The annual Safari Guide of the Year 2022, was recently held on location at the Southern African Wildlife College, in the Kruger National Park. The event was hosted by location sponsor, Bushwise Field Guides.
Founded by Mike Karantonis, co-owner Africa Direct Travel and powered by the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA), the Safari Guide of the Year’s goal is always to recognize exceptional guides and showcase excellence within the guiding industry. The finalists were all highly qualified FGASA guides from the tourism industry, nominated by lodges, employers, guests and fellow peers, all within Southern Africa.
This year the competition was very privileged to welcome the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Mr Fish Mahlalela, the Deputy Director General Tourism Sector Support Services and National Registrar for Tourist Guides, Ms Setwaba, her colleagues Ms Pillay (Director Tourist Guides) and reginal Registrars. All were invited to come and see for themselves the level of excellence, training, commitment and professional performance of the finalist candidates.
Great camaraderie was shown by all, and the competition was a closely contested event, really only having a clear cut winner coming through on the last day of the competition. The assessed categories certainly tested the knowledge and guiding skills of the finalists and showed all the prowess of all the candidates.
The five finalists
The five finalists that took part in the event were Liam Henderson from The Homestead, Nambiti in Kwa-Zulu Natal; Cameron Pearce from Ongava Game Reserve in Namibia; Ruvan Grobler from Lion Sands in the Sabi Sands; Solomon Ndlovu from Singita Lebombo in the Kruger National Park and Nico Brits from Bushwise Field Guides in Limpopo.
All guides were tested on eight categories over a period of six days. All were judged accordingly by a panel of experts and all scores were later collated to derive a winner.
The fundamental principal for the competition is to give something back to all safari guides who work so hard and are great ambassadors for our country. Field guides are professionals and deserve recognition for their hard work and contribution to the tourism industry. “We want the younger guides to hopefully be here one day, and give them an incentive to increase their longevity of a career that is normally quite short-lived”, said Mike Karantonis from Africa Direct, co-founder of Safari Guide of the Year.
The competition could not take place without the contribution of the sponsors. For that FGASA is very grateful because the commitment by the sponsors gives life to the event. The sponsors are:
- Bushwise Field Guides
- Accident Angels
- FGASA and Africa Direct Travel
- International Guest Sponsors James & Elisabeth Osman and Ashley Hill
- WildEarth TV
- Armadillo Media
- Kruger2Canyon News
- Out on Air
- Travel and Things
- Ruggedwear and FGASA
- The Trail Food Company
- Free Go Outdoor and Canvas
- Baobab IT
- NJ More Field Guide College
Big 5 Guided Walk: Cameron Pearce
Game Drive Experience: Liam Henderson
Track & Sign: Cameron Pearce
Advanced Rifle Handling: Solomon Ndlovu
Birding: Cameron Pearce
Photography Award: Ruvan Grobler
Hospitality and Professionalism: Nico Brits
Storytelling: Cameron Pearce
Wild Earth Viewers choice: Nico Brits
The Overall Winner of Safari Guide of the Year 2022 was South African Cameron Pearce, currently operating from Ongava Game Reserve in Namibia.
The Runner up of Safari Guide of the Year 2022 was Ruvan Grobler from Lion Sands.
Michelle Du Plessis, FGASA Managing Director had this to say: “The 11th event went off without a hitch. The weather did play its part at the start, but once the competition got underway, it paled into insignificance. Our sincere thanks must go out to our sponsors and the professional judging panel consisting of Lucas Mathonsi, Gawie Grobler, Juan Pinto, Mike Karantonis and James Steyn. Without their vast knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm, this event would not have been the success that it was”.
For further information contact:
Michelle du Plessis