Alex Bigwood has travelled the world…through times of peace, in conflict zones, and in survival situations on multiple continents. The highly-trained expedition leader and instructor based in Nova Scotia, Canada is the founder of Ukaliq Wilderness, a Canadian company that takes clients into extreme wilds across the globe on professional courses designed to teach them skills such as first aid, safe travel and operation in a hostile or dangerous environment.
Ukaliq (Oookalick) means “arctic hare” in Inuktitut, which is the language of the Inuit People of Canada. Ukaliq’s mandate is firmly rooted in experience and the profound knowledge of its guides such as Alex. The courses are personalized and educational, on location while maintaining the utmost respect for the land, the animals, people, and flora in host regions. The goals for guides always include minimizing their footprint on the earth’s surface, and respecting animal habitats to their fullest ability.
Ukaliq Wilderness instructors are highly-trained outdoor professionals who are certified as wilderness guides and/or Instructors through various certifying agencies in North America, Europe, and Africa. A high level of fitness, stamina, mental strength and determination. Guides are held to the highest standards, where safety is paramount—in environments that at times can be extremely hazardous, and help could be days away.
PANAMA JUNGLE SPECIALIZATION COURSE 2017
May 21, 2017: The Ukaliq team is leading its jungle specialization field course in Panama. Alex tells us that the jungle specialization is designed for wilderness guides and enthusiasts wishing to operate in the jungle, seeking certification, or wishing to learn more about the jungle and how to safely operate in an extreme environment for personal interests, or in preparation of a backpacking trip.
According to Alex, Panama is an immensely beautiful and exciting travel destination. Working closely with Panamanian tourism, 2017 marks the second expedition of the Ukaliq jungle specialization course. This year’s course takes students into the jungle to teach them hands-on skills, procedures and knowledge through field instruction over a 10-day period. Candidates will experience complete jungle immersion, with nine nights spent in the wild.
What is a typical day in the Panamanian jungle specialization course?
Several hours a day of continuous strenuous physical activity in a tough off-trail jungle environment. Travel involves substantial elevation gains and elevation losses, major temperature variations, wet and humid conditions, and precarious ground travel on scree, boulders, roots, and fallen trees. Along the way, students will be met with challenging obstacle and river crossings, side-hilling, as well as heavy bushwhacking and mud.
On successful completion of the course, students will have acquired the specialized knowledge with respect to jungle travel, preparation, emergency awareness, expeditionary leadership in the jungle, and will have lead a group over a 24-hour period. Students will also be certified through the Professional Association of Wilderness Guides and Instructors.
READ MORE about visiting Panama and the Ukaliq excursion in the Panamanian jungle
READ MORE ABOUT UKALIQ WILDERNESS
Alex Bigwood is an expedition leader and instructor, an entrepreneur, a veteran of the New Zealand Defence Force, a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, and a member of the Professional Association of Wilderness Guides and Instructors Canada. Photo by Stacey Newman.