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Get to know the Bushwise trainers

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

Having trained and worked as guides within the Lodge industry, our current trainers have built a name for themselves and have a good reputation in the small and close nit industry. It is well known that our trainers are professional, passionate and knowledgeable and collectively have over 40 years of combined experience that enabled Bushwise Field Guides to be the Leaders in the training of aspirant field guides.

Ben Coley, our Head Trainer knew from a young age that he was destined to work with African animals. Whilst his friends were happy playing football in the inevitable English rain, he was quite happy listening to legend that is David Attenborough discuss the migratory habits of wildebeest and the like!

Eventually he could follow his childhood dream and boarded a plane to visit Africa for the first time as a student of Bushwise field guides in 2007. Upon graduation, he was immersed into the guiding world and fell in love with the African bush.

Over the next 8 years he was fortunate enough to work at some of the top lodges in the country and even a year in Tanzania, experiencing some of the best game viewing that Africa had to offer. What he learnt more than anything else was that sharing these experiences was the most rewarding part of the job. To be a part of someone’s life changing experience is a special moment. As well as the responsibility of educating the next generation in the importance of the natural world and the role we can all play in its protection.

Over the years, he developed a passion for birds and astronomy to go along with what has been described by many as his leopard obsession!

Fast forward 10 years and as a level 3 lead trails guide he now loves to share the knowledge and experience he has gained with like-minded individuals looking to embark on a similar path as he once did.

Bushwise trainer Ben Coley with two students studying track and sign.

Trevor Myburgh, our Senior Trainer, having enough of the corporate world and his materialistic existence, decided to make a lifestyle change and completed a Field guiding course like the one that Bushwise offers and became hooked on the outdoor way of life. Starting out as a junior guide in the Waterberg area, Trevor began exploring various other avenues within the guiding industry to become an all-rounder insofar as working amongst other positions, as an overland tour guide, Senior and Head ranger at well-known 5* Lodges, completing a stint heading up an Anti-poaching unit, managing a couple of Lodges, as well as spending time as a reserve manager in the Lowveld area. With these skill sets and experiences, he decided he would like to impart these to aspirant Field Guides, and when the position for a Trainer at Bushwise Field Guides presented itself, Trevor grabbed the opportunity with both hands, and has never looked back since.

Trevor 2

Vaughan Jessnitz, has been part of the tourism industry for the last 10 years, guiding and managing camps throughout South Africa, although focusing more on the Greater Kruger National Park. Alongside his career he is also involved in various conservation and research projects specializing in entomology and bio-diversity mapping throughout South Africa. He started working for legend lodges as a field guide, followed by a few camps as head ranger and ended up running a small luxury safari camp in the greater Kruger. Alongside his career in the lodge industry he is also involved in various conservation and research projects specializing in entomology and bio-diversity mapping throughout South Africa. Vaughan joined Bushwise in 2016 and is enjoying every moment of teaching students and sharing his vast knowledge.

In 2002 he was awarded the Derik Grey Award for his research project focusing on using certain species of butterflies and beetles as biological indicators, and represented South Africa at the SIIRS conferences in Stockholm Sweden. Since then he has made many contributions towards insect research and has a deep passion for entomology.

Vaughan 1

Gerhard van Niekerk, decided that after around 16 years in the corporate rat race that he wanted to get out of it. Dealing with financial and insurance contracts no longer floated his boat. He remembered that as a young boy he wanted to become a game warden or wildlife manager, however he couldn’t just leave his job and financial commitments to follow a full-time diploma or degree. This is when he came across field guiding training courses and the possibility to do it part time and then he could do practical sessions over weekends. This worked out perfectly for him and 1 year later he passed his Level 1 Guiding course with distinction.

During that year, he realised that not only would he love guiding guests in natural environments but he also realised that training would be his goal in this industry. He set out to do his trails guiding course and got that qualification behind him. He then worked as a freelance trails guide in various parks to eventually get his lead guide qualification. He knew he had to get at least level 2 with 5 years of guiding experience before he could start teaching so he had his goals laid out to follow for a few years.

After attaining his FGASA level 2 and has 5 years of guiding experience, he was lucky enough to find a vacancy at a very well established training institution in the Lowveld. He trained guides there for 2 years after which an opportunity presented itself at Bushwise which he accepted gladly.

Gerhard 2

And so, our team goes on to inspire, teach and mentor our students while realizing their dreams. Ultimately the greatest feeling of pride for the Bushwise Trainers is seeing the growth of the students when they arrive at the start of the course, to then becoming full-fledged guides who go on to develop their guiding & wildlife careers even further. Knowing that we had a small part to play in their life as guides makes our jobs definitely worth it!

Meet our growing team here.

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