What the bush can teach us about humility

What the bush can teach us about humility

We are sitting up there in absolute quietness, anticipating that giant animal to walk by. The elephant’s size seems more significant than it did at first glance. Its head is about the same height as the little ledge we are sitting on.

A close encounter

He has yet to notice us. But very suddenly, you see a change in his behaviour. He has caught our smell, and a second after he sees us. Nine people in neutral-coloured clothes, sitting on the edge of a sandstone hill in the middle of the Mashatu game reserve, staring at him. He gets scared, flares his ears (a typical warning sign), trumpets – and storms off. “That was pretty close”, smiles our instructor. We all have a big grin, but our legs are still shaky from excitement when we climb down.

This was just one of many encounters during my 28-day Safari Guide course in the bush that quickly made me realize how small we are. Every animal that could do us harm (which they won’t if you act ethically and responsibly around them) can outrun us.

Yes, these giant, heavy African elephants are faster than us (some can run up to 40 km/h, to be precise). If you ever get charged by one, you need to stand your ground, make yourself big, and talk to them (and yes, that is WAY easier said than done).

No room for ego

The bush keeps you humble because no matter how rich you are, how pretty, how fit, how smart – here you are, just a tiny human exposed to the wilderness with all its wonders and dangers. What the bush can teach us about humility is that there is no room for ego here. Some guides may have to learn that the hard way, which doesn’t come as a surprise since the industry seemed to attract lots of alpha males back in the day (things are luckily changing). If you want to put yourself above others in the bush, seek attention, admiration even – at one point, you will (literally) stumble and get reminded that out here, you better pay attention to the things that matter. Trusting your senses like recognizing sounds, for example, the ones of red-billed oxpeckers that might indicate buffalos or rhinos being close. It would help to realize those small changes in the air early enough to interpret them. To get up that ‘koppie’ if necessary, to sit in silence and appreciate that you are allowed to be part of this wild and wonderful place. 

Immerse yourself in the African wilderness, expand your knowledge, and embark on a transformative learning experience with EcoTraining.

Sign up for the 28-day Safari Guide Course today! 

For more information on the 28-day Safari Guide Course, contact [email protected] or call +27 (0)13 7522532

What to expect from the Safari Guide Course

EcoTraining’s 28-day Safari Guide course is an excellent fit for anyone wanting to have a bush breakaway while learning about the environment. If you have always wondered what being a Safari Guide in Africa feels like, now is your chance to fully immerse yourself in an environmentally conscious learning environment.

About the Author:
Picture of Henrietta Reese

Henrietta Reese

Henrietta Reese is a freelance writer, storytelling consultant, and nature guide. She completed her level 1 field guide training with EcoTraining in 2023 and is currently sharing her time (and passions) between Germany, New York, and South Africa, exploring this one wild life. Instagram: @henrietta_reese

Explore more


EcoTraining Celebrates World Environment Day

EcoTraining, a leading provider of professional field guides and nature training in Africa, proudly announces its commitment to World Environment Day. Our mission is to inspire individuals to connect with nature and become guardians of the environment. EcoTraining promotes conservation education and sustainable practices worldwide. We advocate for conservation education and sustainable practices.

Read more
students in nature with clipboards

Leading the Way to Higher Education in Ecotourism

Are you an aspiring nature guide looking to develop your skills and expertise? Look no further than EcoTraining, Africa’s leading safari and wildlife training institution. EcoTraining has achieved a groundbreaking milestone by becoming the first Guide Training School on the continent to receive accreditation from the Council for Higher Education (CHE) in South Africa.
Let us explain why this is such a significant achievement for EcoTraining and the Field Guiding Industry.

Read more
bee on lavendar plant

Why Bees are Important?

Daily we hear about animals whose population numbers are in decline, but did you know that the humble Bees numbers are also in decline and they too are at risk of extinction?

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.