Q&A with Field Guide, Conrad Zeelie

Conrad is one of our incredible Field Guides at The Outpost, as well as our General Manager. He’s been in the guiding industry for over five years and his experience, passion and vast knowledge is truly difficult to beat. We chatted to Conrad about what makes our part of the world, in the far north of the Kruger National Park, so unique; how a typical day in the bush plays out; his top tip for first-time safari goers and more. 

1. WHAT MAKES THE OUTPOST SO SPECIAL?

The northern part of the Kruger has a true wilderness feel. There are so many incredible things to experience that are unique to this area. Whether it’s a walking safari through the enchanting fever tree forest, standing under an enormous baobab or marvelling at the breathtaking views of Lanner Gorge, this area has so much to offer!

2. TELL US HOW YOU BECAME A FIELD GUIDE

I have always been passionate about nature. As soon as I realised that I could make a career out of exposing people to the wonders of nature, I took the opportunity and started building my guiding qualifications after completing my Tourism Management degree. I am a Specialist Field Guide (FGASA Level 3), Lead Trails Guide with Advanced Rifle Handling. I have a Level 3 Track and Sign qualification and I am also a qualified first aid responder.

3. DESCRIBE A TYPICAL DAY…

Every day is so unique, which is what makes this job extraordinary. We get to start each day with a spectacular African sunrise as the birds begin their dawn chorus. After enjoying a cup of coffee and rusks, we head out on an early game drive or walking safari. We usually arrive back at the lodge around brunch time, after which we clean the safari vehicles and prepare for the afternoon activity. We have the privilege of enjoying an amazing sunset with our guests and on the way back to the lodge, we stop to take a moment to gaze upon the clear night skies. Another wonderful day in Africa! 

4. WHAT’S THE ANIMAL YOU NEVER GET TIRED OF SPOTTING IN THE WILD?

I, like most people, always get excited spotting cats such as lion and leopard but my personal favourite has always been the zebra. They are such striking and unique animals, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of their beauty.

5. TOP SAFARI MOMENT TO DATE?

I enjoy seeing animals for the first time such as the aardvark, caracal or identifying a new bird. One of my top sightings was watching a new born elephant take its first steps. The whole herd was standing around the calf, almost welcoming the youngster to its new wild world. It was amazing to see the mother help the tiny elephant up onto its feet and how delicate she was with her baby. We all laughed as it clumsily flopped its trunk from side to side and almost immediately started playing around. Elephants are always entertaining and I have a lot of respect for these magnificent animals.

6. TOP THREE THINGS TO PACK WHEN GOING ON SAFARI?

  • Binoculars – to enjoy the vast array of birds we find in this area as well as taking a closer look at other wildlife.

  • Camera – you don’t need a top of the range camera these days to capture stunning moments on safari. Even your phone can capture picturesque sunsets and the gorgeous scenery. 

  • Sunscreen – the African sun can be very intense and it’s best to always have sunscreen handy and to frequently re-apply when necessary. As guides, we have extra sunscreen and insect repellent with us but we recommend packing a sunscreen of your choice. 

7. TELL US A BIT ABOUT THE OUTPOST AT THIS TIME OF YEAR?

There is so much going on at the moment. It’s a special time of year as the seasons are changing and the bush is starting to transform. We have just received the first rains of the season! Almost overnight grass has started to sprout, flowers are blooming and previously bare trees have begun to produce brand new leaves, to the relief of many animals such as kudu, giraffe and many more! Many migrant bird species such as the cuckoos have arrived back from their journey to breed in this area now that resources are plentiful. 

8. DO YOU CRAVE ANYTHING ABOUT CITY LIFE?

Not much really, perhaps a plate (or three) of sushi but that’s about it.

9. RECOMMENDED READING FOR THOSE PLANNING A TRIP TO THE BUSH?

I love Game Ranger in your Backpack by Megan Emmett and Sean Pattrick. It’s an easy-reading book used by all nature lovers and guides as well. It has the most interesting facts about most of the wildlife we see here and even many interesting uses of trees and other plants.

10. TOP TIP FOR SOMEONE GOING ON THEIR FIRST SAFARI?

Use your senses – in the city we usually want to block out sights, sounds and smells but here it’s the complete opposite. Enhance your safari experience by taking a step back and get into the groove of nature by rising and setting with the sun; listen to the birds sing; look up at the stars at night; touch the massive baobab; smell the elephant walking past… there’s so much to take in!

Keen to learn more about The Outpost? Watch our video for a glimpse into our special part of the world or get in touch to book your stay.


Posted

in

by

Tags: