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  • Writer's pictureBushwise Student

A Long Time Coming: My move from the UK to South Africa

Updated: Nov 2, 2023

This blog was written by UK student Alex Denney, on our Bushwise Professional Field Guide course. Each week, Bushwise students take turns as camp manager to experience what it’s like to run a lodge or a team. Writing a blog is part of that process.

4 min read

My Bushwise journey starts all the way back in 2011 

The author Alex and his partner Emily while traveling in Thailand before joining Bushwise Field Guides.

I’m from the UK and back then I was just about to sit my A-Levels and decide what degree I wanted to do at university. I had been torn between the idea of an Astrophysics or a Zoology degree as I am fascinated by both these subjects. However, when I realised Astrophysics wasn’t just looking through a telescope but in fact it was pretty much pure math, I decided on Zoology, and to investigate my passions within that topic such as wildlife, conservation, and the natural world. 

During my degree search I investigated the type of careers it could lead to and during one extensive google search I happened to click on the Bushwise website. I was immediately intrigued; I had visited South Africa the year before as part of a volunteer trip to work on a Brown Hyena conservation project and had fallen in love with the landscapes and wildlife. I always knew I was going to go back one day, and now here was a webpage telling me about a company that could train me to work in the bush of South Africa, I was hooked. 

At this point I was already set on going to university so I decided I would join Bushwise afterwards, so I bookmarked the Bushwise homepage and went about the rest of my day. Little did I know that there it would sit at the top of my bookmark bar for almost ten years! 

Destined to always be a daydream?

An image taken by the author of a white lion partially obscured by a bush, in South Africa. 

I never forgot about it however, it was always there whenever I turned my computer on, and always in the back of my mind. So much so that barely a few months into dating the person who would become my life partner, I told her about it and how amazing it would be. She was unsure at first, after all she had done a degree in law not some wildlife or zoology course like me, but after many years together travelling the world and doing odd jobs here and there, we decided that Bushwise was where we wanted to be. 

Fast forward to late 2020 and we had finally got enough funds together to go. We had an exciting video call with Kim, the Bushwise recruiter, where she explained all the finer details to us and what to expect when we arrived and pretty much straight after that we booked on and paid our deposits. We decided to Join Bushwise in 2023 to give us more time to save up some extra money to live on, but this was it, it was real, we were finally going to live and work in the African bush! 

Finally it’s my reality

A journey of giraffes in the South African savannah. 

Here in the present as I write this, we are going through our third week at Bushwise. We have been spoilt with sightings and the natural beauty of the Kruger area is just mind blowing. When the sun sets it goes down behind the Drakensberg mountains which leads to some fantastic sunsets. Life on the campus is great fun, we are the largest group Bushwise has had, 30 students! So, there is always plenty of stuff going on.

The role of camp manager isn’t too strenuous, the only hard part is having to get up extra early to unlock the kitchen and turn the kettle on so there is hot water for everyone’s coffee. With 30 sleepy students waking up at 5am it would be an absolute disaster if there was no coffee!

At the moment a lot of our time is spent revising and going over our notes from the lectures and modules in the textbooks, this isn’t a holiday after all but a full-on course to get us qualified and into a career, and on Saturday we have our first Bushwise exam. However, we do still have plenty of downtime to relax and enjoy this experience. 

Not your typical office!

To be honest though you can hardly call it working when we are going on game drives twice a day where we get to spend time with three young male lions including an incredibly rare white lion, watch a pair of cheetahs stalking a herd of impala, see an elephant taking a mud bath, and have a pack of 17 wild dogs run around our vehicles. This definitely beats sitting in an office and staring at a computer screen with a mountain of paperwork. 

So far, I’m enjoying every minute of my time here at Bushwise and I’m sure I will enjoy every minute to come. I still can’t quite believe I am actually finally here after so long, but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. 

No matter where you’re from or what your background is, you can do a Bushwise course. Learn about the different wildlife jobs you could follow.




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