Are you dreaming of a career as a guide? However, you might have heard rumours about what makes an excellent guide and are still determining if this is for you. Here are our top 6 myths commonly heard; we look at some myths and truths about being a guide.
1. YOU HAVE TO BE EXPERIENCED TO BE AN EXCELLENT GUIDE
But, no. Although experience is vital in animal behaviour, understanding your guests and maintaining a safe experience does not mean that those with limited experience cannot be excellent guides or that they cannot have educated insights into a situation.
The other aspect to remember here is that guiding is a rather diverse field where one can be an expert in one area and still be a complete novice in another.
Playing to your strengths is important because we all have something we are good at, and there will undoubtedly be a place for your skillset as a guide. Just remember that you can always learn something new, even if you are the very definition of a bushperson.
2. YOU HAVE TO BE A PEOPLE PERSON TO RELATE TO YOUR GUESTS
Guest interaction is what being a guide is all about. Connecting with your guests to create a valuable experience and maintain their safety will assist. So it would only be natural for the more introvert prone to feel this may be the case, but it’s not.
Guiding is so subjective that even an introvert can host a fantastic experience in the bush. Guests can see their guide’s connection to the natural landscape, and they feed off that. As well as sharing these moments, they can create a strong relationship between the guide and their guests. This connection can truly create magical experiences no matter what the guiding style.
3. GUESTS ONLY WANT TO SEE THE BIG 5
There may be some truth to this. Guests love to see the big five and usually enjoy learning more about the Bushveld. Often it is up to the guide to bring out their guests’ natural curiosity.
One of the greatest lessons to learn when becoming a guide is the concept of linking, where the guide finds parts of the bush that connects to the animal in question—for example, showing guests the rub marks on a Marula tree. Explaining what the tree is and how elephants love their fruits links perfectly into the original mission of finding an elephant while still showing your guests something they may need to be aware of. By doing this, you can build up hype before seeing the animal or get the guests to see something new and unique that may be their focus for the remainder of the trip.
4. GUIDING IS ONLY FOR LOCALS
There is no easy way to put this, but locals tend to have an easier time getting employed as guides. A contributing factor could be the visa issues most foreigners have to work around.
Being a foreigner has immense benefits in the guiding world as it can be one of the most underrated skills that a guide can have. A guide that understands their guests knows their culture and is easy to connect with. Often a more relatable Guide tends to have a far more significant impact on their guests’ experience.
It is all about playing to your strengths, which means that not all excellent guides are local. It also means that by being a local guide, you can improve your guests’ experience by getting to know the cultures that are foreign to you.
5. GUIDING CAN BE LONELY
It is not often something we think about when becoming a guide, but the potential to feel slightly alone in an environment based around isolation can be a little concerning for some.
The other aspect to consider is the animals that you will connect with. Living in the bush can be one of the most incredible experiences of your life. The more time you spend in an area, the better you will get to know your animal counterparts, and in time you can form strong and meaningful connections with these amazing animals. The long and short of it is that when we find ourselves in an environment with limited contact, we can put ourselves in a lonely space.
6. GUIDING HAS A LIMITED CAREER PATH
How far can a guide go? A lot further than you may think. One of the more controversial myths is that becoming a guide can be scary if you are pivoting from a pre-existing career.
There are many ways to view this, but regarding career path, it is what you make of it. Some are happy being in a standard guiding position for their career, whereas others diversify. Some start a more media-focused journey or look at private guiding. It’s the network that you generate as a guide that ultimately determines your career path.
There is no limit to your path here; just like the field itself, it is about your skillset and what you are willing to put in to create your version of success.
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