From field guide to field guide trainer

From field guide to field guide trainer

Bushwise trainer Wayne Lubbe is based at our Mahlahla campus, near the Greater Makalali Game Reserve. In this post he tells his story of growing from a field guide himself, into the field guide trainer he is today!

Author Wayne Lubbe sits in a game viewer with students from a Bushwise course.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had this internal desire to be close to nature. So back in 2010 I traded my office job in Johannesburg to pursue a job with ever-changing sunrises and sunsets. I enrolled in a field guide training course with a training company in the northern-most parts of KwaZulu Natal, a province of South Africa. 

My training was divided into six months of theory-based training and six months of practical training. My time there was full of adventures and countless hours of learning about the African fauna and flora, which is the same as what Bushwise students experience now. After completing my studies in 2011, I got an opportunity to work as an apprentice guide on a private game reserve just outside Hoedspruit called Kapama

Wayne in his earlier years as a field guide at Kapama, looking fresh shaven!

On this reserve, I learnt to lead and guide guests, and to see things through the guests’ eyes. This was done in open game viewers and on foot as a back-up trails guide. I loved working in nature and exploring the great outdoors. I’ve managed to find and live out my passion as a true nature ambassador.

After five years, my time on Kapama came to an end. I wanted to explore the industry a bit and got an opportunity to work as trails guide at Elephants Plains in the Sabi Sands game reserve. There, I focused mainly on walks, and exploring the fauna and flora with guests on foot. I very quickly had plenty of animal encounters and countless hours on foot as a walking guide. This was also when I discovered a hidden passion for wildlife photography, and soon I purchased my very first DSLR camera.

Wayne drives a game viewer in the African bush.

In 2017, I changed locations and worked at Madikwe in Northwest Province on South Africa’s border with Botswana. At Madikwe, I worked as a field guide, trails guide, and later as an intern guide trainer and mentor for young field guides doing their practical training. My purpose was to develop interns so that they have a vast knowledge of the environment, and are driven by a passion for guiding. I was dedicated to teaching young people about our extraordinary natural heritage and inspiring the students to do their part to protect it. 

It was also at Madikwe Safari Lodge that I met Byron Ross, field guide trainer, who did our mentorship training with his company. Byron’s influence on me was instrumental; he is a true mentor and someone I will always look up to and aspire to be like.

After 11 years of guiding, I decided to focus my attention on the training of field guides on a full-time basis with an opportunity that was presented to me by Bushwise. I joined the team in February 2022, as a field guide trainer. 

As a field guide trainer Wayne leads a group of visitors on a bush walk. 

Bushwise supports the professional growth of its trainers, and so I began studying to write my professional field guide exam and to register for my professional trails guiding qualification. I was also determined to get my SKS (Birding) qualification as I am a passionate and keen birder. My purpose at Bushwise is to share my knowledge and experience that I have acquired over the past decade with students young and old, and to help each of them to find their individual niche in this extraordinary field.

It is still early days for me as a trainer, but the days have been full of adventures since joining Bushwise. I honestly love being able to see the joy and personal growth from each of the different students as they live the campus life to the full, just as I did from my training days.

Train with the best of the best, like Bushwise trainer Wayne on our Mahlahla campus, or at our Greater Kruger campus. Apply today and start your field guide career.