Safari Guide of the Year 2022 – what sets them apart, brings them together

Safari Guide of the Year 2022 – what sets them apart, brings them together

At Bushwise, we can’t hold back our excitement for Safari Guide of the Year 2022. We’re excited because we’re hosting this year’s prestigious event in the Greater Kruger National Park. We’re also excited because one of our very own trainers, Nico Brits, is one of the top five finalists for this award. But mostly, we’re excited to celebrate the gold standard of safari guides in southern Africa, amongst friends and colleagues.

This year’s event is fast approaching. From 27 June to 3 July, five incredible field guides will compete for the impressive title, and the winner will carry this badge of honour for their entire career. But Safari Guide of the Year (SGOTY) isn’t just a competition. It’s also an opportunity to highlight the camaraderie in the industry, to recognise exceptional guides, and to bring key role players together for one memorable week each year. 

A Bushwise students looks excitedly at the camera while another looks towards the bush.

Bushwise is host sponsor

As a field guide training provider, Bushwise is specially positioned to host this year’s event. According to FGASA’s Managing Director, Michelle du Plessis, Bushwise meets the gold standard for field guide training. We have a students-at-heart policy – that is, we develop our training programs around each individual student, educating and mentoring them to become the best guides they can be. We’re also bringing SGOTY back to the true home of field guiding, here in the Greater Kruger National Park. 

Just as each SGOTY finalist has reflected on their mentors and training providers as catalysts in their career, Bushwise understands the importance of nurturing future leaders in this industry. We are laying the foundations and standards for aspiring field guides to become ultimate field guides – and we hope they will see this competition as inspiration for the future!

Nico Brits is a finalist for Safari Guide of the Year 2022

Who are the Safari Guide of the Year 2022 finalists?

Let’s take a look at the five finalists for SGOTY 2022. But first, how are they chosen? In the first few months of the year nominations are sent to FGASA. Once nominations close, a panel of judges determines the top five candidates. These individuals must meet certain criteria (although they always exceed expectations). This year FGASA received an impressive number of nominations, which shows how excited the industry is for this event. 

Just by being nominated, the five finalists join the ranks of other world-class FGASA-trained field guides. This year’s top five are (in alphabetical order):

In the weeks since their nominations were announced, each individual has been interviewed, photographed and filmed. On the Bushwise campus, Nico is certainly a celebrity. Even though SGOTY is a competition, all five finalists are excited to meet their fellow guides, as well as the past winners, judges and guests, and to showcase their knowledge and skills. 

Bushwise students are excited for Safari Guide of the Year!

What sets them apart, brings them together

SGOTY has been running for 11 years, bringing five top-brass field guides together. What sets them apart from the rest? The most successful field guides are passionate, knowledgeable and excellent communicators. Their love for their job is evident in the way they carry themselves, share their knowledge and create memorable experiences for their guests.

Just as with any career, there are different trajectories they may have taken. They could have specialised in a certain skill set (such as birding, dangerous game, or trails guiding), worked in numerous countries (like Botswana, Namibia and South Africa), started their own company, or risen to the top tier at a lodge. 

A Bushwise student uses a guide book to identify a bird.

What is consistent is that SGOTY finalists have gained years of valuable knowledge and experience that meets the gold standard of FGASA guiding. For one week they come together and showcase these skills, and while they’re competing against each other they’re also sharing experiences. They’ll go on game drives, lead bush walks, guide photographic safaris, host guests, tell stories, exhibit their shooting and track and sign skills, and identify birds. These competitions showcase exactly what it takes to be a professional in this industry.

SGOTY isn’t just about being the best – it’s about coming together with the best. It’s one week where leaders in the industry celebrate everything a successful field guide can be. That’s why Bushwise is so thrilled to be the 2022 host. We aspire to train field guides to become the best they can be. To provide them with the foundational knowledge and experience they need to launch their careers. 

As SGOTY 2022 approaches, we’re excited to see what the five finalists bring to the table. We have no doubt this year’s event will be a memorable one. We also hope this event helps inspire future guides to take the leap and start their careers.

Just imagine – one day, you too could be competing for the illustrious title of Safari Guide of the Year!