Okavango Guiding School

Are you looking for a little more adventure than your average safari, wanting to learn life changing skills or gainer a deeper understanding of the African Bush? If any of these apply, a course at the Okavango Guiding School could be a holiday you will never forget.

What courses are offered at the Okavango Guiding School

The seven-day bush skills course is the most popular with International visitors providing a condensed taster of many of the skills required for guiding and is very practical. However, there is also the longer Nature Guide Course which covers the entire syllabus and practical evaluation to qualify as a guide in Botswana and South Africa. The Trails Guide Course teaches skills needed for walking guides in the bush and therefore has a strong emphasis on walking, tracking, survival and weapons handling.

What does a typical day look like

All students take it in turn to carry out the camp wake-up call where a polite good morning is accompanied with hot water for an early morning freshen-up. Breakfast is communal and the itinerary for the day ahead is discussed. There is normally a mixture of class room activity such as learning about species and how to identify them by tracks and call sign’s and practical activities in and around the camp such as learning to drive a 4×4 vehicle, poll a mokoro, walk safely in the bush or approach potentially dangerous animals on foot. No one day is ever the same and activities will often be dictated by what wildlife is roaming around the camp. There is also usually one night where the group will camp out in the bush and cook supper over an open fire

What Flora and Fauna am I likely to see

Kwapa, where the school is based has a combination of river channel’s, floodplains, lagoons as well as riparian woodland, savannah, mopane scrub, climax mopane woodland and grasslands. There are good numbers of elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, kudu, impala, reedbuck and other herbivores. A trip to the Guide School must not be confused with a safari, participants are there to study and learn, rather than watch animals from a vehicle, however most students enjoy some great sightings.

What can I expect from the accommodation?

Accommodation is in wilderness tents furnished with camp beds made up with sheets, pillows and a duvet. All tents are en-suite with a plumbed in toilet and a bucket shower. There is also an exterior veranda with a chair conveniently positioned for reading or having a quiet beer whilst listening to the surrounding wildlife. Accommodation can be single or twin.

How is the food

Breakfast is simple with hot porridge, toast, cereals and fruit. Lunch will consist of healthy salads with cheese, ham and baked bread. Dinner is a delicious hearty meal, often reflecting local Africa cuisine with plenty of vegetables. There are vegan and vegetarian options available.

Tell me a little about the students

The school appeals to curious and active people with a passion for nature and a desire to gain a deeper insight into the fascinating local ecology and ancient skills many cultures have long forgotten. Some sign up as part of a gap year or a well needed break away from the monotony of the office or many just crave simply more adventurous safari holiday.

Will there be phone or internet reception

No, you will be off the grid.

What qualifications will I receive

Whilst all students receive a certificate from the Bush Skills course, there is no formal qualification attached. However the longer Nature Guide and Trails Guide courses there are formal qualifications that count towards a career in guiding.

What’s included in the price

The Bush Skills Course starts from US$2,021 and the Nature Guide and Trails Guide Courses start from US$3,416. These include accommodation, food and soft drinks, transfers from Maun and all activities. Alcohol can be purchased at the camp or guests can bring their own.


For more information or to book a place on the Okavango Guiding School Bush Skills Course call Wildfoot Travel now on 0800 195 3385
or enquire online at www.wildfoottravel.com/enquire

Travel Photographer Of The Year Travel Photographer Of The Year

In 2003 when photographer Chris Coe and his wife and business partner Karen decided to set up a travel photography competition they could not have predicted that within just a few years Travel Photographer of the Year (or TPOTY as it is often referred to) would become one of the most prestigious photography awards in the world.

Today TPOTY receives tens of thousands of images each year from photographers in more than 140 countries, all drawn to take the TPOTY challenge by the combination of fantastic prizes, diverse category themes and the satisfaction and kudos that comes from doing well in the awards. Because Travel Photographer of the Year is something of a phenomenon – each year the winning images are showcased on press websites and in print media around the world; a fantastic opportunity for any photographer.

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In addition to the media exposure there are the exhibitions – in 2018 along TPOTY exhibitions in London,the World Heritage Site in Sintra, Portugaland in Dubai and Sharjah were viewed by some two million people. Over the years images from the awards have been exhibited in locations as diverse as Lacock Abbey near Bath, the London Eye and the China Millenium Monument in Beijing.

TPOTY is not easy to win. The international judging panel, which this year includes include double Pulitzer Prize-winner Essdras M Suarez and Lawrence Jackson, a former official White House photographer under the Obama Administration, is very hard to please and there are three rounds of judging. From the very beginning, this insistence on judging credibility and standards marked Travel Photographer of the Year out from the crowd. If the finalists in a category aren’t strong enough, there won’t be a winner, it’s that simple.

The winning images each year are glorious – a fabulous collection of contemporary travel photography that inspires people to want to travel, and to take their camera with them! Travel Photographer of the Year makes a selection of these images available in books and as cards and prints, with the photographers receiving royalties for their card and print sales.

The awards are open to everyone, young or old, amateur or professional, and from every country in the world. There are special categories for photographers aged 18 and under and even a category for images shot on mobile phones or tablets. To date the youngest entrant is a five-year-old, the oldest was aged 88. Entries are submitted online viawww.tpoty.comor as prints. The 2019 awards are now open for entry, and WILDFOOT Travel is a sponsor.

Travel Photographer of the Year 2019 has a wide range of category themes and awards, reflecting the great diversity of travel photography. WILDFOOT Travel is the sponsor of the‘Oceans, Seas, Rivers, Lakes’single image category. This category challenges entrants to show water as it appears in nature. They can include the creatures who live on or in that water, or the people who make a living or take pleasure from it.

The winner will go on an eight-day Northern Lights & Whale Expedition by Sailing Ship with WILDFOOT Travel. They will sail aboard a beautiful traditional two-mast schooner in search of Norway’s abundance of marine wildlife on a wonderful journey will take them around the spectacular fjords of northern Norway on a whale safari that visits such exceptionally scenic areas as Senja, Andfjorden and Sommarøy.

TPOTY co-founder Chris Coe is a hugely experienced professional travel photographer, writer and photographic tutor, who has shot over 40 travel, photography and coffee table books. He has led photographic tours in the UK and internationally, including South Africa, Ireland, Morocco and Svalbard.
Please contact the WILDFOOT Team on [email protected] for further information, availability and reservations.

WILDFOOT are the Photo Travel Sponsors of TPOTY. We will be arranging future Photographic Small Group trips to Namibia and Spitsbergen in 2020, expertly lead by Chris Coe. If you are interested in participating, please register your interest with Simon at WILDFOOT Travel ([email protected] ) and he will keep you in the loop.”

If you’d like to enter for 2019 you can do so on the TPOTY Website here

Galapagos Beach The holiday of a lifetime courtesy of Wildfoot


Rose Krzyz took a trip with us to The Galapagos recently. Here she describe her experience first hand, along with some impressive holiday snaps.

It was a chance encounter with Simon at the Photography exhibition at the NEC that started our journey towards our holiday of a lifetime.  It took a long time planning but two years later with all our paperwork in place a few days before we due to leave, we set of from Sheffield to Manchester airport on a snowy night with Winnats, Snake and Woodhead closed. Things were bound to get better we told ourselves.

Wildfoot had advised us on how to ensure the holiday to the Galapagos met our expectations.  We were a party of four with different areas of interest, yet with Wildfoot’s help the holiday catered for all our needs and desires. In fact at the end of the holiday we all agreed that we had just had three holidays in one; Quito being shown around by Louis for Andando for four days, Galapagos on the Yolita 11 for eight days and Bellavista in the cloud forest for another four days.

A bit of advice for those considering this trip.

  1. Ignore the weather forecasts. Pack layers for all eventuality excluding snow! And pack a poncho for the Cloud Forest, a raincoat is not enough!  On a positive note our experience was that the weather was never as bad as predicted by the weather forecast.
  2. By all means read the forums about crime in Quito, but do not let them ruin your enjoyment of this beautiful city. Take the same precautions you would take in any big city.  We went around with guides in the day time to make sure we got to see all the sights in the little time we had at our disposal, but in the evenings walked from the Hilton to the Plaza Foch and back again as a group of four with no trouble.
  3. Make sure you are fit enough for the small boat cruise. The first day on the Yolita the itinerary consisted of two snorkels and two walks.  You can of course opt out of any activity, but you would be missing out a lot. Snorkels generally last one hour but the rib follows you closely and you are free to climb abroad whenever you want to. Walks were also about one hour long and the terrain varied.  Every evening we would have a briefing to let us know what was involved.
  4. Getting on and off the boat onto the islands can be a challenge, but our group of late sixty year olds managed it well with only one slip up!

And the memorable bits of this amazing holiday:

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The holiday was so well put together by Wildfoot, that, in spite of the fact that we were dealing with at least three different providers, (Andando, Yolita 11, and Bellavista), one part of the holiday merged seamlessly into the next.  The guides picked us up from the hotel on time and delivered us back there at the end of the activity.  On our last day, we were transported from the Bellavista Lodge back to the airport. The Bella vista package included a day tour to see the famous Cock on the Rock at the Paz de la Aves Reserve. None ofour group would classify ourselves as twitchers, but the sight of these rare birds making an appearance at the appointed time to attract a mate will remain with us forever.

Thank you Simon, Sharon, Joel and Gillian for looking after the boring preparations for our holiday and checking that everything was in place, so that we could relax and enjoy the holiday of a lifetime.

Rose Krzyz    (19 March 2019)

Walking Poles Reviewed Leki Corklite Trekking Poles

Dave Cheetham Wildfoot TravelEvery month Wildfoot Travel’s Dave Cheetham reviews a piece of travel gear. From walking boots to talking books, the gear may vary, but the honest and forthright option remains. This month Dave reviews a pair of lightweight trekking poles.

Leki Walking Pole
There are many good reasons to invest in walking poles. Apart from improving balance, stability and traction, the major benefit they offer is reduced wear and tear on your knees, back and hips. On a long walk or a holiday, where you find yourself walking day after day, they are absolutely invaluable.
Leki have been making walking poles since their very beginning. As the company that launched the very first pair of walking poles many years ago, they can rightfully claim to know what they are talking about. Today, they are still one of the market leaders and have a well recognised eco-friendly ethos, so they were the obvious choice for me.
I recently invested in a pair of Anti-Shock Leki Corklite walking poles at a cost of £45.00 and set off to put them to the test.
These poles are lightweight and very well constructed. They are easy to adjust in two places using an external clip which is neat and more compact than most of the other poles I looked at. The poles also have an internal anti-shock mechanism which helps to reduce the impact from walking on hard ground. The ergonomic grips are really comfortable and the straps have a very neat adjustment system that allows you to re-size them if you are wearing thicker gloves – or no gloves at all.
In summary, these poles are light, but not all flimsy. They feel very durable indeed and as well as being comfortable to hold and offer excellent adjustability.

The ideal poles to carry on a walking safari

When to visit the Galapagos What is the best time of year to visit The Galapagos?
Green Sea Turtle Meet The Galapagos’ Professor Reptile

alejandro_arteagaAlejandro Arteaga is an Ecuadorian-Venezuelan biologist and wildlife photographer. He is the scientific director of Tropical Herping, an institution he co-founded in 2009 to preserve tropical reptiles and amphibians through tourism, photography, education and research.

Alejandro was kind enough to answer a few questions about turtles and the Galapagos for us. Here are his words of wisdom.

  1. What makes The Galapagos so appealing to turtles?

    The Galapagos Islands have been a heaven for at least five species of marine turtles and 14 tortoises for millions of years. Green Sea-Turtles and Hawksbills nest and reside in Galapagos waters year-round. They do so probably because their nests face fewer predators here than in the mainland. To Giant Tortoises, Galapagos is a special place because, until the arrival of humans to the islands, they diversified and thrived in the absence of major predators (a special condition not met on the mainland).

  2.  What is the best time of year to see turtles in The Galapagos?

    In Galapagos, visitors may see giant tortoises in the wild throughout the year. However, during the dry season (Jun -Nov), tortoises congregate in greater numbers in the highlands, which improve’s visitors chances to see them. Sea turtles of two different species (Hawksbill and Green Sea-Turtles) may be seen in Galapagos waters throughout the year, but they are easier to see during nesting season, which coincides with the rainy season (Dec – May) with a peak in Feb – Mar.

  3. Which species of turtles can be found in The Galapagos?

    There are 19 species. Here is a complete list with information

  4. What is the rarest species of turtle to be found in The Galapagos?

    Among giant tortoises, it is the Fernandina Giant-Tortoise. Only one living female is known to exist.
Among sea turtles, it is the Loggerhead. It has only be seen in Galápagos waters twice.

  5. What are the majors threats to the future of the world’s turtles?

    The major threats to giant tortoises are:
    A) Introduced predators (pigs, dogs, cats, and ants), which prey on the eggs and hatchlings;
    B) The  disturbance of migratory routes;
    C) The conversion of tortoise habitat to agriculture and pastureland.The major threats to sea turtles are

    A) Incidental mortality due to interactions with fisheries;
    B) degradation of marine and nesting habitats;
    C) climate change (read why in the conservation section here);
    D) introduced predators (pigs, dogs, cats, and ants), which prey on the eggs and hatchlings.

  1. What  can visitors to the Galapagos do to help the conservation of turtles?
    Support projects like the: Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative