Press & media

James Bailey with guests on a walking safari in Makuleke, Kruger National Park

Bottom line: guiding is fun. You don’t meet many guests who aren’t excited and awed by what you’re experiencing every day. Their enthusiasm is infectious. © Chris Davies

Press release

At the age of 38 James Bailey experienced what could best be described as a midlife crisis. But rather than splashing out on a Porsche he handed in his notice at the London Science Museum and went to South Africa to train as a safari guide.

“If I was going to lose my job then I wanted to make that decision myself. So that was that, I booked my place on a professional safari guiding course and handed in my notice”.

After five months of training he qualified as a FGASA accredited guide. He then worked for the next six months in Makuleke, a wilderness area of the world famous Kruger National Park. During his time acting as a back-up trails guide he clocked up 106 walks (294 hours) which included 97 encounters with dangerous game.

“The first five months were spent training towards my qualifications. I was living in an unfenced camp for up to six weeks at a time. Each day was full of new experiences with each one playing its own part in transforming me from a city slicker to bush ranger”.

“Throughout my year in Africa there was not one day that I did not learn a boat load about wildlife, guiding and myself.”

On return to the UK he launched, a website dedicated to the wildlife of the African savanna. The website is full of hundreds of interesting and credible facts, stories about what it is like to train and work as a safari guide and course information for those wanting a unique gap year or career break.

The website concept originated because James struggled to find one source of short sharp facts that he could use to wow his guests. Whilst there were plenty of fact based websites they all appeared to be aimed at children.

“Whilst I hope that children enjoy my website it’s the adults that I hope to get hooked on nature. After all they are the decision makers of today”.

For each species there are about eight facts, those using the website can vote for their favourite one and then see how it ranks against the full list.

Notes to the Editor

James is available for interview and can also provide photographs for publication, please email

Training as a safari guide

Congratulations on following your dream

My first night in the bush

Taking my first game drive

Face to face with hyenas over breakfast

A once in a lifetime experience with a family of cheetahs

Leopard sighting leaves me smiling from ear to ear. This is why I’m in Africa

Two false starts made for a very tense lion charge test

Placement as a back-up trails guide 

All on my own with nothing but a rifle for company

I radioed in to announce that I was temporarily disorientated

Seven encounters made for an interesting morning

I absolutely loved walking with Emma and Johnny

Dad’s normal calm exterior gave way to youthful excitement

“Leopard on foot”, the three most beautiful words in the English language.

As I walked forward a leopard jumped from a tree

I was probably overreacting but the leopard was walking straight towards the ladies

Then he pulled the trigger which let a bullet fly over the elephant’s head

The second elephant was the one that got the heart racing

Other than the odd mosquito and an accident with a jam jar and some tadpoles as a child this was the first animal that I’ve killed

In reflection

15 lessons I learnt while becoming a safari guide

Tracking tips from a safari guide

Whatever you do, don’t run. How to survive a walking safari