Get to Know Adventure Guide Natalie Morawietz

Most people try to avoid bears in the wild. Natalie Morawietz, however, goes out of her way to find them. One of her favourite activities is spotting wildlife — and it’s part of her job as an overland adventure guide with Infinite Adventures, a company she started with her partner Dave. After working as one of the few female overland adventure guides in Africa (and truck driver and mechanic), she now takes travellers on epic journeys all over North America in a remodeled school bus. These trips could involve trekking, kayaking, ice climbing or wildlife spotting — or all of the above.
How did you get into your field of expertise?
I’ve always loved travelling and spend every vacation out of my hometown. Seeing new places and experiencing different things is my passion. And above all, spotting animals is one of my favourite things in the world. It never gets old and I always try to get the perfect shot — with a camera, of course.

How did you make the transition to becoming a tour guide?
I started tour leading after a half-year career break travelling in Africa. I just knew all of a sudden that I had to change my job to be able to travel more and to face different challenges. I applied for a job with the English Overland Tour Company and after learning how to drive big vehicles and training for a few weeks on mechanics I found myself out in Africa again: leading trips between Cairo and Cape Town. I loved my job so much that I finally started my own overland tour company guiding trips in Alaska and Canada together with my husband. How I ended up in Alaska? Well, my husband fell in love with Alaska several years ago and we realized what North America was missing: guided overland trips in a converted school bus.

What does a typical day look like for you?
When I am leading trips, I am with my clients 24/7. I wake up early to prepare breakfast, I drive the converted school bus, I guide hikes through untamed wilderness, I try and spot as many animals like bears and moose as possible and I answer many questions. As much as possible I join optional activities as well, such as ice climbing or sea kayaking around icebergs. In the evening I prepare dinner — lots of times I have people helping me. On our trips we usually become friends and everybody chips in. In between I make phone calls and write emails to make sure that all our campsites and planned activities are taken care of.

Do you have a certain style of guiding, or do you just run with it on the day?
Usually I give my clients options and try to include them as much as possible. I guide adventure trips and also want to bring them out of their comfort zone — at least once in a while.

What is the best part of your job?
To be able to travel around and be out in nature — seeing bears, moose and sleeping under the stars of Alaska.

What’s the most bizarre experience you’ve had on a guided tour?
That was a while back when I was guiding in Africa. A client asked me if Disney’s Lion King was filmed in the Serengeti …

Ever had any odd requests from clients?
One of my clients requested to see an orca catching a seal and playing with it.

Every job has its ups and downs. Are there any aspects of your job that you don’t like or aren’t that keen on?
When I guide trips a few months in a row, I start missing time for myself. But as soon as I am alone at home, I miss the people around me. You know, the grass is always greener …

Tell us something about your area of expertise that only you would know.
I know which spots are the best to see brown bears fishing for salmon. I know the places where there are less people and you are more likely to see a caribou prancing around you while hiking. And I know the best place to eat fresh salmon in Alaska.

In your view, what makes a good tour guide?
A good tour guide not only knows the area, (but) reads between the lines and tries to plan ahead. Every day should be a highlight and a little bit more than promised in the itinerary.

Do you have any tips for people who are interested in booking a guide like yourself, but aren’t too sure what to look for?
Read about the guide’s philosophy and passion as well as reviews from previous clients. If they rate a guide as outstanding and have true and authentic stories of their experience, then you can’t go too wrong.

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