Why it is a good time to become a Nature Guide

As the South African tourism industry continues to thrive and the re-establishment of game reserves and natural wildlife areas continues, the opportunities for ecotourism-related careers are on the increase. One such career is field guiding or more internationally known as safari guiding.

WHAT IS A SAFARI GUIDE?

A safari guide walks or drives safari lodge guests in the game reserve and interprets all elements of nature and wildlife surrounding them. They educate the guests about the large and microscopic elements of the ecosystems, all the while, instilling in them a deeper appreciation of nature and conservation ethics. A role of a safari guide is unique and very diverse. It involves them being a guide, teacher, friend, game warden, doctor, storyteller and sometimes even a cook for guests! Each day in the wilderness is filled with new surprises and experiences.

Game drive during Chinese EQ at Makuleke

WHY DO A WILDLIFE COURSE?

EcoTraining combines the experience of a safari and environmental education into one package. By enrolling for the one-year Professional Field Guide course, students receive the footing and experience they need to follow many other aspirational environmental careers should they choose not to pursue field guiding. This course unlike any other in its calibre is fully immersive in that, students live and learn from remote and prime wilderness areas in well-known reserves, giving students the feeling that they are an extension of nature. The number of enrolments on each safari guide course is kept to a minimal of 18 to 20 per group, ensuring that personal consideration is given to each student to ensure that their full potential is achieved.

Student looking over Lanner Gorge

If this is not enough, what about our compassion and consideration towards our planet? People need to become aware that the planet is under stress and that we as the human race need to learn how to live within the means of what nature can sustain. By sharing nature’s processes, its ecosystems and the importance of wilderness, EcoTraining seeks to equip people with the skills necessary to effect positive change in the world.

Rhino dehorning - conservation

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE COURSE?

Upon completion of a professional Nature guide course, one is qualified to take guests out on safari game drives and guided wilderness walks, encountering big game on foot.  During the safari guides’ career, he or she usually works towards gaining enough lodge experience, working towards becoming a head guide. From there, the opportunities branch in different directions such as becoming a camp or game lodge manager, guide co-ordinator and so on. For those qualified safari guides who prefer the alternative usually seek out ‘sought after’ opportunities such as working as a specialist guide (birding, photography, plants) and as a freelance guide to safari operators that employ the use of highly specialised and experienced guides. This work can be lucrative and these top guides get to this point by making a name for themselves in the local and international safari tourism industry.

Since safari guides have the privilege of spending up to 8 hours each day in the natural wilderness environment being exposed to a number of observations and encounters daily. Depending on how they choose to approach their guiding career, many become experts in a number of fields because of the continual exposure to these observations and encounters.

Many interesting sights and observations are made by safari guides that not even top researchers have been able to make. These observations can lead to other developments in one’s career that may not necessarily be related to guiding. Examples of this include filming, writing, photography, art and consulting.

With the rise of so many developments in conservation and specialised fields in field guiding, there is no better time than the present to get involved and be on the forefront of the industry. To find out more about Professional Field Guide course is about click here.