If you ever were to meet a person oozing with a love for life, an engaging manner and ease with meeting people, it would be Raymond Khosa, seasoned field and trails guide in the Kruger National Park. Within minutes of talking to him, you will realise his razor-sharp memory for facts, people’s journeys and his career, which started with an EcoTraining Course 14 years ago.
This young African man, along with 10 other individuals, had fortune come his way when they were selected to attend a sponsored four-week EcoTraining Tracking course. An international guest was on safari at the renowned luxury safari lodge, Londolozi, in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve of South Africa.
Moved by the role and function of trackers in the safari tourism industry, the Londolozi guest hosted a fashion show in Europe to raise funds and the successful event resulted in enough funds that they could bequeath to an NGO, the Africa Foundation. The Africa Foundation was charged with managing the noble cause of putting the 10 selected candidates through the EcoTraining Tracking course.
Under the guidance of instructors Johan Lombard, Anton Lategan, Khimbile Mnisi and the late Lucky Mavanga, Raymond and his fellow course participants started honing their skills and learning more about nature and its inhabitants.
Starting a career
Upon completion and graduation of the course, the doors of Raymond’s future were flung wide open. Remaining connected to the Africa Foundation, Raymond entered his safari guide career in 2004 with the Kruger National Park, based at the Berg en Dal camp as a guide, conducting walks and game drives for safari guests.
In 2010, Raymond was promoted to senior field guide of another Kruger National Park camp, Lower Sabie, in preparation for Soccer World Cup visitors. Only three months later, Raymond was promoted to head guide of Berg en Dal camp. The promotions kept coming and in May 2013, Raymond was promoted to the status of a wilderness trails ranger. He was relocated to Wolhuter Trails camp, one of the oldest camps in the park, dating back to 1978. From there he was moved to Napi Trails in the Pretoriuskop area, as a trails ranger.
By this time, Raymond gained substantive experience and knowledge, and was well equipped to obtain his Tourism Guiding Level 2 qualification. It was a 14-day course and qualification, and Raymond was generously sponsored by an organisation called Tourism World.
Growing his career, reaching for the stars
Raymond continued to grow and develop himself and his career. He went on to obtain the FGASA Field Guide Level 2 and Trails Guide qualifications and is now accredited as a THETA NQF Level 4 Guide.
Still reaching for the stars, and driven by only his passion for the wildlife of Africa, Raymond was nominated as a candidate for the annual Safari Guide of the Year competition, arranged by an organisation, Africa Direct. This competition aimed to seek the best guides in South Africa in various categories of guiding. Raymond was selected as the winner for the Walking Trails category.
What drives and motivates Raymond
Raymond feels strongly that our wildlife must be presented and interpreted to his guests in the best way possible.
“What is special about the wilderness trails,” says Raymond, “is that it may not make him the richest man, but he is and will always be rich with great memories, surrounded by people of all ages wanting to know more about conservation and the stories of the wilderness.
“Money cannot buy joy,” says Raymond, who understands the importance of his job in spreading the conservation message to the rest of the world.