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John Mittan

John was born in 1979 in South Africa and from a very young age was introduced to the delights of the African bush. He left with his family at the age of five to live in Australia where his passion for the environment and all living things continued to grow. His memories of camping safaris with his parents in many of South Africa’s game and coastal reserves and coming into close contact with all of nature’s treasures remained powerful, and he continually hankered after the African bush he had left behind.

John was schooled in Perth, Western Australia, where he remained an outdoor person, participating eagerly in sports such as soccer, tennis, swimming and in particular surfing. He took numerous trips with friends and family visiting the many natural wonders that Australia has to offer, and was fortunate to travel back to the great wild places of Africa on many occasions. These trips further cemented John’s conviction that he needed to come back to his country of birth and fulfill his dream of becoming a field guide.

John studied for a Biological Science degree in Sydney, taking subjects such as Biology, Microbiology, Ecology and Geology. One inspired day he responded to a “Getaway” magazine advert for “Eco-training”, the most recognized guide training facility in Southern Africa, based in the world renowned Sabi-Sand Game Reserve. The only free space they had was in a scant three weeks. John decided it was now or never. He went straight into the month long course where he underwent intensive training in guest relations, birds, plants, animals, insects, geology, ecology, weapons handling and walking in dangerous animal areas etc. John showed a rare passion and enthusiasm that was noticed by the lecturers/owners of the facility. They requested that he work immediately for “Eco-training”: John had now set out on a career as a guide.

After gaining experience as an instructor, John went to work as a guide at Ingwe Game Lodge. He worked there for two and a half years as Ranger and Head Ranger, as well as assisting a research organization called K.E.R.I., which studied leopards and cheetahs. John’s parents had decided to return to Africa and bought a lodge in the Blyde River Canyon area of South Africa. John’s aspirations, however, were to work for Wilderness Safaris because of their dedication to the environment, communities and people. He was offered a position as a senior guide with Wilderness Safaris Namibia in April 2003. This move to Namibia has been a tremendously fulfilling adventure for John: he is now an experienced specialist guide and heads up the guide training department. He trains and guides all over Africa as well as helping to take training opportunities to the under-developed community areas of the country. He works in cooperation with NGO’s and donor bodies, and believes that since the future of the environment lies in the hands of the youth, this is where training is most needed.

Praise from Natural Habitat travelers:

L. Leonard
"John is the best guide I have ever had. He was most professional. He gave so much of his time being helpful to each and everyone on the trip. He knew so much about every living creature, both big and small, that we saw. He knew the history of Uganda and of Africa. He made the trip interesting. He has a great sense of humor and is fun to have as a guide."

T. Lake
"John was an exceptional Ambassador of Africa. His knowledge and compassion for both political and environmental issues was exhaustive. His knowledge of photography assured me great photos. John made the trip a great multidimensional exploration of Africa."

E. Espiriu
"John is such a great guide that I have signed up for the next Uganda trip in June with John as the guide. He really knows his stuff."

P. Labay
"John Mitten was outstanding as a guide and leader. He was enthusiastic, the breadth and depth of his knowledge was unmatched, he was exceedingly friendly and he kept all of us working together as a team. He both met and exceeded all of my expectations. I can't rave about him enough, he was that good! John made our trip spectacular."

B. Seevers
"John - should be cloned. He did an absolutely fantastic job of dealig with diverse personalities and abilities. His knowledge of wildlife, flora/fauna and birds is outstanding. Excellent!!!"

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