Meet Ranger Iris – Our most passionate tourist yet!

Ranger Iris - Nambiti Hills

The young, foreign and passionate Iris Thiriaux talks to us about her love for the African bush, her strong family ties and what it is exactly that she loves about being a Ranger at Nambiti Hills.

What is one of your earliest bush memories?
It was a special time, back in 2011, one that I will always remember as the start of a lifelong love and passion for the outdoors. I was on the Zambezi River with my family, chugging along in one of those tiny boats, watching two elephant bulls fighting on the river bank. They were oblivious to our presence and we got to witness the wildness of Africa first hand.

What is one of your favourite things about working at Nambiti Hills Private Game Reserve?
All of us who work there are all so different; in our traits, our personalities, our work ethic… but that seems to work. I love being able to call myself a part of the Nambiti Hills family. But aside from that, I love everything about this place. I love getting to show guests wild animals for the first time and seeing the joy and wonder on their faces. I’ve even had guests shedding tears after seeing elephants for the first time! I love making people happy, and it’s easy to do that here. It’s moments like those, which remind me how special my life really is.

Tell us in detail what a typical day entails.
I’m an early bird. In every sense of the word. Regardless of summer or winter, I’m up at 4:30 every morning. Coffee, as you can imagine, is a must! The rest of the day is filled with adventures of wild life, meeting new and interesting guests, discovering new routes and making great memories. Sometimes, there is half an hour to catch up on my studies, nibble on a snack or get some rest before continuing with my day. But keeping myself busy with the things I love is what makes it all such a pleasure. The last game drive of the day lasts until about 7:00 at night, when the guests come back for dinner and we entertain with stories and wildlife tales around the campfire.

Which is your favourite wild animal?
Everyone who knows me, knows this answer; the Cheetah! I can’t control myself when I see it and most times people can’t understand a word I’m saying on the radio when I do spot one. Since as long as I can remember, I have felt inspired by this beautiful animal. Fragile, yet capable. Fast, yet graceful. Beautiful, yet dangerous. What’s not to love!

What makes gong on a game drive with you better than with anyone else?
I don’t believe that any of the Nambiti Hills Rangers are better than each other. We all bring something unique to the lodge and offer our guests a personal experience, the best way we know how. The thing that is unique about me, is that I have been on the other side; I’m a tourist at heart. Even the smallest of details don’t go unnoticed and appreciated.

Tell us more about your private life:
I have three siblings; 2 sisters and 1 brother. We are all very different but obviously love each other unconditionally. And our pet, Babou is very fat and old but he’s part of the family too. Family time is priceless and I’m so grateful for having such a supportive family structure. Coming from Belgium, home is very far away so I only get to go back about twice a year. And of course, my family much prefers coming over to South Africa to see me – it’s a great excuse for them to come to this beautiful country.

What do you do to relax, for fun or as a hobby?
I love to read and write, while listening to music. And there’s something really calming about just watching wildlife through my binoculars. It puts my mind at peace. I also love studying. I know it sounds odd, but I enjoy searching in old dusty books and researching new things. I just can’t seem to stop trying to upgrade my qualifications, and I won’t be satisfied until I do. Apart from wildlife, horse riding is my other passion. I first sat on a horse when I was 2 years old, and have never stopped since then. The thought of taking guests on wildlife safaris on horseback really excites me. Watch this space.