Nick Smith has been one of our incredible field guides at The Outpost Lodge in the north of the Kruger Park for three years. His vast knowledge of the area, passion for nature and amazing wildlife photography make for an unforgettable safari experience. We asked him about his love for the bush, what it’s like to be a field guide and his top safari must-haves
What makes The Outpost Lodge so special?
The Makuleke Concession, where The Outpost is situated, is 26,500 hectares and is home to over 75% of the Kruger National Park’s biodiversity, which makes it an extremely special place. It is also home to some of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in the Kruger National Park, these include the fever tree forest, Lanner Gorge and the extremely picturesque Limpopo floodplains.
What made you decide to become a field guide? And what qualifications do you have?
I have always had a passion for the bush and was lucky enough to visit the Kruger National Park often with my parents from a young age. I attended a school on a wildlife estate from the age of 11 and always knew that becoming a guide would be my future. I studied with EcoTraining where I obtained my FGASA Level 1, back up trails guide and advanced birding qualification.
Describe the typical day as a field guide
There is no typical day as a field guide, every day is unique. The only thing that remains the same is waking up just after 4am everyday and waking guests for their morning coffee whilst listening to the birds chatter and the bush come alive, thereafter it is always completely different. On a game drive we have the opportunity to explore and see so many different things, the bush is like a blank canvas and I am living my dream.
What's the animal you never get tired of spotting in the wild?
I never get tired of spotting an African elephant in the wild, they are extremely misunderstood animals and I find them absolutely fascinating.
Top safari moment to date?
All of my safari moments are equally spectacular but one that does stick out is seeing two female leopards stalk and kill an impala. We were the only vehicle around and my guests and I were super chuffed with this rare sighting.
Top three things to pack when going on safari?
Binoculars, a camera and a sense of humour and adventure.
Do you crave anything about city life?
I don’t miss city life at all but the smell of potato bush makes me crave ‘slap chips’! And sometimes I miss pizza too.
Recommended reading for those who are planning a trip to the bush?
My top choices would be A Game Ranger Remembers by Bruce Bryden and The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony. I would also recommend buying a good bird book, my favourite is the Roberts 2nd Edition Birds of Southern Africa.