Have you ever dreamed of having an exciting job as a scuba-diving instructor in the Mediterranean Sea? or perhaps as a DJ for hundreds of people? or maybe be a Safari guide in wild South Africa, along with lions, elephants and more?
With his core belief that life is meant to be fun, and his only acceptable state of mind, happiness, after dropping out of engineering school in 2010, Simone Lapin-Peregrini (26), decided to follow his heart and live exciting adventures for a living. Today, he is a wildlife photographer, Safari Guide, and expat in the South African bush.
When did you move to South Africa, and what called your attention about this country?
I moved from Namibia to South Africa in March, 2012. It´s difficult to put into words what was interesting to me about this country. I was working in Namibia as an overland safari guide in different areas of the country, and although it was what I wanted to be doing, I also wanted something more stable. So when an Italian company offered me just that in South Africa, I took it.
What drove you to become a Guide?
Passion for nature. This passion sparked when I was 10 years old and I was introduced to scuba diving. This particular environment became very special to me and I enjoyed everything about it, but particularly shipreck driving. The way in which life forms there is very different and special. Nine years after my first dive, I had my first nature-guiding experience in Sardinia, Italy.
Tell us about being a Scuba diving instructor
It was awesome! I needed a job as I had decided to leave my Engineering studies for Natural Sciences. I loved scuba diving, and when I saw the opportunity to work as a guide I said, why not? The deal was that I would work in exchange for accommodation, food, plus my instructor license, so it was a win-win, and awesome experience. I worked two, 6 month seasons in the sea, and in my home town [Reggio Emilia, Italy] I taught scuba diving courses.
And how was your transition from scuba diving in the Mediterranean Sea to guiding in South Africa?
I was still working as a scuba diving instructor when I met Davide Bomben, Founder and President of the Associazione Italiana Esperti d´Africa, and the person responsible for me being here today. I had started studying Natural Sciences at a new university when Davide told me about courses that I could take to become a Safari Guide. I thought cool, let´s try it! There wasn´t much thought into it, I loved the courses, so it was a pretty good experience.
What are your best memories of living and working here?
It´s very difficult to select just one memory. Every close experience with a wild animal is very special to me because it allows me to understand nature in a greater level and even myself. Animals can read you, and depending on how you behave, they will react in a different way. I´ve had some awesome experiences in the bush and seen places that I didn’t even think existed.
What has been the biggest culture shock you´ve experienced here?
The people here are very welcoming, they don´t make it hard to be a part of here.
From my perspective I have found a completely different way of living. Life here is so much more relaxed, and there is so much less stress. In Italy, I was used to being rushed all the time, but when I got here, people looked at me like I was crazy since I still expected things to be too organized and rushed. Now I have adapted, and I take things slowly as they come.
In a more humorous point, the big culture shock here was the food! Of course, wherever I go in the world this will happen because food is so cultural in Italy. But I still cook my own Italian food every other day.
What do you think is next?
I surf the wave that I have under me and see where that takes me. I have found that if you make too many plans now for what´s ahead, you miss out on what you are living at the moment.
Simone has also traveled extensively, "the only continent I haven´t visited apart from Antarctica is North America." Today he spends his free time traveling within South Africa, visiting Kruger National Park, and taking wildlife photography.
Colombian, living and traveling the world (well- not so much at the moment) I am currently sharing my time between San Diego, CA and Albuquerque, NM.