Safari Guide of the Year 2021…the finalists.

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"Cherish times like these. They are very special and the opportunity for guides to compete for themselves does not come around very often. Make this a week to remember and one that you can look back on in years to come as a very special time where knowledge was shared and bonds were formed. Just be you." Mike Karantonis, Co-Owner at Africa Direct and founder of Safari Guide of the Year.

 

 

Finally, Riaan gets to hand over the trophy after being both the 2019 winner and, by ‘default’, the 2020 winner thanks to COVID-19 lockdown protocols…

 

 

And the 10th Anniversary celebrations get to take place…a year later than planned.

 

 

The NJ More Field Guide College will once again play host to the finalists, the judging panel as well as the media contingent. The camp is set in the stunning Waterberg region and makes it a level playing ground for all the nominees this year.

 

 

Safari Guide of the Year 2021, Finalist Togara Charingira: TJ , a guide at Royal Madikwe Safari Lodge, has been guiding for 10 years. He trained with various people and training providers, namely Nightjar, Lowveld Trails Company, African Bush Company, Beat about the Bush, and Cameron Pierce.

What has FGASA done for you in terms of qualifications and achievements?
“FGASA has been an amazing journey of learning, gaining valuable training and qualifications. It has changed my life!”

What is the best thing about being a guide?
“The best thing about being a guide is sharing my knowledge with my guests.”

What is your greatest personal strength?
“I am a people person who enjoys spending time with my guests and I have a love for track and sign.”

 

 

Being a field guide is NOT only about iconic or dangerous game species. It is about giving your guests an immersive experience that will last them for a lifetime.

 

 

Safari Guide of the Year 2021, Finalist Wayne Howarth.
Wayne, a guide at Kariega Game Reserve, has been guiding for 11 years.

What has FGASA done for you in terms of qualifications and achievements? “FGASA has helped me and my guiding become more professional, they set a high standard for field guides to follow which is great, being selected for SGOTY has been a great achievement for me which has been made possible by FGASA!”

What is the best thing about being a guide?
“Being in the bush on a game drive and being able to give your guests a once in a lifetime experience, it can be extremely rewarding to get feedback from these guests on how much of a life-changing experience it was for them.”

What is your greatest personal strength?
“I think the passion and love I have for guiding and the bush is my greatest strength.”

 

 

Just in case.

 

 

Safari Guide of the Year 2021, Finalist Mike Medlinger.
Mike is a guide at More Family Collection and has been guiding for 16 years.

What has FGASA done for you in terms of qualifications and achievements?

“FGASA has offered a platform within which to enroll and improve me, not just within one specific field but in all aspects of the natural world. Having progressed through Apprentice and Field Guide, Trails Guide, and on to the level of Professional Guide alongside the merit badges that are SKS Birds, National Bird Specialist, and SKS Astronomy, FGASA has allowed me to continually better myself throughout my career.”

What is the best thing about being a guide?
“The best thing about being a guide, wow, this is both a tough question and an easy one. There are many aspects to being a guide that are fantastic; the exciting lifestyle, the beautiful dawns, and sunsets, the jovial atmosphere around the campfire to name but a few. For me, the best thing about being a guide is being able to form and share moments with your guests. What do I mean by moments? Moments are memories in time that both you and certainly they will never forget, it could be a breath of the wind through the grass while sitting silently with elephants or the cough of a leopard with a pre-dawn coffee. It can be the first lazy lion sighting while on honeymoon, or the final sundowner on the last “big trip” with grandparents. Each safari is punctuated by many many moments making those few days spent in the bush seem both swift and yet, at the same time, incredibly slow. The ability and privilege to help create memories and moments that will last a lifetime. That is the wonder of being a guide.”

What is your greatest personal strength?

“My greatest asset my sense of humour, witty and a little cheeky at times. This and perhaps my work ethic, drive to always give more, to do more to benefit the experience of others whether it be midday bushwalks, late-night astrophotography, insect presentations or kids activities and others that make time in the bush more memorable.”

 

 

On the march…Hissing Ants as well as the contestants prepare for a bushwalk.

 

 

Safari Guide of the Year 2021, Finalist Civilized Ngwenya.
Civilized is a guide at Tanda Tula, has been guiding for 12 years.

What has FGASA done for you in terms of qualifications and achievements?
“Through FGASA I have achieved FGASA Field Guide and Trails Guide Qualification. This has inspired me to learn and keep growing in the field of guiding. It played an important role in me having a long-term career and encouraged me to help others who want to grow as Field Guides and Trackers who want to become guides.”

What is the best thing about being a guide?
“Being a guide is doing something that I like and have passionate about for a living. Willing to share knowledge and experience with the others.”

What is your greatest personal strength?
“I think I have the ability to make people feel comfortable and safe around me. Respect and willing to help where help is needed.”

 

 

I do hope that the finalists do not get tangled up in one of these while out on their assessment walk!

 

 

Safari Guide of the Year 2021, Finalist Shaun D’Araujo.  Shaun, a guide at Londolozi, started out as an apprentice guide and student 16 years ago in the Sabi Sands but has been actively guiding full time for the past seven years. Shaun completed a Diploma in Nature Guiding through Damelin and EcoTraining in 2007 and completed the Londolozi guide training course in 2015.

What has FGASA done for you in terms of qualifications and achievements?
“In the process of attaining my Specialist Field Guide and Trails Guide qualifications, FGASA has helped me gain knowledge about what is most important to me. FGASA has helped me improve myself as a guide, by helping me to set tangible goals. Achieving these qualifications is challenging and rewarding and inspires me to do more.”

What is the best thing about being a guide?
“For me personally, the best thing about being a guide is to be able to live in wilderness areas, amongst wildlife every day and to be able to share this with people who travel from afar to experience it themselves.”

What is your greatest personal strength?
“I feel that my greatest personal strength is empathy and the ability to try and understand people beyond surface level.”

 

 

Can YOU identify the bird that this feather comes from? No? Well, our finalists MIGHT just be asked that question…

 

 

Wishing all the finalists the best of luck for the upcoming event. May each of you be humble in your approach, generous with your knowledge, and build bonds over the course of the competition that will last for many years to come…