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Why I swapped finance in London for the Okavango Delta. Come join me for an adventure?

A note from Rob: Freddie Tucker left his safe, comfortable job in finance to run a Horse Safari operation in the middle of the Okavango Delta in Botswana. In this interview he talked me through his escape and the reality of his life today.

NB: This April 8 Escape members are going to join Freddie to spend a week walking through one of the wildest bits of Africa. 7 of the places have been filled, I’m looking for the final person to complete the group. Email rob@escapethecity.org if you’re interested in being the final person on this adventure. Trip summary – here, All details (including price, dates, etc) – here

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What were you doing before you became an African cowboy?

cityoflondonI worked in Investment Management for four years. I was an Investment Associate. I spent my time managing private client portfolios and watching financial markets.

For me it was all very unnatural. The routine felt like 5x (coffee, work, lunch, work, dinner, work, bed) then 2x (recover from previous and dread Monday morning).

What do you mean 5x and 2x?

You wait 5 agonising days for 2 days of enjoyment. The balance was wrong. Every Monday I would lament the end of the weekend and regret the start of the new week. This didn’t make sense to me.

I get the feeling you’re not very good at being cooped up?

That’s probably completely right!

I remember there being an apparently very good summer in the UK one year… I had no idea, I had been inside looking at computer screens the whole time. The work began to become repetitive and there was no sign of it relenting.

It felt like I was permanently waiting for something. Waiting for a promotion, pay rise, bonus or move. It wasn’t for me.

thumb_140x140_b619ed14-a7e7-43ed-9a92-3edea46c724aSo what are you doing now?

I am currently managing Okavango Horse Safaris in Botswana and I am also running my own walking safaris business…

How did you get the job? (blatant Esc plug!)

I never actually knew this job existed. In fact I didn’t know you could even do a safari from horseback. I just knew I needed to get out of the city or else suck it up for the next 30 years and buy shares in my local coffee house.  I didn’t know what or where I wanted to go. I knew I didn’t want to work in the UK and I didn’t want to work in finance.

I started looking for positions abroad working for small companies. Something that required a lot of time outdoors or travelling. I have always had a passion for the wild places in the world and so thought this would be a good place to start looking for a career. I talked to everyone – ideas and opportunities pop up in the strangest places. Eventually I found this gig listed on Escape the City… and here I am!

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What does your day-to-day look like?

There is no day-to-day routine. We live by the sun, so I’m up at dawn to check on our 71 horses and make sure preparations for the day’s ride are all in order. I then grab some breakfast with the guests or check they are not being held hostage in their tents by passing elephants. By 7am we are all up on our horses and heading out into the bush for the morning.

We are out in the bush all morning, track huge herds of Buffalo, get charged by an elephant and canter alongside giraffe and zebra. By now it’s really hot and the African sun is high in the sky. We get back to the shade of camp and a bit of lunch. Cool off with a swim in the  waters of the Okavango, watch out for that croc, etc…

Any regrets?

I love my job. It can’t be simpler than that. It’s fantastic and if you are in something you love you start noticing opportunities and can take advantage of them. The possibilities become endless and the future just opens up.

The negatives are small. I have less security now and the pay is not comparable. But it’s easy to watch what you spend when you are generally very happy just doing what you are doing. Money becomes a much smaller issue.

I possibly swung between extremes, moving from London to the remote bush (you need a helicopter to get to where I live) and will probably find a happy medium elsewhere at some point but that’s not a concern.

I’m off that corporate rail track now and the rest is easy.

profile_474426ce-34cd-44e3-beab-841ea9bf708bAny advice for someone wanting to do the same?

I’d tell people the best thing to do is just man up and do what you want.

Being happy takes hard work, you’ve got to make a conscious effort to get your life how you want it.

You can’t control everything but no one’s going to pull the strings for you. Work hard at making you life what you want it to be, but don’t forget you’ve got to enjoy the journey.

It’s good to keep an open mind and not get daunted by things. Every time you read about someone and think “wow that’s cool, wish I could do that” just remember that you probably can, if you really want to.

So tell us about this walking adventure then?

The first trip involves taking 8 Escape the City members on a never-been-done-before walk through the delta - fishing, camping at night, getting up close to big game, and generally relishing being in the middle of nowhere.

I’m particularly excited about getting a group of like-minded people together for an adventure – especially if they don’t know each other but they’re all interested in making big career changes.

There’s nothing like the bush, a campfire and being miles away from email to give you some real perspective.

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Thanks Freddie – very jealous I’m not one of the group… look forward to hearing how it goes!

Fri 8th Feb – Freddie Tucker, Okavango Horse Safari, interviewed by Rob Symington, Co-Founder of Escape the City, @escroberto

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NB: This April 8 Escape members are going to join Freddie to spend a week walking through one of the wildest bits of Africa. 7 of the places have been filled. I’m looking for the final person to complete the group. Email rob@escapethecity.org if you’re interested in being the final person on this adventure. Trip summary - here, All details (including price, dates, etc) - here