Summit meeting with Stephanie Kulak
(Dieses Interview gibt’s natürlich auch auf Deutsch.)
Where does your enthusiasm for the mountains and for nature come from?
Born in Munich, raised in Stuttgart – the proximity to the Alps and the Swabian Alb helped to fall in love with the mountains and nature. As a child, I also spent a lot of time on a „adventure playground“ in close vicinity to a forest. Once you dug for earthworms, groomed horses or chewed on edible plants as a kid the nature theme somehow sticks to you.
When you were still living in Germany, you got your hunting license. Quickly after, you travelled to South Africa and participated in a Field Guide Course to learn about life in the bush. Somehow it seems that it was not enough for you to simply be in nature for the weekend …
To me, Africa is more than „just“ nature. It must be something archaic about it that touched my soul. I did not complete the hunting licence. It was the attempt to learn more about nature at home and helped me spend weekends in the forest.
You then decided to totally move to South Africa. You completed another one-year field-guide training and worked for some years in a Safari Lodge. There, you explained the surrounding nature to your guests – everything from the Big Five to a small spider’s net. To what extend is nature in Africa different from Germany?
To start off with – Germany‘s nature is wonderful. To me the difference is that nature over there often feels „taimed“, is part of culture and civilisation. In africa it seems to be the other way round – we are part of nature, part of the wilderness. You have to fully rely on your senses and instincts, otherwise you could get eaten. I first had to learn that again which was – and still is – a very exciting process!
Now you build up a Field Guide School yourself. As for this, you – of yourse – live in the middle of the African bush. What motivates you?
The magic „golden hour“ before sunset, the scent of the soil after the first rains, the roar of the lion when I am about to fall asleep. To witness on a daily basis how everything in nature in interlinked. But my biggest motivator is to share my passion for the wilderness with others and pass on a little of what I am priviledged to learn and experience.
Many will say: „Wow, this woman really lives her dream!“ Is there, nevertheless, a tour that stands on your wish list?
One wish has come true already: To hike to the peak of Lesotho‘s highest mountain, Mount Thabana Ntlenyana with its 3.482m. I can highly recommend „The roof of Africa“ if you love breathtaking mountain sceneries.
And now: Close your eyes and dream! Financing and time are no issue – where will you go to?
I would love to experience the huzzle and buzzle of Bangkok. Friends of mine always rave about it and I loooove Asian food. Alternatively – I’d take part in an expedition through the jungle of South America. The discovery of a new ant species included!
A hut that you especially recommend?
The Malealea Lodge in Lesotho. The view of the mountains is stunning and one can do pony trails, bike tours or hikes from the lodge.
In your case, this question is more eligible than ever: Where do we meet you if you are not in nature?
In a museum or restaurant in Johannesburg – the city, by the way, is much better than they say. Or in Munich-Stuttgart-Duesseldorf when I visit friends and family.
Stephanie Kulak (1971) was born in Munich. Her biggest passion is the African wilderness. Four years ago she made her dream come true and became a Safari Guide in South Africa. She worked as a Head Ranger in a five-star lodge, is now heading up a training school for field guides and lives – of course – in the middle of the bush in Marakele National Park.