Why we enrolled on a One Year Safari Guide course!

Meet the new recruits of our Professional Field Guide course that started on August 8.  These students came from all walks of life with the same mission: to learn about nature and to follow their passion and dreams. In this blog post, each student gives a short description as to why they decided to do this course, and the drive behind their decision.


Willem van Liemt, 17 (Dutch)

“I heard about this course through a friend of mine a few years ago and he was so enthusiastic about it. He said that I really needed to do this because this would be the chance of my life. I just finished high school and am currently too young to go to college.  I wanted to do something special this year and applied to EcoTraining. I am very happy to be here and can’t wait to get started!”


Sean Harris, 22 (SA)

“I am from Johannesburg. I found out about EcoTraining through the internet. I obtained my graphic design qualification prior to signing up for this course, but guiding has always been my passion. Due to certain complications, I wasn’t able to enrol on the course.  Now I am ready to take the next step.”

Dylan Sanders, 18 (Tanzania)

Dyllan-resized“The bush has always been my passion and my father Mike Sanders was a guide for many years. He gave me the inspiration to take up guiding as a career. I had just finished school and started looking for a guide training school.  EcoTraining was recommended to me. The rest is history…”

Callan Neilson, 22 (SA)


“I always wanted to do something in this line of work. We own timeshare on many game reserves so we always spent time in the bush when I was a child. That is when my love for nature was born. I did not enjoy some of my previous jobs and I have always tried to find a way to get into the guiding industry.  It has been hard up to this point and there were some obstacles in my way that made it so much harder. With these obstacles out of the way, I can now focus on my dream career. I heard about this course through one of my friends who is currently doing the same course.


Dewald Bester, 20 (SA)

“Nature has always been a passion of mine and I really appreciate everything about nature. It is truly where I am in my element.  I grew up in and out of the bush all my life and I really feel at home in it.  I was referred to EcoTraining by my uncle Pieter Brits, and I can’t wait for the journey to begin!”

Leon Pauleikhoff, 22 (German)


“I was a zookeeper for four years in Germany and when I came to South Africa for a safari with my family, I decided that I could not work with animals in a cage anymore. I really fell in love with this country after that trip and wanted to work in Africa. I then went to Botswana for three months to work on a nature conservation project in the Tuli block.  One of EcoTraining’s past students, who worked on this project with me, recommended the course.  Nature is my passion and I want to do something important to serve nature.

Guillaume Perrimond (French)


“I came to South Africa for the first time about three years ago and worked on the Karongwe Game reserve for GVI. I have always wanted to spend as much time as possible in nature. I really fell in love with what I was seeing at Karongwe and decided to come back. I met Andreas Fox who works as a freelance instructor for EcoTraining and he convinced me to join this course. I have also done a lot of research and have spoken to many people who have recommended EcoTraining as the best training provider.  I would like to work in the conservation industry after the completion of my course.”

Jelmer Vonk, 22 (Ireland)


“I came to South Africa for the first time six years ago, which was my one and only time in Africa. I went to college and studied biomedical research but in my second year I realised it was not what I would like to do for the rest of my life and so I decided to quit. At that stage, I did not really know what I wanted to do and a friend of my parents, who have a travel agency here in South Africa, suggested I visit the EcoTraining website and see if it is something I would like to pursue. I have always wanted to do something with animals and found that EcoTraining could offer the opportunity for my dreams to come true.”

George Berthon, 26 (UK)


“I studied conservation biology for six years.  I had a few different jobs since then but did not really know what to do with my life. I first considered working as part of a research team but feel I am not quite ready to do that now. I settled in Hazyview and spent about eight months working at the reptile park. During this time I met a few field guides who convinced me to look at becoming a field guide. I really did not think it was possible, especially trying to find a job in South Africa as a foreigner. It has been said that with a lot of determination, it is possible, so never give up on your dreams!”

Chris Bates, 37 (SA)


“I have 10 years of work experience behind me in the corporate world. Recently I decided to become self-employed. I did an EcoTraining course in Makuleke in 2007 which I won through the EcoTraining competition at the Getaway show.  After this upcoming One Year course I have just begun, I aim to start my own business. I first need to get to know the basics before pursuing my dream to offer birding and photographic guided tours.”

To our ten passionate and excited students, EcoTraining extends a warm welcome! We know they are going to succeed in learning a great deal in this course. It will get difficult at times, but with the support of EcoTraining’s experienced instructors and their fellow students, they will grow in personal strength and skills and become excellent guides and examples to others.

We hope the words of our new students inspire you to take the next step to follow your dream and spend a year in the bush. It is never too late to make a change in your life. We will guide you one step at a time!

About the Author:
Picture of Annemi Zaaiman

Annemi Zaaiman

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