Eastern Cape field guide named second best in SA

Lalibela Game Reserve field guide Ashley Meintjes finished as the runner-up of the esteemed annual Safari Guide of the Year competition
EYE ON THE PRIZE: Lalibela Game Reserve field guide Ashley Meintjes finished as the runner-up of the esteemed annual Safari Guide of the Year competition
Image: SUPPLIED

From game drives and bush walks to guided photographic experiences, bird identifications and tracking, a guide from a game reserve just outside Makhanda has been named as second best in the country.

After participating in a range of activities under the watchful eye of a panel of judges, Lalibela Game Reserve field guide Ashley Meintjes finished as the runner-up in the esteemed annual Safari Guide of the Year competition, powered by the Field Guides’ Association of SA.

HJ Esterhuizen of Royal Malewane was chosen as the 2024 winning guide.

The competition took place at ​​Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa in Limpopo over multiple days between June 30 and July 6.

The top five guides across SA competed in a range of safari-related activities.

These included game drives, bush walks, guided photographic experiences, bird identification and calls, and tracking and signs.

The guides were then judged by a panel of experts.

The Safari Guide of the Year competition, started in 2011, honours the dedication, skill and passion of the field guides who provide unforgettable safari experiences across Southern Africa.

The selection process is highly competitive and a nomination requires at least five years’ experience, specific qualifications and active membership of the field guides’ association.

One of Lalibela Game Reserve’s most respected field guides, Meintjes has been actively guiding for 16 years.

After achieving his first field guide qualification in 2006, he went on to complete his trails guide qualification under the mentorship of Bruce Lawson at EcoTraining.

Meintjes credits mentor and guide Chris Reynecke, who was his head guide at Kichaka Lodge at Lalibela Game Reserve, for laying the foundation of his career.

He said the best part of his job was sharing the wonder and beauty of nature with his guests, especially “opening up a guest’s mind to the unseen and unknown in nature and sharing that experience with them”.

Meintjes said the competition provided an opportunity for guides to demonstrate their development.

“It’s important for guides to have a platform to showcase their skillsets, make memories, and share a great experience to further ignite passion in others,” he said.

HeraldLIVE


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