Most of us work our regular jobs so we can afford life’s special pleasures, like exploring unknown destinations through travel. But what if your job was to explore those unknown destinations every day? That’s what Darryn Murray gets to do as Head Game Ranger at Entabeni Private Conservancy in South Africa. He spends his days taking travelers on safari through the bush in search of the Big Five game and other wildlife that call South Africa their home.
We wanted to get a glimpse into what Entabeni is like through the eyes of a game ranger, so we asked Darryn to answer a few questions for us, and he was happy to oblige. Read on for our Q-and-A with him!
Q: How did you become a game ranger?
A: Well, it started off with my parents. I grew up in Johannesburg, and I was very involved in taking holidays on game reserves and things like that. So it was just a natural thing that I got into when I finished schooling. I did a two-year course studying game ranging and lodge management at Damelin West Rand, and then we did our practical at Entabeni Nature Guide Training.
Q: What’s a normal day like for you?
A: No two days are alike at our job. A day could be anything from getting up at 5:30 in the morning and taking travelers on a morning game drive or bush walk. Or I could come in around noon for an afternoon game drive. We also do night game drives along with star gazing. It all depends on what the guests are looking for, and what’s the best way to spend their time that day.
Q: What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever seen in the reserve?
A: We’ve seen two or three lion hunts with guests on game drives. We’ve also seen cheetahs hunting. But I think probably the most memorable thing is the time we got up close and personal with a lion while on a bush walk with guests. It was kind of scary — a 200 kg male lion coming that close — but everyone was OK. It was a great source of adrenaline, and a fantastic memory — once it was all over!
Q: Is getting that close to the animals common?
A: They can get quite close, which is fantastic. Once I had an elephant come up to me and put his trunk on my lap!
Q: Why should travelers visit Entabeni Private Conservancy?
A: Well, first and foremost, the scenery at Entabeni is unlike anywhere else in the world. The icon of the reserve is its finest mountain, Hanglip Mountain. And, of course, the wildlife is absolutely fantastic. We’ve got the Big Five here and more — lions, elephants, rhinos, buffalo, leopard, cheetahs, etc. Travelers will see wildlife of some sort on every drive. It might not be big five animals, they tend to play games with us — but you’ll definitely get to see animals in their natural habitat. The rangers here are all very professional. They look after the guests very well.
Q: What makes Entabeni different than other places in Africa and around the world?
A: You might see a lion three days in a row, but it’s the interaction that the animal is having that makes it unique — it might be hunting, it might be sleeping, interacting with its family, or something else. That’s what gets us up and going in the morning. That’s what guests coming back experience more and more.
Q: As an insider, what tips do you have for visitors?
A: It’s the basics, really. You need sunblock and a hat. That’s very important. Binoculars and a camera are always good as well. Then just come, have fun, and enjoy the bush with us.
Thanks so much for sharing your insight with us, Darryn.