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Gareth hails from Kimberly in South Africa and holds a qualification in Game Ranging and Lodge Management. He has worked in various game lodges as a guide as well as running his own tour company with a specific focus on bird tours.
Gareth was born in Kimberly but moved to Cape Town when he was 5 years old. After school, he studied Game Ranging and Lodge Management, following which he worked in various game lodges as a guide. Deciding he needed a greater challenge, he then started his own tour company along South Africa’s Garden Route where he focused primarily on guided bird tours. During this time he continued his studies and qualified as a tour guide and specialist bird guide for the forest and Fynbos biomes.
How did you get into birding?
From the age of 10, I visited the Kruger National Park with my grandparents on an annual basis and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of spotting the birds before anyone else could. After receiving my first bird book I realised that this was something I would be doing for the rest of my life.
What led you to choose a career in tourism?
After visiting game reserves on a regular basis, all I wanted to do was become a game ranger. I studied Game Ranging and Lodge Management and worked on a small private reserve in Cape Town for a year. I subsequently got registered and qualified with the Field Guided Association of South Africa and have been involved in tourism ever since.
What are your other hobbies and interests?
I am a keen bird photographer and I play tennis whenever I get a chance.
What do you enjoy most about being on tour?
I enjoy meeting new people, the friendships that are formed, and I enjoy the challenge of finding a new bird and being part of the excitement when somebody adds a new species to their list.
What are your strengths as a tour leader?
I have had a fair amount of experience working as a tour guide and am able to adapt quickly to the group dynamics. My key strength is identifying bird calls and I also have a great sense of humour and a good background in explaining the natural world to people, whether it be mammals, birds, plants or trees.
Are you a keen bird photographer?
Yes, I am, I love the challenge of continuously improving my photos and find this a very relaxing and rewarding pass time.
Are you a lister; and if so, which lists are your main focus?
I keep a Southern Africa bird list and since joining Rockjumper Bird Tours I am now also starting a world list.
What are your future goals as a birding tour leader?
I have visited Australia, New Zealand and Singapore and have thoroughly enjoyed my time in these countries and I hope to be able to lead tours in these countries at some point.
What is your favourite place/country to guide?
South Africa: it’s nice to be able to guide in my back yard, I believe that we have some amazing bird species in South Africa and it is always great to show these special birds to Rockjumper Clients.
Namibia: This country is just a beautiful country to travel through, it has good landscapes and scenery complimented by some good birding especially in the Caprivi Strip.
Madagascar: I have currently led a few tours in Madagascar and I really enjoyed guiding in this fascinating Country. I really enjoy seeing the Ground Roller, Vanga and Coua families and the Chameleons! I also find the local Malagasy people to be very friendly and the local guides are fantastic to work with.