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A week in the wild: being camp manager at Bushwise

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

This blog was written by Darian de Bruin, Bushwise Professional Field Guide student. Each week, Bushwise students take turns as camp manager to experience what it’s like to run a lodge or a team. Writing a blog is part of that process.

4 min read

Arriving back at Bushwise on Sunday with my car full of students who I picked up from O.R Tambo. We were all excited to be back and couldn’t wait to see our newly made friends again. 

We started off Monday morning with lectures about amphibians, fish and arthropods. After Monday, we carried on with the week schedule as normal with drives. Tuesday afternoon was my turn to drive and give a guided experience to my fellow students. I was feeling so many emotions – the nerves were getting to me, but I was also really excited to start the drive. 

Practicing my grass identification skills


A group of Bushwise students identifying different grass species in the African bushveld.

During my drive, Mr Pines gave me a challenge to ID 10 different grasses. Unfortunately, I only reached nine, but he was still very impressed because we only looked for grasses in one spot. I was lucky enough to experience one of the Big 5 – a pride of lions. Unfortunately, the sighting was very short because there were already three vehicles at the sighting, but I really enjoyed stopping and talking about the lions for the brief time we were with them.

Wednesday morning we were all ready for the drive. About 15 minutes after arriving at Makalali, a cold rain hit us – but the rain didn’t stop us and we carried on with our drive. We stopped for a coffee break when it stopped raining. This would have been a good idea, but once Brandon had finished setting up, the clouds decided it was time for us to get soaked. 

Having coffee in the rain was a pleasant experience because in a way you have bottomless coffee with the rain filling your cup up the whole time. The rain didn’t stop, so we ended up not going on a drive in the afternoon. Instead, we spent the afternoon with Mr Pines doing revision of the work we had covered on Monday. 

Photography lessons and wet game drives

Darian takes a selfie with a group of his fellow field guide students sitting in a group behind him, alongside a river in the bushveld.

Thursday morning at 5 o’clock I woke up and looked at the weather to see if we were going to go for a drive, but yet again it was raining. We ended up having our photography class in the morning. After brunch, we had a study day and photography competition. We are yet to know who won. I really enjoyed the photography course and learning more about my camera. On Friday, it was raining again and we ended up doing a lecture on mammals.

My week as camp manager has taught me a lot about responsibilities around camp – from communication to doing simple little tasks. I believe that being a camp manager has made me more confident and prepared me to be able to take on the task as head guide one day. I am very grateful for the opportunity as it has opened my eyes to the responsibilities I will one day need to fulfil. 

From business to field guiding

Bushwise student Darian de Bruin, author of this blog, takes a photo with other field guide students on a safari vehicle in the South African bush.

Becoming a field guide has only been a dream of mine for about two years. Before that, I was studying business principles and relations, but I was not enjoying it and looking to change my path. I came across field guiding when my dad’s best friend suggested field guiding as I spent all my spare time in the bush. 

I immediately fell in love with the idea and my dream was born. Last year, I did a part-time nature conservation course. Then I discovered Bushwise and could not wait to join. I’m currently on the course and I’m absolutely loving it and learning so much more than I could imagine. I cannot wait to start guiding and informing guests about the importance of the bush.

Take a lesson from Darian’s book: if you aren’t enjoying your career, considering trying something totally new! Learn all about the Bushwise courses that can take you there.

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