Yuka Ota: from Tokyo to the African bush

My name is Yuka Ota. I’m from Tokyo, Japan. I’m currently working as a Field Guide at one of the lodges in South Africa as an intern. I have never imagined that I would be doing what I’m doing today before I joined the Professional Field Guide course with EcoTraining.

EcoTraining totally changed my life.

My passion has always been about animals ever since I was a little child. I have always loved wild animals and being able to protect them was my dream job. I have participated in a lot of nature conservation projects in many countries such as Australia and Malaysia. And when I joined a conservation project in Botswana I totally fell in love with the African wilderness.

I was lucky enough to meet a guide who graduated from EcoTraining and she told me about the amazing experience that she had with EcoTraining.

I decided to take a year off from university in Japan and join the year course, which was the biggest and best decision I had ever made so far in my life. Though it was just to get some experience at the beginning, I realized I really love the bush and wanted to become a Field Guide through doing the course.

Listening to stories around a campfire under the stars

It was such a great experience to study with other students who have a common passion for wildlife and learn from the inspirational instructors at EcoTraining. I was not very confident to speak English in front of people when I started the course, but the instructors not only vastly increased my knowledge but also helped me gain confidence. Thanks to them, I could successfully finish my course by obtaining the necessary qualifications to be a guide.

After the course, I went back to the university in Japan. While I was in Japan I just couldn’t stop thinking about the bush, which made me want to go back to Africa and pursue my dream of becoming a guide as soon as I finished my degree in tourism at the university.

Now my goal is to work as a guide with a work visa instead of guiding as an intern with only a student visa. It’s not going to be easy as I am a foreigner, but I never want to give up on this as long as there is a possibility. I would love to bring more Japanese people into this spectacular natural environment and play the role of a bridge between the African wilderness and Japan in the future”.

In this video, Yuka managed to shoot better than all the guys on the same course. It was taken during the Advanced Rifle Handling training in preparation for the Trails Guide course.

About the Author:
Annemi Zaaiman

Annemi Zaaiman

Explore more

a group of students looking at tracks in the sand

Understanding Wildlife Tracking

The ancient art of tracking unveils the secrets of animal behaviour. We explore the key steps of identifying, interpreting, and tracking wild animals in the heart of the South African wilderness.

“Do not be afraid to get dirty. Get down on your knees and have a close look at the tracks. It is essential to take your time. You can make a mistake by being too quick on the trigger when identifying tracks,” said Gerhard Delport, a former EcoTracker student.

Read more
students at lanner gorge

EcoTraining Celebrates 30 Years of Excellence

Thirty years of EcoTraining is a significant milestone. This celebration is a testament to EcoTraining’s long history of promoting field guiding and wildlife conservation. It’s an opportunity to inspire the next generation of passionate individuals who will continue the legacy of creating guardians of the natural world.

Read more
a group of students walking in nature.

How do I become a Backup Trainee for EcoTraining? 

“To be selected as a backup trail guide is a privilege and carries great responsibility. You are responsible for the life of the Lead Trails Guide and the lives of guests who are with you and require a great deal of trust”, says Gino Cinquina, former EcoTraining Backup. As a backup trainee for EcoTraining, you can walk in beautiful wilderness areas and experience incredible moments on foot with wild animals.

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.

× Available from 08:00 to 16:30 Available on SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday