On the 13th of July 2015, I followed my long awaited dream and started learning to become a field guide through the NJ MORE Field Guide College in the Marataba section of the Marakele National Park. I had signed up to do the 12 month course, which was 6 months at the college and a 6 month placement at one of the MORE Lodges before moving on to try and find a job in the guiding industry elsewhere.
I was really looking forward to spending 12 months in the bush, and the knowledge that we gained at the NJ MORE Field Guide College from our instructors was world class. After finishing my 6 months at the college, I had earned a number of other qualification as well as being qualified as a Level One Field Guide. Some of these qualifications included Tracks and Signs level 3; Backup Trails Guide; Wildlife Photography; Advanced Birding; Advanced Rifle Handling; and Snake Handling – among others.
During our last few weeks at the college, the Head Guide from Marataba Safari Lodge came and chatted to all the students about a position being available as a Field Guide at Marataba for any interested students. I was lucky enough to be selected from our group to possibly stand a chance of fulfilling that position, should I prove myself during our practical placement at the lodge.
I started my practical placement near the end of December 2015, and was lucky enough to get great mentorship from all the guides at Marataba Safari Lodge in my first few weeks. After a few assessment drives with some of the guides, I was fortunate enough to be able to help out and guide my first guests in February 2016 – just over two months after starting here with my placement. With continued mentorship, I have been guiding ever since and was finally offered a contract as a Field Guide at the end of March 2016. I have had the opportunity to live my dream as a guide at Marataba Safari Lodge, and have joined a great team of guides and other staff that are all proud to work under the MORE umbrella.
Words and images by Shaun Jenkinson