This moment was so intense! I could see every eyelash, every wrinkle and every movement of this beautiful, big and majestic animal and I realized even more how beautiful the bush is.”
Sophia has since returned to complete her medical training in Hungary, but the video catches up with her at the beginning on her 55-day FGASA Field Guide Level A course.
EcoTraining is South Africa’s original guide training school, with the largest, most bio-diverse footprint in Africa and locations in six pristine wildlife reserves (including Kruger National Park) in four different countries.