In this week’s episode of the Safari Stories podcast, we record again from within the Kruger National Park and with our second guest of the podcast, Mike Anderson. Jomi and Mike first met back in 2012 when they were doing their initial guide training courses.
Above: Mike Anderson (far right) working as a back-up trails guide on an Ecotraining safari guide course back in 2012
Since then, Mike has had an impressive career in the South African bush, guiding at various top lodges in the the Timbavati and Sabi Sands area of the Greater Kruger National Park before becoming a guide instructor himself with South African training provider, Ecotraining.
Above: Mike Anderson (middle) training at Ecotraining. Photo: Tyler Gagat
Jomi and Mike tell the story of how a fortuitous leopard sighting on a sleep-out back in 2012 sparked a friendship that has continued on to today, where they (this week!) find themselves witnessing an incredible sighting of a pack of 17 or more wild dogs.
Above: Mike setting up his 'bed' on a sleep out with Jomi at Ecotraining's Mashatu camp in Botswana. Photo: Erin Lentz
Mike shares his journey of going to work for a luxury safari lodge (Ngala Safari Lodge) and why working there was so special. At Ngala, Mike worked with a tracker named Fanie, who was by all rights a legend in the tracking field. Having spent a quarter century working on the same reserve learning the shapes of the trees, the style of the substrates, and the personalities and behaviors of the various leopards, Fanie had an indispensable gift for finding animals in the bush. Mike discusses what it was like working with Fanie on a daily basis and some of the incredible (and mind blowing!) animals Fanie spotted over the years.
Above: Mike and Fanie with guests, while working at Ngala Safari Lodge. Photo: Mike Ragan
After working as a professional guide for a number of years, Mike returned to the company where he did his initial guide training (Ecotraining), but this time as an instructor.
Above: Mike instructing in the beautiful Makuleke Concession in Pafuri, KNP. Photo: Anthon Wessels of Africa Photographic Services
-why guiding guests and training students is actually very similar
-why he always stresses the importance of appreciating the little things in the bush and in life
-one of the most impactful experiences he has had with students (hint: it involves being growled at by lions while out on a walk)
-why, especially during the time of the C-word (COVID), it is so important to listen to your body and your mind and to heed what they are telling you (to immerse yourself in nature and 'disconnect in order to reconnect')
-what wilderness area he can't wait to visit and explore next!
Above: Mike, Jomi, Hadley, and many other friends from the bush exploring Makgadikgadi Salt Pans in Botswana in 2019. Photo: Mike Anderson
Mike’s passion and enthusiasm shines through to anybody who has ever met him, and his respect for the animals and nature make him the perfect candidate to be a custodian of the bush and to help set guides on the right career path from the very get go.
Tune in! You can listen to the Safari Stories podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcast, SoundCloud, our website, or wherever you listen to your podcasts! Links below.