We feature Kimberley Pierce (Jersey, UK) one of our very first alumni, who completed her course in January 2006.
This is her story.
My mum, who grew up in Zimbabwe, introduced me to Southern Africa early on in my childhood. It was love at first sight. Determined to gobble up all the knowledge I could about The Continent, I discovered the Big Cat Diary Show which was shot in the Masai Mara region of Kenya. Soon all I dreamt about was of one day living in Africa.
After completing high school, I knew the path of traditional tertiary education was not for me. I considered my options and eventually found the Bushwise course online. It seemed like an incredible opportunity to learn about the natural world, while also being immersed in the safari environments of Africa, so I decided to sign up.
This decision led to some of the best times of my life. I was only 20 when I started, and became a part of the most incredible group of people from all over the world (with ages ranging up to the mid-50’s) – eager and dedicated to making the most of our time there. Our trainers were fantastic, incredibly knowledgeable and patient; and we had such a great balance of training and learning, mixed in with a whole lot of fun.
I was able to do my placement at Ezulwini Camps in the Balule Game Reserve after completing the course. And after my placement, I secured a full-time job and carried on working there.
A few years later, I returned home (UK) briefly and worked for the Durrell Conservation Trust before finally relocating to Kenya, which had always been my long term goal.
In Kenya, I retook the local guiding qualifications and then guided and managed at the following places:
- Satao Elerai in Amboseli
- Nairobi Tented Camp in Nairobi National Park
- Naibor in the Masai Mara
- Mahali Mzuri, Richard Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition, a property in the Greater Mara.
After spending 10 years in Africa, I headed back home where I founded and have been running my own travel business with a specialisation in African safaris.
The advice I would give to others wanting to become a Field Guide?
There is so much that goes into being a good guide, but great guides are the ones who find their niche and passion within the industry and are able to communicate well with their clients.
A great guide can take their clients on a 3-hour game drive, get stuck in the mud for half the time, barely see a thing, but the clients still come back laughing and having had an unforgettable experience.
Make sure your personality shines through and do not get too worried about not knowing every detail; as your experience grows so will your stories and insight into the incredible world of safaris. And always make sure you have your cooler box well stocked! You can get away with any eventualities if there’s a cold G&T on hand for the clients. (Hint hint!)
I have been working on developing my own safari itineraries, and in 2021 will start taking groups from the UK out for high-end Private Flying Safaris around East Africa. I plan to continue growing my travel business with the hopes that one day that I will be self-sufficient and can put most of my time into guiding group travel around Africa.
Bushwise gave me the platform to enter into an incomparable 10-year career in the safari business. The lessons I learned from my time in the bush, the animal encounters, the tribes I have lived alongside, and most of all – the incredible people I have been lucky enough to work with – have shaped my life. I feel so grateful and privileged to have truly LIVED(and I’m only 34!).
So, if you have the opportunity – go for it. Even if it does not turn into your career, you will learn valuable lessons that will stay with you for life.