“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do, than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover” – Mark Twain

The outdoors has always been a huge passion of mine. I have grown up enjoying camping trips with family and friends, long weekend holidays to the Kruger National Park, and fly-fishing excursions to Dullstroom. I have always liked to think (although it is something that has only recently become obviously apparent) that it is the tranquillity associated with the great outdoors, as well as a deeper, more meaningful connection with nature, that allows me to feel totally at peace with myself and my surroundings.

In 2013, after completing my undergraduate degree from the University of Stellenbosch, I decided to follow my passion for the outdoors, and attended a FGASA (Field Guide Association of South Africa) Level 1 training course at a well-known South African game reserve. Shortly after this 3 month course, I was offered an incredible opportunity which allowed me to complete my postgraduate studies in Business Administration at the Wits Business School in Johannesburg. It was an opportunity that simply could not be turned down; it did however mean temporarily putting a hold on my passion for the bush.

This qualification naturally led me down the path of business, and I joined a large corporate company shortly thereafter, with the view that I needed corporate sales experience and to be exposed to the structure and discipline that came with entering a large corporate environment. Although exposure to the corporate world taught me how to engage and interact with people from all industries and disciplines, and allowed for significant personal growth, I firmly believed that whilst I had the opportunity, I needed to focus my energies on what I am deeply passionate about; and that meant pursuing a career as a professional Field Guide – and so my Londolozi journey began.

I arrived at the lodge for the first time in in April earlier this year for an interview. I was filled with nerves, apprehensive about what the future held for me, yet at the same time incredibly excited. Needless to say, I got absolutely no sleep the night of my arrival, tossing and turning in anticipation of my interview the following morning. I woke up to the instruction that I would be heading out on a drive with Trevor, one of the rangers, following which I would have some time to prepare for a mid-morning panel interview.

Despite my obvious nerves, the one thing that struck me in only the few hours I had been at the lodge, was the incredibly warmth, friendliness and welcoming nature of the people that call this place home. I cannot recall ever being to a place where I had been made to feel so welcome.

The drive with Trevor was an unforgettable experience, and was in many ways the point at which I decided I would do everything I could to work in such a magical place, and to be a part of a team of incredibly passionate individuals, whose collective focus is to provide a unique and unforgettable safari experience.

Four months later, I am happy to state that I, (along with two other colleagues), am a trainee ranger, and hopefully soon to be full-time member of the field guiding team. Despite the numerous and ongoing challenges associated with the training programme, I remain focused, and dedicated to making my childhood dream, a reality.

The pictures below were taken on that first morning drive with Trevor. I regularly refer to these images as a reminder of the moments that resulted in my decision to leave the corporate world, and pursue a burning passion.

Alistair Smith

The two older Tsalala cubs nuzzle up to their mother.

Alistair Smith-7

The Mashaba young female.

Alistair Smith-6

The Mashaba young female again, bathed in golden light.

Alistair Smith-5

The Mashaba female walks along a fallen marula whilst keeping an eye on her cub.

Alistair Smith-3

The cub joins her mother on the fallen tree.

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A tender moment.

“There was a hospital study done on 100 elderly people facing death, close to their last breath. They were asked to reflect about their life’s biggest regret. Nearly all of them said that they regretted not the things they did, but the things they didn’t do, the risks they never took, the dreams they didn’t pursue.” – Prince Ea

What this quote demonstrates to me, is that the lives we live are too short, too precious and far too unpredictable to go through it with any kind of regret. I am glad that I have made the decision to make Londolozi my home away from home.


Filed under Life

Involved Leopards

Ximungwe 5:3 Female

Ximungwe 5:3 Female

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Mashaba 3:3 Female

Mashaba 3:3 Female

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About the Author

Alistair Smith

Guest contributor

Alistair guided at Londolozi from late 2016 to late 2017. Despite only a short stint here, he made a great impression on the guests he drove and formed a great bond with tracker Euce Madonsela. His photography is excellent, and is a passion ...

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on Following Your Passion

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Fabulous photos on one game drive. Last photo of the two leopards, adore.
Good decision. Love Londolozi.

Ross Couper

Well done Alistair, what a great start!

Wendy Hawkins

I wish you the best of luck in your new position & may you go from strength to strength with no regrets! Your pictures are beautiful too, so looking forward to seeing more soon! 🙂

Capt Steve Franklin

Go for your dreams. I did and worked all over the world in avaiation.


Well done for your bravery. I recently chose to leave a big corporate too and it has made all the difference. Good luck on your adventure.

Jill Larone

As Jonathan Swift said, “May you live all the days of your life.” I’m happy to hear that you have found your passion in life Alistair. Never stop exploring, dreaming and discovering — it’s what makes life worth living.

MJ Bradley

It is always good for the spirit when you can follow your dreams. Good luck with your endeavor! Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos!

Freda and Mark Montgomery

Wonderful post! Thanks for sharing your passion with us this week. We wish you good luck and much happiness in the future.

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