Building a career after Bushwise
Updated: Nov 13
The images in this article were taken pre-COVID-19.
BY: Tracey Bruton
This blog was written by Tracey, a graduate of Bushwise. Here, Tracey shares her career journey as a field guide after completing a course with Bushwise.
I was born in Makhanda, in the Eastern Cape in South Africa, and moved to Cape Town when I was 12. From a young age, I knew I wanted to work in nature because of my love for animals. But after finishing school, I decided to study film and television, and I worked in that industry for many years.
I never considered becoming a field guide until I started investigating my next steps after ending a TV contract and needing a change in my life. Field guiding seemed like such a male-dominated industry to me, so I didn’t think I could do it.
But then I came across the Bushwise website. I felt inspired to go for it, and applied to join a course. The Bushwise Professional Field Guide course looked like the right fit for me, and included everything I needed to get started as a guide. Even better – the course offers additional training, including Advanced Rifle Handling and first aid. South African students are also guaranteed employment after successfully completing the course.
My trainers – Charles, Conrad, Trevor, and Kobus – as well as the rest of the Bushwise trainers, were top-notch and highly experienced in bush knowledge. Each trainer had something different that added value to my experience at Bushwise.
The most valuable thing I learned at Bushwise: even though I’m a woman in a typically male-dominated industry, I’m fully capable of doing the job too! Whether it’s 4×4 driving, changing tyres, shooting a rifle, or leading bush walks, we’re equal in this industry.
The course and instructors also taught me the importance of being an ethical guide, treating animals and nature with respect at all times. I learned the importance of the smaller things in nature that are just as interesting and remarkable as the Big Five.
Once I completed the course, Bushwise assisted me in finding a work placement at Ivory Tree Game Lodge in Pilanesberg Nature Reserve. I left Bushwise with a lot of confidence in my theoretical and practical knowledge, having completed many hours of guiding with my fellow students and trainers during the course, so it wasn’t a difficult transition for me to start guiding.
After spending a year and a half in Pilanesberg, I guided in Botswana for a few months before moving to Tangala Safari Camp in Thornybush Nature Reserve. After that, I went to work for Kings Camp in Timbavati Nature Reserve before moving to my current role. I currently work at Thornybush Game Lodge and am very happy.
I am now a qualified FGASA Field Guide (NQF4) as well as a FGASA Professional Trails Guide, and I’m working towards my FGASA Specialist Field Guide qualification. Getting my trails guiding qualification was a long and tough process, especially when finding colleagues willing to walk with me so I could gain practical hours and encounters. But I kept going and finally became qualified after many years!
I hope to continue gaining as much knowledge about the bush as I can to become the best guide I can be. I also wish to continue being a custodian of nature by teaching my guests the importance of conserving nature and helping with conservation initiatives.
The Bushwise Field Guide courses are an excellent starting point for aspiring guides. You can rest assured you’ll get all you need to excel in your field guiding career – from basic knowledge on all aspects of guiding, to gaining certifications and qualifications. You’ll also build confidence in your guiding abilities and this will be instrumental during your first work placement following the course.
So what are you waiting for? Jump into new challenges and experiences like Tracey, by becoming a field guide.
Did this blog speak to you? Have you always wanted to work with animals – but aren’t sure how? Get started with jobs working with animals.