What kind of experience do you need to get the best job in the world?
Well, a 29-hour boat ride across the Amazon Delta as a precursor to a backroads journey through Brazil’s northeast coast and the wild rainforests of French Guiana would be a good start.
You may also be advised to climb the highest peaks of every country from Panama to Guatemala and work as a dive instructor in Zanzibar, an island off the coast of Tanzania.
But at the end of the day, getting a job as a wildlife caretaker in southern Australia may all come down to a simple two-minute interview with a quiet girl named Olivia.
“She was nice,” says Greg Snell. Or she was until Olivia, the three-metre, nine-kilogram python, wrapped around him “like a backpack,” in order to keep warm while he conducted a televised two-minute interview.
Perhaps the last nine years trotting the globe helped Snell keep his cool. Now 27, he set out from his hometown of Oshawa, Ont., at 18 to drive across Canada.
“I wanted a bit of freedom and to follow a dream,” Snell says. “For a lot of kids in Ontario that tends to be out west.”
He ended up in Golden, B.C., working at the newly opened Kicking Horse Mountain Resort renting ski and snowboard equipment. He was among the first to enjoy the notoriously powder-laden resort in a one-traffic-light town, but this was only the first in a series of wild adventures for Snell.
After his first international jaunt in the form of an Andean ski interlude in Chile and Argentina, he came back to Golden for a third winter and then started studies at Golden’s College of the Rockies. The two-year Adventure Tourism Business Operations program was right up Snell’s alley, though he describes the choice as being in the right place at the right time — a theme in his life.
He completed the degree with a one-year break in Central America, which he topped off with an overland trip from Panama to Arizona.
Fast forward through several uneventful years of working as a dive instructor in Tanzania, blogging about his travels up the northeast Brazilian coast and through the Guyanas, working as an adventure tour guide with Toronto-based G Adventures in Argentina and Chile, and Snell is gearing up to take on the Best Job in the World in December.
As Wildlife Caretaker of South Australia (one of Australia's six Best Jobs in the World), he will live primarily on Kangaroo Island, where he will spend six months working for Australia's tourism board taking photos, shooting videos and posting blogs. Side duties of the Best Job in the World include serving as great white shark bait, working with park rangers and diving with sea lions.
Snell says he feels privileged to have been chosen for the job, but it all follows from one of his guiding philosophies: “Everything works out in the end, the trick is having the guts to start.”
“Taking that first step is often the first challenge."