18 Jul Safari Guides of Welgevonden | Meet Angus
We’re sitting on the edge of the Southern Plains. South Africa’s very own Serengeti.
The early light has only just begun to caress the golden plains and one or two birds have cued the first movement of the morning symphony.
Angus Frew has a pair of binoculars glued to his eyes, scanning the ‘big screen’ for signs of life.
A lone giraffe inspects the leaves of an equally lone tree, a herd of blesbuck look around sheepishly for signs of predators, and a lioness lounges around a watering hole.
“You see, you don’t need a radio to find animals in the bush. All you need is a good vantage point, a pair of bino’s, and a little bit of patience.”
Angus always knew that he wanted to live in the bush, obtaining qualifications that would lead him there. After serving in the military, Angus went on to work for the Natal Parks Board and then later for CC Africa where he worked at their Zululand and Madikwe properties.
In January 2000, Angus and his wife, Marion, moved to Izingwe Lodge at Welgevonden Game Reserve. And they never looked back.
Angus, a true conservationist, has one goal when it comes to interacting with his guests: to create custodians of nature.
Instead of gratifying his guests with ‘instant coffee’, Angus offers a slow brew safari, unveiling a world of wildlife that goes beyond the Big Five.
When he’s not out on game drive, you can find Angus either on the tennis court or pottering around in his workshop. And trust me, even in the middle of winter, he’ll be wearing shorts.
Angus John Frew
Manager and Guide at Izingwe Lodge
Started working at Welgevonden:
Natal Parks Board APU and Rhino Monitoring
CC Africa Maintenance and Estate Management, with positions at two of their properties: Zululand and Madikwe Game Reserve.
National Diploma in Nature Conservation from Cape Technicon
BTech degree in Nature Conservation from Cape Technicon
Tennis, photography and woodwork. Marion and I game drive every moment we have, even if we don’t have guests in the lodge.
Angus with his wife, Marion, and their two children, Megan and Duncan.
When did you first realise your passion for wildlife?
From about nine years old I told my parents and school teachers that I wanted to live in the wilderness. It wasn’t so much about the wildlife, but more about the wide open spaces and not wanting to live in a densely populated city or suburbia.
As I grew older, I became more fascinated by the wildlife aspect and realised the only way to achieve such a lifestyle was to study something related after school.
Trisha Wilson, owner of Izingwe Lodge, sponsored an elephant collar in 2018. Here, Angus snaps a photograph of her and her husband, Jeb.
Angus monitors the breathing rate of the sedated elephant.
Angus poses behind a sedated elephant with Izingwe Lodge owner, Trisha Wilson, during the intervention.
What is your favourite part about being a field guide?
I am privileged to be managing an exclusive-use lodge where we only take on party bookings of six people max. This makes guiding very pleasant and allows me to tailor-make my guests’ experience according to their needs. There is no schedule at Izingwe.
I guess the best part is seeing what different people they are when they leave. They arrive with such urban baggage and stress. The bush is my tool to help discard all of that, even if only for a few days.
What do you like most about guiding at Welgevonden?
Welgevonden is a tough environment to guide in when compared to areas where guests can expect ‘instant coffee’, and while I have guided in these areas, I much prefer the challenges of this Reserve.
Having been on Welgevonden for 20 years, I have seen the Reserve grow and evolve.
It is a formidable, autonomous conservation initiative that is held in high regard by conservation circles both nationally and internationally. It continues to pioneer new ideas, with it’s challenges and successes making for very interesting discussions on game drive and around the fire.
Educating my guests about the bush and conservation on Welgevonden is like peeling an onion, layer by layer. It can take some time, but eventually *clicks* the penny drops. And this new appreciation, of the bush and of our conservation efforts, is what makes the guest’s experience more unique than anywhere else in Africa.
Angus explains a map of Welgevonden to a small film crew from the National Geographic
What has been your most exciting sighting at Welgevonden?
That’s easy! Seeing the fences come down and more land being incorporated into the Reserve!
What animals are on your sightings bucket list?
On Welgevonden? Definitely Aardwolf. But off the continent, I’d like to see a tiger.
What would you be doing if not guiding?
I would most definitely be back in hands-on conservation!
Any advice for up and coming field guides?
Guiding requires great patience and hosting skills.
The difference between a good safari and a great safari is the guide.
You only have your guests for a few days and should encourage them to spend as much time out in the bush as possible. Even if that means parking off in one spot, watching the ‘big screen’ and listening to the sounds of nature.
Take quality time to educate your guests on bush interpretation, animal behaviour and tracking. Always communicate with your guests and involve them in what you are doing.
They’ll appreciate the experience all the more for it, and will leave with a new found passion for wildlife.