Starting out as a safari guide

1st November 2014   •  By Jomi Krobb

Jomi Krobb writes about what is involved in starting to guide at a new safari lodge. Luckily he some incredible sightings to help him on his way. To fully understand what a safari guide is, what the role entails and how to become one please check out our definitive guide to the safari guide.

Have you ever been on safari? The big 5: Lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, buffalo and giraffe, zebra, hippo, crocodile, land rover, sunsets, night-drives, boma dinners; adventure.

Let’s face it. The first time is probably going to be your most memorable experience. And if you come back again the chances are that you’re already hooked. And it’s not just the big mammals that you’re addicted to, in fact it’s more often learning about all the other things such as birds, plants, ecology, conservation or astronomy that has you coming back time and time again.

People come to the African bush for more than just luxury lodges and great food. It’s more than that, a curiosity has been evoked by either an Attenborough documentary or in younger cases, ‘The Lion King’. And as well as that there is a lust and longing to not only see more but to learn more about what is going on in nature and the wild, the opposite side of the spectrum of most people’s metropolitan lives.

I guess there’s no pressure then on the one person, who stands to make the difference to your experience, the link between you and the natural environment, who will interpret what is happening out there to you. I’m talking of course about your guide, your ranger.

Having just started work at a new lodge there are several things I needed to do and to learn. The road network was one and with quite an intricate network spread over 23 thousand hectares, there were plenty to learn. I tagged along with one of the other guides for a couple of days and shortly we were rewarded with one of the best leopard sightings I’ve ever had.

It was early morning when we found a young female in a tree. The warthog kill, which probably weighed the same, if not more than its predator had been hoisted at least 4 metres off the ground into a tree just off the road. Luckily this leopard was far too engaged with its food than to pay any attention to us at all.

We spent about an hour watching as she devoured a significant portion of her prey, including eating the entire tail and ripping off a leg. Difficult to sum up in words so here’s a picture.

Female leopard in a tree feeding on a warthog

© Jomi Krobb

Once I began taking out my own guests the sightings didn’t get any worse. Conveniently, two of the local lions killed a zebra just beside the road, which allowed me to show my very first guests at the lodge the awesome power of a lioness and witness the sound when they bite down on and separate flesh from bone. Gruesomely awesome to watch.

Lioness feeding on a zebra

© Jomi Krobb

Possibly my favourite sighting to date here has been that of three elephant bulls. Where I work there is a dam in which you will often see hippo and sometimes even a South African rock python.

One day one of the other rangers and myself took some guests out on a walk after breakfast. After the walk we drove past the dam in the heat of the day. Its October now and getting exceptionally hot, not just for us but for the animals as well.

To our surprise there were 3 elephant bulls in the water, playing. They would splash about and mock-fight with one another and literally play pranks on one another. An exceptional spectacle to behold and one I know will stay with myself and our guests that day for a very long time.

Two bull elephants playing in the dam

© Jomi Krobb

Some of the sightings above are the reason I enjoy my job so much, it’s not only being able to see these incredible acts of nature but being able to share them with people who live in a city or in an area where wilderness is all but extinct.


Vote for your favourite lion, leopard, elephant and warthog facts now.

Prior to working at Marataba Safari Lodge Jomi attended the professional safari guide course.

To fully understand what a safari guide is and does please visit our post on the definitive guide to the safari guide.