Meet Michelle Sole, guide at Marataba Safari Lodge in South Africa. We’re celebrating International Women’s Day all week by taking a look at some of our favorite female guides around the world.
Michelle Sole would say she found her calling in 2008 after a family holiday to Africa. Born in England, she’s always had a love and respect for nature and animals. In 2011 she moved to South Africa and studied to be a field guide. Currently she works as a field guide at Marataba in the Marakele National Park.
When she’s not guiding, she’s traveling, seeking adventuring, and nurturing her passion of nature and wildlife through photography.
“Knowledge, expertise, safety awareness, keen senses — they’re all critical for any successful guide in Africa. But what makes a game drive with Michele amazing is her contagious and sincere curiosity about nature and wildlife. Her passion for sharing the story of the animals in Marataba with travelers is really unsurpassed.” – Reid Bader, VP of Operations for Ker & Downey
How many years have you been guiding?
I have been guiding for 4 years.
What or who inspired you to get into the guiding industry?
After a family safari in 2008 I fell in love with the African bush and especially elephants. Guiding was an ideal job to make sure I was in nature all day every day.
Are there barriers for women in the guiding industry you’ve had to overcome?
I think as a female guide you are aware that you are in a very male dominated industry. That said I have never felt there have been any barriers for women; I just made sure I worked harder, studied harder and fixed all of my own punctures!
What is your most memorable sighting?
I had an incredible sighting of a female leopard and her three cubs killing an impala. A leopard is a special animal to see any day but to see four of them is extremely rare as they are solitary cats. The commotion made by the impalas attracted a male lion that was in the area who chased off the leopards and stole their kill!
How would you encourage young girls/women to get into the guiding industry?
Find a field guide college in Africa, study hard, work hard, play hard and always give 100%. And most importantly, keep your passion and always have fun.