Filled with ambition, a passion for the outdoors and all things South Africa, we recently caught up with Kelwan to find out what life is like for a ranger. This farm boy, turned bush boy has been a ranger at Nambiti Hills for two years now and this is what he had to say:
Tell us in detail what a typical day entails.
As head ranger and assistant lodge manager, every day is different. But my main focus is ensuring guests have the best time out in what we like to call “our wild backyard.” So I wake up at 05h00 and prepare the morning snacks and coffee for our early game drive which departs at 06h00. We’re back just in time for a full breakfast at 09h30. I then check in any new guests, wash the cruiser, and get ready for the afternoon game drive that heads out at 15h00. Dinner and socialising with the guests is how I end my day until about 08h30. Then I retreat to my room after a long day and prepare for another new adventure in the morning.
What do you love about this country?
The fact that we get guests continuously arriving from around the world, is a testament to the kind of country we live in. There is such a special and unique heritage here, it’s hard not to fall in love with South Africa.
Do you have a secret spot on the reserve that you always take guests?
I do. And I’m absolutely not going to let my secret slip. Let’s just say, it’s a rewarding feeling taking guests there and watching their amazement as they witness Africa’s natural beauty first hand.
Which is your favourite animal? Why?
I am in awe of the Leopard. It’s always the most challenging to track and find – which is half of the thrill I guess – but it’s also the most beautiful; disappearing as quickly as it appears. I love the unpredictability of a Leopard.
What do you love most about your job?
Meeting guests from around the world is really special. Not everyone has that luxury in their day-to-day jobs. Just as each day here at Nambiti Hills is different, so too are the guests; with new stories and different things they want to see. It’s what makes it all so gratifying for us. I also love that guests are keen to be “educated” when they’re here; they come with open minds and a passion for Mother Nature, which makes our jobs so much easier.
Did you always want to do what you’re doing now?
This has been a passion of mine since high school, and maybe even before then. I grew up on a sugar cane farm on the South Coast of Durban. After University, I immediately started working at different private game reserves to gain more experience. After graduating as one of the top three students at Bush School in the Limpopo Province, I was ready to get stuck into my dream career. And still to this day, I have no regrets!
How often do you go home and what do you do to relax?
I get to go home every 6 weeks for 2 whole weeks – which is great because I get the best of both worlds. When I am home I spend a lot of time helping my dad on the sugar cane farm, and at the beach. I’m also quite keen on firearms and love spending time at the shooting range with my friends. Off-road bikes, quad bikes and anything that gets the adrenalin pumping is what I call fun.
Who inspires you?
Anyone with a sense of self-motivation, self-preservation and an open mind.