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Joining Bushwise as a couple

This blog was written by Emily Cowling, who’s attending Bushwise along with her partner Alexander Denney. As a couple, they’re training to become field guides before entering this exciting industry! Read about what inspired them to make this journey together.

4 min read

It was close to ten years ago when I first heard the word ‘Bushwise’, and it was being said to me by the person I had recently started dating. 

“Bushwise, what’s that?” I asked, never expecting the answer to be so interesting and so exciting. A chance for adventure, a chance to meet people from all around the world, a chance to get new skills, and a chance to help change the world for the better. 

It sounded thrilling and although we wanted to leave immediately, we knew it was not possible. We were penniless young students working our way towards our degrees. The dream was put into a box and quickly began to gather dust. 

Our wildest adventure yet

Emily and Alex, the couple featured in this blog, swimming in the ocean with a sea turtle. Their adventures took them all over and eventually brought them together to Bushwise. 

Seven years later, the topic arose again. It had cropped up now and then throughout our years together but never in a realistic or achievable way. But this time, now over two years ago, we finally began to see the dream as a possibility and it began to take shape. 

Despite the excitement and possibilities, I had some reservations. The main one was the fact that it seemed as though if I pursued this dream, I would then have to be apart from the person that I had barely spent a night away from in the past ten years, my other half, my best friend. Even if we went together, I imagined we would have to stay in separate tents, maybe even separate campuses, and then when attending placements, spend a full 6 months apart. I didn’t even know if we would both get accepted which opened up the possibility of spending a year on different continents. There was no denying that the idea filled me with dread but we both really wanted to do it so we went ahead and sent an inquiry. 

Barely a day later, we received a response and all of our earlier reservations flew out of the window. We could attend as a couple, we could be housed together and, most importantly, we could be placed together on our placement. 

But could we do Bushwise together?

The couple featured in this blog smile together in an area with beautiful sand dunes. This couple loves to adventure together, including Bushwise!

A week later we had booked! We were going to Bushwise, albeit in two years’ time. It didn’t matter to us, the dream was on the horizon, and we were going to be doing it together. 

The time flew by in a flash and two weeks ago, we arrived in South Africa, hand in hand, nervous but encouraged by each other. Despite the gruelling trip, we were here, together, and life in the bush began. 

I had feared that maybe all of the things I was told about us being allowed to stay together may have been half-truths or even lies to get us here, but this couldn’t have been farther from the truth. 

From the start, we were treated as a unit as well as individuals, an odd thing to say considering these are antonyms. What I mean is we were housed together, placed next to each other in the classroom, and often spoken about as if we were one entity. And yet, we were also individuals in the sense that we were given separate tasks, sent on different game drives and, generally given some space to be apart, a definite positive in that it allowed us time away from each other should any tiffs arise. It also allowed us to meet back up at the end of the day, excited to see each other and discuss all of the different things we had seen and learned. 

The best decision we could have made!


A couple from the UK smile at the camera. These two individuals joined Bushwise Field Guides for a 6-month long safari guide training course.

The opportunity to be here with my partner has been nothing short of amazing, living a dream together. I have a best friend, a study partner, a person to cry on when things get tough, and a general sounding board. 

To anyone considering whether or not this experience could be done with a partner, I would say absolutely but perhaps with one caveat. It isn’t an experience to enter lightly. And maybe not one to begin with a new partner or someone you don’t know if you can live with because you will be spending a lot of time together and sometimes under many different pressures. It is something to consider. 

For me, living out my dream with the person I love has made the experience even better. Spending the evening chatting about the exciting new things that we learned, finding interesting ways to study, meeting new people at every mealtime, and watching the stars every night before settling down together to listen to the sounds of the bush. What could be better than that? 

Did you know you can book a Bushwise course with your partner? Imagine having this life-changing experience together! Contact us to find out more. 

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