Mark Smith - Welcome to my profile!
My Recent Travels
Having moved to Cape Town from Johannesburg, I have enjoyed exploring this beautiful region, which is high in endemism (species unique to this area and found nowhere else), and offers a wide array of experiences.I have enjoyed visiting the wildlife-rich area of the Timbavati Game Reserve and revisited the iconic Victoria Falls, followed by a few nights at the stylish and spectacular Matetsi River Lodge.
My parents and grandparents, who loved the bush, set the tone for my early childhood, and indeed my entire career. Many trips to the Kruger National Park, and walking in the majestic Matopos Hills of Zimbabwe with my grandfather while tracking white rhino at age 10, instilled a deep love and understanding for the natural environment in me. Being schooled in the suburbs of Johannesburg and attaining a BSc Honours in Environmental Science degree from the University of Cape Town merely made me long for the bush even more.
I qualified as a safari guide from the renowned &Beyond Inkwazi Ranger Training based in Phinda Private Game Reserve in early 2008. The diversity of this beautiful reserve, with its myriad habitats, unbeatable birdlife and incredible mammal viewing, became my classroom and base for the next almost seven years. I worked at all six lodges within the reserve, and spent three years based at an exclusive sole-use villa. I also worked for a short while in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, which shares an unfenced border with Kruger. Working for &Beyond allowed me to travel extensively - from climbing the dunes of Sossusvlei in Namibia, punting a mokoro in the Okavango Delta in Botswana, and following the Great Wildebeest Migration on the Serengeti Plains in Tanzania.
It was, however, at Phinda that my passion for photography, birding, and tracking animals on foot grew. I progressed to Head Ranger and assisted with training of new rangers at the lodges.
Having left &Beyond, I enjoyed some time guiding in different parts of South Africa. By the end of 2016 I had guided in 13 lodges across this varied country of ours. Having settled in Cape Town and looking for a new challenge whereby I could combine my passion and knowledge for travel within Africa and then share this with potential visitors, made joining Go2Africa an easy fit.
Where have I travelled
Growing up I was privileged to travel extensively within Southern Africa, as well as venturing outside my ‘Safari comfort zone’. Italy, France, India, Dubai, London, the Maldives, Mauritius and the USA are my international highlights. Closer to home, northern Zululand in kwaZulu-Natal holds a special place in my heart after having lived in this area for seven years. The beaches are pristine, the diversity is mind-blowing, and the lodges and camps are exceptional. I visited the Kruger National Park and Sabi Sands in my early childhood, have seen Madikwe Private Game Reserve, Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya, and got engaged on an exclusive barefoot paradise – Mnemba Island off the coast of Zanzibar.
What I love about Africa
This continent moves to its own pace and rhythms. This is an ancient land with which we have a deep connection. This connection pulls you closer and keeps you coming back for more, and more. I believe this continent offers the ultimate life experiences, in the very best way.
Some African travel advice
This country is a journey of the senses. Travel is often too fast paced, and we forget to take it all in. It’s important to take time to immerse yourself in moments that play on our senses – a lion’s roar that reverberates within us to ancient rhythms; the scent of summer’s first rains on parched earth; the colours that manifest themselves in a diversity of cultures and, of course, the taste of a gin and tonic as the perfect sunset slinks towards the horizon.