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Work on a safari in Africa

Going on safari is one of the most incredible, eye-opening experiences a person can have in life. Seeing wild animals in their natural habitats, being awe-struck by the movement of a leopard through the grass, or the interaction between two elephants is the ultimate vacation. But what if it could be more than a vacation? 

What if you could work on a safari in Africa? 

A few Bushwise students and one of their trainers, all listening intently to someone conducting a lesson.

Imagine going to work every day, and feeling like you never work a day in your life. If you truly love what you do for a living, this is possible. That’s what it’s like working on a safari in Africa – each day is spent in the bush, observing wildlife, sharing your knowledge with guests, and conducting guided tours. 

It takes dedication of course, but if you’re passionate about nature, it might just be the career path for you.

What’s the best safari job?

A group of Bushwise students who are training to work on safari in Africa, standing and kneeling in front of a game viewer, all smiling towards the camera. They’re all wearing their khaki Bushwise uniforms.

The most common job in this industry is safari guide (also called field guide in southern Africa). Safari guides are ambassadors of the natural world. They’re the first point of contact between humans and nature, using their specialised knowledge and training to interpret their surroundings for their guests. 

What it’s like to work on a safari

Wake up every day before the sun rises, and take in the fresh morning air. As the nocturnal animals hide away, the rest of the bush comes alive around you. Birds begin their morning chorus as a soft light illuminates the landscape. 

Two people on a game viewer, looking towards a giraffe in the distance. The giraffe is in focus and the two people are blurred.

Meet your guests at the lodge for coffee and snacks before heading out on a morning activity, usually a game drive. You’ll spend 3-4 hours looking for animals and exploring the reserve. Back at the lodge, your guests will enjoy some downtime while you take care of other duties, like paperwork or transferring guests to and from the airport. 

By mid afternoon – usually between 3 or 4pm –  head back out for an evening activity. Pause for sundowners by the road, setting up a table with drinks and snacks for your guests. Sunset in the African savannah is beyond compare, with watercolour shades painting the sky and sounds of the bush coming alive. 

End the day with a night drive back to the lodge, where your guests will freshen up for dinner. Usually you will host them at dinner, enjoying further conversation and storytelling into the night. It’s all in a day’s work as a safari guide!

How do I become a safari guide? 

A Bushwise safari guide student stands in front of his guests, explaining something with his arms outstretched.

Becoming a safari guide requires a fair bit of studying and training. Most countries have strict licensing and qualification requirements to enter the industry. For example, in South Africa, you must be a qualified Nature Site Guide (NQF2) with CATHSSETA and registered in your guiding region with the National Department of Tourism. 

Most guides nowadays get their NQF2 through FGASA, the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa. This is also called Apprentice Field Guide (formerly Level 1). The best way to ensure you get all the correct qualifications is to go through an accredited and endorsed training provider, like Bushwise Field Guides.

Do you want to work on a safari? It’s possible. No matter where you’re from, if you’re 18 years and older, you can train to become a field guide. Apply for a Bushwise course today!

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.

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