Search

Life as a back-up with Mike Kirby

“My name is Mike, I’m 24 years old and from Johannesburg, South Africa.

I have always had an obsession with nature, and after graduating from High school and University I knew it was time for me to leave it all behind.

I had done my research about training providers and Ecotraining really stuck out for me. It was the variety of areas where their camps are based that was the deciding factor.

After completing the Field Guide level 1 and the short course components of the year-long course, I arrived in Makuleke and started walking…

I instantly fell in love with the feeling and connection that you get when on foot.

After completing the course I was privileged enough to be asked to back up for Ecotraining as part of my Lodge Placement program.

Being a backup Trails Guide allows you to learn from, and walk behind the absolute best in the industry. The instructors’ experience and knowledge that they share with students cannot be read in a book or taught in a classroom. The privilege of having these mentors share what they have learned over months and countless hours of walking is an opportunity I’ll always be grateful for.

Thanks to Bruce, Dee, Godfrey Baloyi and a bit of luck, I managed to land a job as a Trails Guide for Return Africa, Pafuri. This is a dream come true, and I am exceptionally fortunate to walk in the area in which we do. Makuleke has something that I find very difficult to describe in words. It’s a feeling that I think everyone needs to experience on foot in this remote corner of the Kruger.

I am very fortunate to have walked with unbelievable guides throughout the years in Pafuri, and learnt from them not just about nature, but how we need to appreciate and protect the last few places that can offer us that feeling of wilderness.

The combination of awe and primaeval power of viewing animals on foot, while also finding peace and appreciating an area for what it is, rather than what you aren’t seeing.

I think people who haven’t done a walk in the bush, don’t yet know how much they are going to love it and find a connection on a personal level. A connection that people (I think) are missing in modern society. We need to get back into nature and escape the fast-paced city life. I think everyone needs a little time out here on foot!

I can guarantee there is no better feeling.

Thank you to EcoTraining and all those mentors and people I’ve met along my path who have helped me live my dream”.

About the Author:
Picture of Annemi Zaaiman

Annemi Zaaiman

Explore more

elephant herd in Pridelands with the mountain range in the background
Blog

The Elephant is Watching You

Many people love encountering elephants on their game drive in the South African bush, regardless of whether it is on an individual or a whole herd. Besides the obvious visible behaviour, there are many smaller signs of body language. Knowing them and being able to interpret them can increase your enjoyment of any elephant sighting.

Read more
Blog

The African Wild Dog

African wild dogs are a sight to behold with their colourful coats and long, elegant legs, especially in large packs. Unfortunately, the wild dog is one of the most endangered carnivores on the continent. We find out what makes them unique and how conservation initiatives strive to protect them.

Read more
Blog

The people you meet on an EcoTraining course

Have you decided to take an EcoTraining course? Then, a wealth of information is available to take in beforehand. The course descriptions, enough pictures on social media to make you daydream for hours, packing lists, and videos on EcoTraining’s YouTube channel. You name it, it’s there! One thing you won’t be able to find out upfront, though – unless you sign up with a bunch of friends – is who will be the people joining you on the course. In this story, Wim reflects on the fantastic group on his 35-day Practical Field Guide course.

Read more

Start your wildlife career

Want to become a field or nature guide? Explore our immersive courses and training programmes for professional safari guides and guardians of nature, taught and led by experts in the industry.

EcoTraining offers career and accredited courses, wildlife enthusiast courses, gap year programmes and customised group travel courses.

Join our nature-loving community.