AlumniOur Alumni program is designed to reward and benefit our alumni by encouraging graduates to network within the industry, build your career and support new students.
Here at Bushwise Field Guides, we pride ourselves on the success of our alumni. Local Bushwise graduates are guaranteed a job offer after completion of the twelve-month course. Read more about our employment guarantee.
Alumni success stories, and testimonials from past students, are valuable to anyone looking to enrol at Bushwise. They give insight, first-hand experience, and a truthful review of how students experience the Bushwise course. We have gathered some of our top success stories and insightful testimonials for you to read.
If you are looking to meet up with Bushwise alumni, send an email to [email protected] and we will find an alum in your region to chat to.
Daneline Kruger - Kafue National Park, Zambia
I did my course in Jan 2016. I wanted to get my FGASA and gain more experience in guiding and in return I gained so much more. I loved the course and grew so much in my confident and learned to take more risks and just believing in myself. The course definitely helps you grow and helps you get a foot in the door with the placement after the course. I became very close with other students and everyone becomes like family. The trainers go out of their way to help us and I will always be so thankful for that.
I did my placement at Makalali private game reserve as a guide for one of their lodges for 6 months gaining valuable experience. After the placement I started doing research on some Facebook pages and got in touch with some recruitment agents. An agent got in touch and found a lovely little lodge called Leopard Mountain Lodge in the Rhino Reserve in Kwa Zulu Natal. I started in January and was really happy to work for this 4 star award winning lodge in Zululand. It is small and intimate and only a team of 3 guides in a small lodge that can take 18 people. I am also assisting the lodge with taking the photos which the lodge can use on various platforms, so it is a good combination of guiding and photography.
In September 2017 I decided to move back to Zambia. I am based in the Kafue national park in Zambia where I am working as a guide and junior management. I am the first female guide in the Kafue where in Zambia we are only 5 registered female guides in the whole of Zambia. The lodge, Ila Green Safaris, where I am working now is an amazing lodge and is undergoing the transition to go completely ‘green’. We have 4 game viewers, one is running on battery’s and is rechargeable and we also have an electric boat that is powered by Soler panels. The whole lodge power is also powered by Soler panels. This lodge is really putting the environment first! I am glad to be
part of this wonderful lodge.
Elliot Evans - INGWE Leopard Research, South Africa
Ever since I was young and having grown up in East Africa, I had always felt like I belonged in the bush. So after school I obtained my Zoology degree and then went looking for some hands on practical experience. After searching online, I came across Bushwise and the course they offer. I attended the course in January 2015. I chose this course because I thought that the course was a brilliant way to enhance my love of conservation and passion for nature, aswell as give my additional qualifications and have the opportunity to perhaps live and work in South Africa.
I am glad I did the course because I thought it was fantastic and there was nothing about it I would have changed. I did my placement in the Makalali Private Game Reserve and worked under Ross Kettle (Reserve Manager/Warden) as his Reserve Assistant Manager. There I learnt allot about Reserve management and gained valuable working experience.
At the present moment I split my work between two positions. I am assisting as a researcher for a Leopard Conservation Group called INGWE Leopard Research. The other is a safari lodge called "Rukiya Safari Camp" in Wildrivers Nature Reserve where I am a Field Guide and take their guests on game drives and bush walks. It is run by a previous Bushwise Trainer, Conraad Loubser, who subsequently was my trainer when I attended the Bushwise course.
I look forward to the future as one can never really plan where you end up because you never know where this line of work can take you. But I will approach it with an open mind and enthusiasm for its spontaneity.
Ebenezer Mnyene - Four Seasons Safari Lodge, Tanzania
I did the Bushwise Field Guide course in January 2015. On a guide perspective I thought the course was very productive, educational and it always gave us the opportunity to learn and discover new thing in the bush.
I would recommend the course as it covers very important topics and it gives you the feel of the bush.
When I left the Bushwise I worked at Allen Tanzania Safari as a guide for two months then I got a job as an assistant manager at a small camp called Manyara Ranch. My duties included walking safaris, game drives (morning, evening and night game drives) I also assisted in and around the lodge with hosting. The training I got from Bushwise gave me a good background that allowed me to fit in and be comfortable in various positions.
I am currently working at The Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti as a supervisor in Training in rooms & Discovery center. I have spent four months in Front office, two weeks in Food & beverage, two weeks in spa desk, two and a half month in housekeeping and now finalising in the discovery centre for four months.
I still guide and conduct walking safaris when I am here, I am also the snake handler at the lodge which I really enjoy. So far I have captured and released a rock Python, puff adders, Boomslang and a lot of spotted bush snakes. I love the bush and enjoy wildlife photography and having the opportunity to make new friends.
My future plan is to grow in the guiding industry, I am looking forward to attain my Advanced Field Guide (old Level 2) My long term is to start a company that will not only be based on guiding but also educating, mentoring and training fellow guides and keen tourists.
Ash Gallagher - Nyati Safari Lodge, South Africa
I was already interested in moving to back South Africa, having grown up in the United Kingdom. I was employed as a
professional animal keeper but wanted an opportunity to work with African wildlife (preferably orphan rhino’s and
elephant’s!) I decided that a long term course would be a great way to get to grips with my new adopted home. It
provided me with a year of guaranteed meals and a roof over my head, plus a chance to make friends as soon as I
arrived. The fact that I already had experience as a tour guide and experience with animals was a bonus.
I soon realised that choosing Bushwise was the right direction to take after I arrived and it just seemed like a natural
progression. The course syllabus seemed to contain all the right ingredients to make it interesting. The course, like
any 6 months from anyone's life, had ups and downs. There are always moments where you question your decisions,
but things all turned out alright in the end. After a couple of decades of working late nights the mornings came as a
bit of a shock to the system, I'll admit. Generally, the information was presented well, but we were enrolled at what
felt like a transitional period for Bushwise – having some trainers resign during our course.
My Placement was with a local lodge specialising in catering for guests from Scandinavia called Nyati Safari Lodge.
Within my first few days at the lodge I was handed a rifle and was told to go for a walk down the river on which the
lodge is sited – it is in the Greater Kruger so you never know what you'll find. I sat down for a rest under a tree and
thought "Well, you got the hat, the gun and you're in the Bush. I suppose you're a ranger, now." I stood up and
knocked myself out cold on a branch… so I suppose I still had a bit to learn… At least I woke up intact.
It was informally indicated to me reasonably early that I would be permanently employed at the end of my
placement should I wish to stay. I've now been at the lodge for about 10 months, and things are going well, apart
from the noisy lions on the river front keeping me awake at night.
I would recommend Bushwise if you want to get in the guiding industry. Be prepared to mix with the addendum of
different people that do the course for different reasons. Some people are only along for the ride and don't care who
they disrupt, so be prepared and stay focused and remember why you are on the course.
Future plans are to open a non-profit animal rescue centre, funded by private donations and international
volunteers! We are in the final stages of securing funding from investors, so fingers crossed!
Jolandie Botha - African Impact, South Africa
After completing my BSc(agric) Animal Science degree, I decided to do the Professional Field Guide course in
January 2014 so that I could to gain working experience in the field before I tackled my Masters. I have always loved
the bush and the ‘calm’ that it brings. There is nothing like teaching people about the majestic nature of the bush while
watching animals interacting with each other and I feel that guiding is the best platform for this.
I really loved the course and made good friends while gaining valuable experience. I had the best trainers I could have
hoped for and felt prepared and confident to tackle the guiding world after I completed the course.
My 6 month work placements was at Ivory tree game lodge in the Pilanesberg National Park as a Field Guide and got
a permanent position after my placement. Here I gained valuable guiding experience and I also worked as a Duty
Manager. I worked there for almost 2 years and then went to African Impact which is based in the Greater Kruger
National Park. This organisation takes on conservation volunteers and I assist them with collecting data for research
during game drives on a Big 5 reserve. There is a lot more to guiding once you move into a job like this and you learn
the true value of conservation through many other projects and how to teach others how valuable your actions can be.
Working in the local communities has also opened my eyes to the need to teach them and educate them about all the
conservation activities that are around them.
I am currently completing my Masters in Veterinary Science, while working at African Impact, in the hopes to make an
impact through conservation on South African farms. I am looking at the use of livestock guarding animals such as
Donkeys, Alpacas and Dogs and how they can be used to protect livestock against predators like jackals and caracal
decreasing losses experienced by farmers.
My work in the bush has given me the chance to view the problem from both perspectives and I hope to use that in the
future. I would love to find a way that both farmers and wildlife can live in harmony.
I would always recommend Bushwise to anyone wanting to enter a career in wildlife. This is the perfect place to learn
about the bush and everything that it entails and through this I gained a lot of experience practically. It is definitely the
place for you if you are looking to be a step above the rest, they go above and beyond in giving you information and
helping you to learn how to convey this to people.
Ryan Jack - Africa on Foot, South Africa
I heard about Bushwise from two ex-students, Mike Beard and Jen Harmen, and an ex-Bushwise Trainer Cobus Spies when I was asking about Field Guiding courses and where to study. I then did my own research into the course and saw that Bushwise offered a comprehensive course for a competitive price. Unlike the some other courses that I researched, I felt that Bushwise had the best value for money.
I thought that the course was very good, with a great balance of the theory and practical, as well as offering great additional qualifications, especially the tracking qualification, Cybertracker. That additional qualification helped me later as a working guide in the industry. I was placed at Africa on Foot in the Klaserie Private Game Reserve, which I really loved. I was always interested in Trails guiding and that was an excellent placement opportunity. From the moment, it confirmed my decision to become a Trails Guide and do walking safaris. Africa on Foot is unique in that this is what they offer. It was a great place to start my career in the industry and the guides there really helped me learn even more and grow as a guide.
I am now working permanently for Africa on Foot at their sister camp called nThmabo Tree Camp which is situated in the Klaserie Private Game Reserve. I plan to gain my full Lead Trails qualification and then go onto to do Level 2 FGASA. I would eventually like to start leading guided walks out into the reserve. I would definitely recommend Bushwise as it is a great course and an amazing experience which can help you get a great start in the guiding industry.
Jason Kipling - African Impact, South Africa
I chose Bushwise back in 2010 after doing a lot of research and looking at various other training providers. There are a lot of courses out there but Bushwise seemed to be the most comprehensive. The fact that the course was 1 year, including placement appealed to me as opposed to the shorter courses that are out there. Honestly, the 6 months I spent on the Bushwise course was the best 6 months of my life. The trainers were enthusiastic and very involved in all aspects of the training and really did go the extra mile to help out where they could. The knowledge and the experience I gained during this time has gotten me to where I am today.
My placement was at Sheppard Tree Lodge in the Pilanesberg, where I was hired permanently and stayed for almost a year. Since my placement, I have worked all over South Africa, both as a permanent guide and a freelance guide. From the Sabi sands – to Hluhluwe – Imfolozi – to the Timbavati and Klaserie to name but a few. I now have almost 7 year’s working experience as a Field Guide.
Right Now I am the Head Guide at African Impact Conservation project, Great Kruger area, working with a full team of past Bushwise students! I also work for Kruger National Park on a freelance basis as a Trails ranger conducting 4-day wilderness and backpack trails.
I am currently in the process of starting my own company, Afritrack Wilderness excursions, which specialises in bush walks and rustic multi-day trails.
I would definitely recommend Bushwise to anybody who is looking to be a guide or even someone who just wants to get to know more about the African bush and perhaps get a foot in the door to conservation.
Emma Jenkins - Siyafunda, South Africa
Emma Jenkins riding the wave of success after completing the Bushwise course in July 2013.
Emma studied Environmental Science, Biology & World Development after she left school she has always been fascinated with Africa and wanted a job to do with the outdoors. She went to volunteer in Namibia where she met someone who had done a Bushwise course. They recommend this to Emma and from there her journey was about to start. She went back to work to save money and wait until she turned 21 to be able to do the long term course with work placement option.
Emma did her 6 month work placement at Siyafunda, a company who assists Makalali Private Game Reserve with animal research and monitoring. Emma was only there a few months and was offered a permanent position as Volunteer Co-ordinator. Her previous studies, hard work, connection to volunteers and love for the bush was evident and this helped her get a permanent job offer. She has since been promoted to Science Officer & Senior Facilitator and assists with all aspects of managing Siyafunda together with the owner, other staff and current Bushwise student, Sam Adams.
‘Bushwise opened doors for me into the industry and helped me gain confidence. I used to be really shy and awkward speaking in front of people.’
Emma’s future plans are to do her FGASA Level 2 and she is about to complete her Full Trails Guide. Her favourite part of her job is walking on foot in Big 5 territory.
Micheal Beard - Africa on Foot, South Africa
“On foot” with past student Michael Beard! Here is his inspiring story!
“Ever since I was young, a friend of mine and myself had always talked about doing a course for Field Guiding and being in the bush! After finishing a course in Cape Town at the Soul Candi Institute of music, I became a qualified music producer. Music and the bush are my biggest passions! Growing up in Magoebaskloof definitely ignited my passion and undying love that I have for the outdoors! I also love working with people so Field guiding is a good combination.
I did the July 2012 Professional Field Guide course and loved it!! I think the reason for this is the fact that the trainers did such great. We had such awesome and knowledgeable trainers!!! The students that were with me on the course were exceptional. Such great people and I am still in close contact with many of them. The friendships I made also made my time on the course special! Theoretically, the course was done in a lot of detail so when it came to the final exam we were well prepared Bushwise definitely is a place where long time friendships can be made.
My girlfriend at the time and I did our work placement at nKambeni tented camp for a month and then went to Nambiti, Springbok Lodge where 2 guiding positions had just opened up and we were offered permanent jobs. The reserve is beautiful and I had never before or since seen anything quite so spectacular! The game viewing was also incredible and quite unique with huge herds of eland as well as the elusive aardwolf.
After a few months I joined went to complete my back-up trails guide. At Bushwise they only assists with getting your theory Back up trails. It would be wonderful if they considered adding the full qualification to the list of courses they provide. After I was fully qualified as Back up Trails guide I was able to get a job with Africa on Foot in the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve. I have am still here and very happy doing what I love, bush walks!
I have since also obtained my lead trails qualification. I have recently passed my L2 exam and obtained 1000 walking hrs. My next goal is to get my Advanced Trails Guide”
Tim Connelly - Explora Hotel, Patagonia
After graduating from Bushwise in 2011 I worked at a French safari lodge on a private game reserve just outside Kruger National Park, guiding guests on some of the famous game reserves and inside Kruger. I eventually got the contact of another French lodge in Nepal where I had already been and loved, so spent several months there, also doing safaris but searching for all the iconic Asian wildlife in the very remote Bardia National Park in the far West of the country. Sceneries and villages straight out of Rudyard Kiblings Jungle Book story.
The park has almost no roads so the exploration is done on foot and raft boats silently floating down the many rivers looking for birds but also rhinos, elephants and the notorious Bengal tiger. Even in such a different environment applying and reinforcing my knowledge acquired as a Bushwise student fell right into place.
As a Bushwise alumni one of my fellow student mate was now famous Chilean documentalist René Arenada who had worked as a nature guide all the way at the end of the world in the majestic Torres del Paine National Park for an exploration company called Explora, located right in the middle of a surreal landscape. Immediately intrigued by his description of the place, the wildlife, the mountains, fjords, glacier and the horses I thought I had to see it for myself, so decided to go and check it out and realised it was far more amazing that I had ever imagined.
Hard to believe that such a place really exists, the mixture of open rolling hills and the sudden very sharp towering granite formation surrounded by thousands of lake and rivers of all of the gradients of blue possibly imaginable. Now consider that with the addition of winds up to 120 km/h vaporising those same lakes, producing ephemeral rainbows that appear and disappear constantly all over. Furious winds that makes it rain over by the west and sunny by the east, winds that polish the clouds into whispering and soft ufos, which fly over the mountains and give the skies a whole new dimension, I can easily imagine Van Gogh not being able to contain himself at the sight of one of those sunset skies.
All of the above conditions generate a highly dynamic and dramatic atmosphere, where one is tirelessly invited to scenes of mesmerising awe at the most unexpected places.
I was left with only one outcome from all of this… Apply for a guide position at the famous luxurious hotel known for its focus on in-depth exploration on foot and horseback riding. Greatly surprised to find out that once accepted as a guide you have to go through a three month training program that teaches you all about Patagonia, the geology, glaciology, flora, fauna but also an intensive course on riding horses which I had only occasionally done. Needless to say what a great way of getting introduced to the wonders of the Patagonia ways.
Now armed with all the tools and knowledge that added even more to my previous experiences as a nature guide, I was ready to lead guests into the beauty of the park, apply my knowledge from Africa to find and interpret the wildlife, not as diverse as Africa for sure but very iconic none the less, condors, giant woodpeckers, big guanacos, ostrich like Rhea birds, foxes, armadillos and the elusive puma which lives in this national park with the highest concentration of all the Americas, fourth biggest cat in the world it is quite the sighting and we get to see on a regular basis as well, especially in winter.
The ethology learned with Bushwise came in very handy and other concepts that I brought with me from my previous safari experiences were greatly appreciated within my guiding community. The tourism industry not been as developed in this far corner of the world I took advantage of the low season to write a book that can only be described as the Patagonian version of the FGASA field guide manual, a compilation of the basics of the different subjects related to guiding in Patagonia, complemented and enriched with animal behaviour on mammals and birds, ecological concepts, guest management and leadership.
I now am the head guide at the Explora hotel, in charge of a team of 24 guides from all over the world, helping and managing the guide school, selecting and training of the new guides but also giving the opportunity to push and enhance the exploration experience by going finding yet more place to explore and bring our guests to some of wildest places of Patagonia’
Kyle Smith - Mala Mala, South Africa
I did the course from July to December 2016 and I absolutely loved it! Before this I was working for a company in Durban doing sales and marketing but thank goodness I chose to go to a Bushwise course as I feel I made the best choice ever!!
I found a link to Bushwise Field Guides when I was surfing through Facebook, an ad popped up and I followed the link. I was instantly hooked and knew this is what I had been waiting for and needed to apply straight away! I absolutely loved the course even though tough at times, so prepare to work and study hard. I made friends for life and the course further ignited my deep passion and love for the Bush that was instilled in me after previously going to Kruger many years in the past on family holidays! I also completed the Backup Trails course, because I enjoy walking in Big 5 areas with people, educating them on the sights and sounds around us. Another passion is spending time on foot in the bush so this goes perfectly hand in hand. I am currently building on hours and encounters for Lead trails and have booked my assessment!
I did my placement at nThambo tree Camp in the Klaserie Game Reserve in the Limpopo province. It was awesome and I learnt so much while working there with past Bushwise students who have been there for a few years now.
From there my first permanent position was Umkumbe safari lodge in the Sabi Sand private game reserve part of the greater Kruger National Park. I worked there for a while but landed a dream job at Mala Mala. I have been here for a few months now and so honoured to work in a world renowned lodge where the standard of guiding is extremely high and leopard sightings are common!
My future plans are to keep learning as much as possible and enhance my photography skills. I love to do wildlife photography and I am motivated to do this as a career in the future.’
Tim Connelly - Head Guide Explora Hotel, Patagonia
After volunteering on a GVI conservation program in Belize, working with the institute of archaeology the organisation informed me about Bushwise Field Guides, saying that if I was interested in nature guiding I could apply to this Field Guiding course to become a Safari Guide. I thought that sounded like the coolest thing ever.
So I did some research I realised that Bushwise was the perfect course to enter the guiding industry, certifying you in all the different areas needed to become a Professional Field Guide. I really liked the remoteness of the campus, all the subjects that it involved and how they linked together in the field practically. Being introduced to the amazing field of ethology and animal behaviour was a highlight for me. I also learned how getting an understanding of the different aspects of the wilderness can enhance the ‘nature’ experience which in turn inspires you to become an ambassador for the natural world. I did my placement at Mopaya Safari Lodge, just outside Kruger National Park. It was a great venue because it allowed me to practice all of the knowledge I had learned in English and translated it for the French-speaking guests. France is the country where I have lived for most of my life. I got to know the Kruger National Park well and about the other surrounding private game reserves.
Since leaving South Africa, I went to the hot savanna based southern region of Nepal, just outside the ‘jungle book’ reserve Bardia National Park. I worked in a lodge that takes French-speaking guests out on walks in the park. There I was able to apply my African knowledge to the Asian wilderness, tracking tigers on foot as well as elephant and rhinos roaming the plains and gaining knowledge on the outstanding birdlife. During this time I was mostly walking and rafting, which allows you to float silently down the rivers and look for animals and birds to show your guests.
I am currently working as Exploration Manager at the Explora hotel at the south of Patagonia in the pristine Torres del Paine National Park, known for its dramatic geological formation and its wildlife such as guanacos, pumas and condors. I started as I guide, leading hikes and horseback rides which Patagonia is famous for. I'm now in charge of a team of 20 guides from all around the world. We run our own guide school where we teach the new guides in a similar way that Bushwise taught me. It is a 3-month training program that prepares and trains the students in our specific way of guiding and philosophy to become the best guides in Patagonia. I have recently compiled a Patagonian version of the famous FGASA Field Guides books as an attempt to bring and share some of the valuable tradition of Nature Guides that South Africa has done so well developing.
In my future, I see myself thriving in an International wilderness nature guiding industry, teaching and sharing some of the most amazing powerful facts nature has to offer us. I have and will continue to recommend Bushwise because it is a great way to enter the guiding industry. It could also be a life-changing year for you personally. You will learn to be amazed by the smallest things. As Henry Miller used to say; “The moment one gives close attention to anything even a blade of grass becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.”
Anel Olivier - Majete Wildlife Reserve, Malawi
What did you do before Bushwise? I completed a 4 year degree in BSc Conservation Ecology at
Why did you decide to do a Field guide course? Ever since I could remember I’ve had an immense love for
the environment and longed to live in the bush and work with wildlife. When I was still very little, we went on
a night drive in the Kgalagadi National Park with a female field guide who was probably then the age that I
am now. We had an unforgettable sighting of a beautiful young leopard and I was so impressed by the
confident way the field guide interpreted the animal’s behaviour. She opened my eyes to the possibilities of
my own future and from that moment on I had a dream to become a field guide and share the natural
world’s treasures with others. As I grew older, my view of wildlife careers have broadened and now my first
passion is wildlife research and conservation work. Field guiding seemed like a brilliant stepping stone in
my career path while enabling a lifelong dream to come true.
What made you chose Bushwise? First of all I really like the name Bushwise. Coming from city-life my main
priority was to become "bushwise" and be able to handle myself in a big five area where you are exposed
to the elements, constantly being tested in your ability to interpret the environment. Bushwise is a very
down-to-earth organisation run by passionate staff willing to invest a lot of time into their students. Students
are motivated to grow and develop into the best they can be, by fgasa standards but also individuals’
What did you think of the course? The course was incredibly well planned, but also leaving space to
change and adapt which is a necessity in the bush. The practical hands-on approach somehow makes it
possible to cram an enormous amount of information and experiences into such a short time. It considers
all aspects needed to become a great field guide and become fully adaptable and confident to live and
work in the bush.
Where did you do your placement? I did a 6 month placement at Greenfire Game Lodge in Balule Wildlife
Reserve. I did game drives and bush walks, hosting in the main lodge, and also some general lodge and
reserve management activities.
What have you done since your placement? I am currently in my second MSc year at Stellenbosch
University. I went to Majete Wildlife Reserve in Malawi for 15 months to do fieldwork for my study on black
rhino ecology. This was the most incredible experience which included working with Earthwatch volunteers,
animal counts during game drives, vegetation sampling, black rhino tracking, 12h long waterhole counts
and the list goes on. Myself and only one other researcher, Kayla Geenen, were running the research bush
camp, including maintaining the vehicles and every other aspect involved in living in a remote reserve.
Kayla is also an ex-Bushwise student and always had my back in the bush. Bushwise surely set us up with
the right skills needed for this life.
What are your future plans? First I need to finish writing my MSc thesis. Then I will go off into the bush
again with full confidence in myself and the work I do. I am very open to any opportunities that come my
way, hoping for a position in wildlife research and monitoring, and working with volunteers.
Would you recommend Bushwise and why? Definitely yes. It is the perfect window into a career in the
bush, whether it is into guiding or any other wildlife related field. Bushwise builds a personal lasting
relationship with each of their students, making you a part of their small bush-family.
Ashley Donaldson - Klaserie Camps, South Africa
I have always been fascinated with nature and animals of any kind. After school I completed my MSc in Zoology at
the University of Pretoria, as well as a diploma in photography with a focus on wildlife.
I joined the July 2015 Bushwise Course and chose it because of the length of the course, the very informative
website and all inclusive course content. My decision was made to take a break from the academic world but didn’t want to move into a field too far removed from my specialization. The Field Guide course offered the perfect opportunity to work in the bush as well as share my
knowledge with other people. I found the course very informative and think that it covered all of the essentials needed for a student to be
successful in the industry.
I did a six month placement at Clifftop Exclusive Safari Hideaway in Welgevonden Reserve in the Waterberg.
I moved to Madikwe Game Reserve after my placement to work at the Bush House. I am about to start a new job as
a Lodge Manager at Klaserie Camps.
I would like to carry on conducting field research in pursuit of a PhD and find a way to combine this with Field
My advice for future guides is to take the time to enjoy the smaller things in the bush, there are far more interesting
things out there than big 5 sightings! Once your passion for the job starts to show, your guests will have a fantastic
Thabisane Ernest - Mala Mala Game Reserve, South Africa
Past Bushwise student now working at the iconic Mala Mala Game Reserve.
A past Bushwise student and recipient of the Annual Bushwise Scholarship Thabisani Ernest
Buthelezi, now works at the Iconic Mala Mala Game Reserve.
Amongst other things, Mala Mala Game Reserve is famous for being the oldest Private
Game Reserve in the Southern Africa, having started eco-tourism safaris in 1960's, it is
indeed the birthplace of the safari industry in South Africa. (A Male leopard during an
Ernest takes us through how he managed to secure himself a job at such an iconic and
pristine piece of Africa. I had been freelancing around the Lowveld when I read on Mala Mala’s
website on their vacancy section that they were looking for a guide.
The requirements were stated clearly on the website: FGASA L1, First Aid L2, Track & Sign
Qualification, Advanced 4×4 Driving Certificate, knowledge of food and beverage. Thanks to
Bushwise, I had all the required qualifications that obviously put me in a more advantaged
position. I was then invited for a 2-day interview, where they assess if you’re a nature
enthusiast, and whether you have the passion and knowledge to provide a life enriching
experience for their high profiled clientele.
My best experience so far is when I saw 9 different leopards, a herd of Sable antelopes, all
during a three-hour game drive. Mala Mala is not only known for being the biggest and
oldest private game reserve in the country, but also known for its unmatched game viewing.
As far as game viewing goes, Mala Mala is right up there at the TOP.
My advice to aspiring guides out there is, never underestimate what you can achieve. Focus
and never stop learning.
I wouldn’t have achieved all this without the high-quality training from Bushwise Field
Guides, thank you for the opportunity, thanks to the dedicated and experienced trainers who
equipped me with knowledge and field experience. The advice and mentorship after I had
finished the course has been very helping during the beginning of my guiding career.
Carole - Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa
I first came to South Africa in 2012 as a volunteer with GVI, working on their lion monitoring project. During this trip I heard about the rhino poaching crisis and decided I wanted to help and to take action in the fight for Rhino conservation. The staff at GVI amazed me with their passion and the knowledge that they had gained through the Field Guide course with Bushwise. I realized, for the first time, that working with wildlife and conservation in Africa could actually be more than just a dream. I came back to pursue the 1 year Field Guide training course with Bushwise in January 2015, with the same goal of working on the conservation and protection of Rhinos.
The first 6 months of the course were led by amazing trainers who taught me way more than I had ever expected about the bush and wildlife. Ethical guiding and a respect for the environment were highlighted in both theoretical and practical training, something which was and is very important for me.
We covered many aspects during the course, such as ecology, astrology, ethology, and tracking aptitudes to give us an holistic understanding and a full awareness of our surroundings. After completing my training I did a placement at Leo, a research program that monitors lions and rhinos, where I learned a lot about black (hook-lipped) and white (square-lippe) rhino behaviour, and how to handle myself in the bush in their presence.
I then contacted Craig Spencer, the head warden of Balule Nature Reserve (part of the Greater Kruger area) and founder of the Black Mambas, the first nearly all female anti-poaching unit, to work with him. His passion and devotion for conservation are recognized worldwide and working for him was, for me, the best opportunity to learn and to take action.
I started working on his team in January of this year, and have already achieved a lot. My job is very diverse and allows me to see and do a lot for conservation. The rhino monitoring is a big part of the job, but reserve maintenance, animal tracking, animal darting and grass surveys are just a few examples of the work we do to achieve our conservation goals.
In order to help protect our rhinos, I am starting a fundraising campaign to buy camera traps that will monitor our rhinos in a less intrusive manner. We use camera traps at the main waterholes and game paths to cover the whole of Balule. This allows us to deploy our anti-poaching units around these “hot spots”. I hope that through raising awareness this will help not only us and the rhinos but that it will also help people to understand how important it is to protect our wildlife, our heritage, and our planet to allow the next generation to appreciate the bush as we do today.
Melanie Groenewald - Senalala Lodge, South Africa
Since I was a child of 5 or 6, my dream job was to be a field guide – to live and work in the bush and to learn all the intricacies of nature and how the puzzle of life all fits together and to share that knowledge and my passion with people.
When I matriculated years ago, I forgot about this dream and got caught up with working and the trials and tribulations of city life. Up until three years ago I reached a point in my life where I thought to myself, "what are you doing?’’ You’re working to make money to survive but you’re not actually happy. There was something wrong with this picture for me.
So, after some soul searching and planning and endless chats with loved ones, I decided to chase my dream to be a field guide. I went on the FGASA website and looked at all the training providers they had listed and came across many that offered different things and qualifications and I found Bushwise.
It was the most comprehensive course with all the qualifications I needed to get to my goal, so I researched and did many hours of homework on them and in my opinion, they seemed to be the best fit for me. I enrolled on the 23-week course and started saving every month for two years and waited patiently for my day to come. Finally, on the 8th of July 2017, I started the Professional Field Guide course with Bushwise.
It was such an amazing experience that taught me so much, not only about nature and the FGASA syllabus, but about myself and what it actually takes to be in this industry. There are lots of sacrifices to be made but ultimately if you have the passion and love for what you do it is all worth it. The trainers at Bushwise are absolutely amazing people that I think make the course what it is. They all have an unwavering passion and love for the bush and you can’t help but let it rub off on you and strive to be like them one day.
I finished the course in December and now I am working at a lodge called Senalala. Let me just say that I have never been happier in my life. This is only the start of my career and I have lots to learn and experience. Every day I wake up so excited to see what the day has in store for me. My future goal is to eventually get my Specialist Field Guide (previously known as FGASA Level 3) and Lead trails. For now, I just plan on gaining experience through guiding and will be doing my Back Up Trails practical assessment in the next few months and then starting my Advanced Field Guide (previously known as FGASA level 2) books.
My advice to anyone who is thinking of doing a course or is currently waiting for their adventure to start, is that; if this is what you want, let NOTHING stand in your way and give it all you’ve got. There is ALWAYS a plan to be made and if it means saving up for two years like me, you can do it, patience is key and it will pay off in the end. I live by the motto I once heard, do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. That’s exactly what I’m living right now and it’s amazing to say the least.
Good luck to all the future guides out there and chase your dreams fiercely!
Michelle Haveron and Calvin Selley
The birth of Selley Safaris
Michelle Haveron and Calvin Selley’ s story
Both attended the Bushwise Field Guide course in January 2017. Calvin and Michelle met during the course and have been together ever since. They had big plans for the future and it was always in the back of their minds.
Michelle – ‘I googled field guide courses and found Bushwise. I chose Bushwise because it was the most comprehensive and seemed to cover all aspects. I was looking for career in guiding and lodges and appreciated the support, before, during and after the course. I found the course to be extremely thorough. Once you commit (because it requires a lot of work) you can immerse yourself in the bush along with guiding and getting to know the environment and skills needed.
I did my placement at Africa on Foot and nThambo Tree Camp in Klaserie. I learnt so much in my time there, it was very eye opening to see how much work goes into the daily routine of running lodge. I learnt to do additional work and activities during the day that are needed over above being a guide. After my placement, I was offered a position as Management Couple at Chacma Bush Camp in the Balule and learnt all about FOH, F&B, staff management, general upkeep of the lodge and much more.
Calvin – ‘I also googled field guide courses in SA. I chose Bushwise because the website was very detailed and informative. I also visited the campus before confirming and once I was there, I decided it was for me. I loved the bush setting and the campus environment. The trainers have plenty of experience and share so much knowledge. I learnt allot from Trevor with the way he managed the campus staff, run and maintained the campus and how hard he was on students, even when we knew it was coming from a good place. I only saw the true value in this when I got into the working world. The excellent chemistry between the group of students was unexpected and made the experience very memorable.
I did my placement at Xanatseni Private Camp in Klaserie. I learnt so much about guiding, maintenance, lodge management, managing staff and was very grateful for my mentor there, Iwan Nel. I was later offered the position with Michelle at Chacma, to manage the camp, staff and guiding.’
Plans came together finally for Michelle and Calvin, by starting Selley Safaris with his father and brother. They specialise in safaris into the Kruger National Park, Lowveld day tours, and private transfers. For more information go to www.selleysafaris.com or find them on Facebook @selleysafaris
Philip Steel - Wait a Little, South Africa
I did the course in January 2011 and chose Bushwise as it was course that abled me to register with FGASA and train in the field and obtain a qualification that allowed me to work in the industry.
The 6 months I spent on the Course was the most inspirational, encouraging and engaging course I could ever have done. Our instructors at the time exceeded every aspect of knowledge and got all of us so inspired in all fields that we trained in. We had had an amazing group of fellow students to which most of us are still working in the industry and are still in contact with each other. It was a power team and could not have ask for a better group of incredible talented and diverse group of friends to have trained with.
My placement was with WAIT A LITTLE African big five horse safaris. Located in Karongwe Game Reserve. Still working here.
Having left high school at the age of Sixteen and having born and brought up on a farm in Zimbabwe. My life has always been surrounded by African bush. I have followed many paths of interest over the years. From wildlife orphanages, game capturing and relocations to taxidermy and working with Hunting out fitters both in Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The last few years before Bushwise was filming and editing hunting Safaris in Zimbabwe, Botswana and Tanzania. So, in short. I was a glorified cameraman for clients while they were on safari. This allowed me to go into areas where few get to go and get the frontline seat into some incredible wildlife areas and get to have the most outstanding experiences that no book can teach you.
The best part of my job is ability to interact and observe the wildlife in a whole new way. There is nothing more exhilarating then been close to lions on horse-back or being watched by a herd of Elephants. There is literally something every day while I am on that horse that really changes perspective on how I see the intricate networks of the everyday behaviour and social systems of the wildlife and the landscape we call home.
Robbie Mann - GVI, South Africa
I first heard of Bushwise whilst volunteering at Askari Wilderness Conservation Programme.
From there I searched online and found out more information from their website and social
I had only heard good things about the company and had met with past students who
subsequently have been employed in the wildlife industry. The website, staff and facilities that I
had come across all screamed professionalism.
After university, I found myself at the cross roads of whether to pursue further higher education
in the form of a Masters or PhD with my lifelong ambition of working in the bush. Instead I
realized that with Bushwise you have assurance of getting one foot in the door and an incredible
level of practical experience that in terms of employability outweighs any other academia.
The programme was split into manageable sections that not only covered the FGASA syllabus,
but additional aspects to working within bush that make you a more rounded individual in terms
of knowledge and practical skills.
The Trainers at Bushwise were everything you could ask for and more! They were there for
each student throughout the whole 6 months training period, 7 days a week and even at
unsociable hours when it came closer to exam periods.Campus living was fantastic especially
as we were surrounded by the very environment that we were being assessed upon. Having
dreamt of working in the bush since I was knee high, the Bushwise course was everything I had
hoped it would be and more!
Having successfully completed my Bushwise course, as well as attaining my Advanced Rifle
Handling qualification I was accepted on at Global Vision International, GVI. Prior to Bushwise I
completed a BSc (Hons) in Wildlife Biology and conducted field research at Askari, both of
which I could put into practice at GVI.
During my time placement, I was able to draw upon all the knowledge and field skills I was
taught at Bushwise to impress my colleagues enough to employ me as the Internship
Coordinator and Science Research Assistant.
In order to stay in this industry, you have to keep learning. The bush is an interactive
encyclopedia that is permanently at your disposal, and the moment you stop utilizing it is the
moment your career prospects start going backwards. My plan is to continue running the
internship programme offered by GVI, building on current and future innovative scientific
No matter what age, what stage in life or what field of work you have been in, Bushwise is the
most all-encompassing field guide training programme that has lived up to my every
On behalf of you all who are sat reading my testimonial hesitant to take that step into a new
career, I can honestly speak from experience that it is a decision you will simply never regret.