Off-roading in the bush – and in life

Off-roading in the bush – and in life

Leaving the fast-paced life of the German autobahn behind, Bushwise student Marc Weber discusses slowing down and off-roading in the African bush. 

Camp manager blogs are written by our current students who each get a chance to lead and manage a group (of their fellow students) for a period of one week.

As a stereotypical German, I enjoy driving on the autobahn with the goal of reaching my destination as fast as possible. I adapted this behaviour beyond the road and into my everyday life. I sped through my studies and quickly landed a good job with a nice income. But after finally reaching that goal, I realised that even though I had a well-paid job, I didn’t even like the street of life I was driving on.

A Bushwise student contemplating the value of off-roading

This awareness made me change lanes, which ultimately led me to a game farm in Namibia where I experienced my first safari. There I learned that the Swahili word safari means “journey”, which reminded me of a famous quote by Confucius. He once said that one’s path is not about the destination, but about the journey and experiences along the way.

Although my final destination is yet unclear, my path is currently winding through the field guide course with Bushwise in South Africa. Through theoretical lectures I am learning about the miracles of nature, to best understand what’s happening around me and to be able to share that consciousness with future guests. This knowledge is directly put to the test during daily game drives in the bush. These off-roading drives are unpredictable as you never know what you might happen upon.

Students in an off-roading game drive vehicle

For this reason, it is important to be equipped with a broad knowledge about the flora and fauna as well as the animal life specific to this region. Beyond this, it is crucial to be ready for any unexpected occurrences, such as dealing with a flat tyre with lions nearby, or giving first aid to a guest with a snake or insect bite. Specialists regularly visit Bushwise to give guest lectures, further strengthening the foundation of knowledge which the future field guides will require out in the bush. 

In addition to the lectures and game drives, students are each required at one time during the course to be camp managers. During my week as a camp manager, we had 4×4 and off-roading theoretical lessons in addition to our regular lessons. This was directly followed by practical application in the field. My instinct to drive and get to my destination as quickly as possible was of no use here. We were taught how to stop a vehicle in the case of a sighting so that all the guests can be participants and observers. We also learned safety procedures, such as how to tow a stranded vehicle. These lessons allow the field guides to maneuver guests safely through the bush, even in places where there are no roads to follow.

Bushwise students checking tracks in the road, all part of the off-roading adventure!

Roads are only present because someone has driven them in advance. First and foremost, this means somebody physically drove there before, creating the road itself. But furthermore, more and more people chose that path. Which in nature can make things more predictable because wildlife can adapt to the roads, with high chances of them avoiding the streets and the loud game viewers in favour or being undisturbed. In my opinion, one of the best sightings we had (two cheetah brothers) wasn´t in the car driving on the usual roads, but during a trail walk in the bush.

And just as when off-roading, in life you never know what to expect – again it’s about the journey and the experience itself. You see that sometimes the obvious streets are just the paths most people took. It does not necessarily make this the right one for you. Learn that even if you’re stuck there’s always a way out, but admit that sometimes you will need help from others. 

Therefore, enjoy the journey as it’s happening, without worrying about the destination. And be adventurous enough to not use the worn-out streets, because sometimes the best sightings are off the road. 

Slow down and enjoy the journey like Marc. Apply today and start your career journey on the road less traveled.