MORE Field Guide College provides students with the opportunity to connect with safari lodge operators to complete a six-month internship as part of their Career Course. Field Guide Larene Moolman shares her experience and how it all turned out.

While still at college, the Head and Assistant Head Guides from the MORE Family Collection lodges came to interview all the career students to assess who would be a good fit for their lodge. I sat across from Scott and Stöhm from Marataba Luxury Lodges, staring into faces that gave nothing away as I answered all their questions. After the interview and feeling rather daunted, I told my mother how it went: “It was like I was in a very fast car and the car was on fire. There is no way I will be going to Marataba.”

How wrong I was. Four weeks later I parked my car outside my accommodation. I had a new tent, with ensuite, all to myself. The deck of my tent overlooked the bush, and I felt like I was home.  We had one week of orientation where we spent time with all the different departments, helping where possible and learning how important a role each plays in the smooth running of the lodge. There is no such thing as a small job here.

My favourite bit of the internship was shadowing other guides, going on drives with them and watching how they interact with guests. Days were long and full, there was always something to do as an intern. Washing glasses, restocking, link outs, and more kept us busy throughout the day – and sometimes throughout the night. Some days were tough and I once had to pick up guests from Thabametsi Treehouse at one in the morning, was stalked by hyenas in the parking lot at two and had to go back to my car at three to pick up guests for an early departure from Mountain Lodge. Such is the learning process and there was always a guide who would chip in: “When I was an intern, I had to do (multiply whatever I was doing by two)” ?.  But I crept into my bed at night, listening to the sounds of the bush (hyenas cackling, elephants feeding, lions roaring and thunder) and I was happy.

Halfway through our internship, we were allowed to start taking guests out on drives, gaining real experience of what it is to be a field guide. The reward came six weeks later when sitting in the General Manager’s office and being told that all our hard work had paid off, and employment contracts just needed to be signed.

This is how I ended up working in one of the most remarkably beautiful places in this country, creating wonderful memories for the guests who come here for their Africa safari.  I recently mentioned to one of the guides that I would have liked to shadow all the guides to learn more – his words to me were: “Just do you.” Too true, the best guide you can be is yourself.

Words: Larene Moolman

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