By Silvana 24 October 2018

An Interview with Female Guides in Southern Africa

The best part of being on safari is without doubt the incredible wildlife! However, to find that exceptional encounter, you need a skilful guide who knows the area and everything within it, to help create that once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Keen on championing the breadth of knowledge and passion displayed by female guides for their local communities and areas, we invited a few of them to chat about their groundbreaking careers in a two-part series blog split between Southern and East Africa.

Leading the way in Southern Africa, Chobe Angels is a team 22 strong – of strong females only, that is. Located in Botswana’s spectacular Chobe National Park, Chobe Game Lodge has an all-female guiding squad. All members are professionally trained and confident in their breaking of traditional gender norms. Meanwhile, at Singita’s lodges across South Africa, the company prides itself on sky-high service standards – and its highly trained female staff are an important part of the guest experience. Both ladies representing Singita are based in Kruger National Park and guide guests staying at Singita Lebombo and Singita Sweni.

 

Chobe Angels

MEET FLORENCE 'FLO' KAGISO: CHOBE'S FIRST ANGEL

Born and raised in the Okavango Delta, Flo is the original Chobe Angel and was influenced by her roots to pursue a career as a guide:

Why did you join Chobe’s Angels all-female safari team?
Chobe Game Lodge gave us ladies the platform to venture into the guiding industry, so joining them was like a dream come true for me. When I started here I was the only female among men, and now it is an all-lady team. It is really amazing to have someone believe in us ladies.

What helps you get up so early in the morning?
The passion that I have towards my job as a guide. I wake up early knowing that I have to be an ambassador of my country, to explain nature, and to connect guests with my African continent.

Meet Malebogo 'Lebo' Kgoleng: A Chobe Angel

Lebo is from the south-eastern district of Botswana and her enduring fascination with wildlife directed her to chase her dream of becoming a guide. She is now backed by 11 years of experience!

Do you think more could be done to encourage women to pursue a career as a safari guide?

Yes, and more especially in areas where there is tourism, like in northern Botswana. There are 22 female guides here at Chobe Game Lodge, but only four are from this area so more needs to be done to give women this knowledge.

What is one item of clothing or equipment that you never go on safari without?

My binoculars and reference books!

 

Singita

Meet Jani Lourens: Field Guide

Raised on a farm in South Africa, Jani spent her childhood days in the great outdoors, from climbing trees and riding bikes to helping out with farm duties. Her fondest memory is time spent with her ridgeback dog – together they’d go exploring in the bush, leading to the most epic adventures!

Is there an advantage to having female guides? 
I feel that female guides tend to show more compassion, we are a lot more sensitive towards nature. It’s not a competition to see how many of the Big Five you can show your guests, but rather it’s about a memorable safari experience that will linger with guests long after they have left Africa, to make them fall in love with nature and keep them coming back for more.

What helps you get up so early in the morning?
Missing out on life! Have you ever seen the beauty of the sun rising in the African bush? It is breathtaking!!! One life has 30,000 days in general, to the age of 82 years old. We cannot afford to lose one of those days. I do what I do because that’s what makes me feel alive.

Meet Margaux le Roux: Field Guide

Margaux was born in Pretoria, South Africa to a nature lover, traveller, and naturalist  father, and an artistic and nurturing mother, who from a young age exposed Margaux to the wonders of the natural world. After completing a field guide qualification and a BTech degree in Eco Tourism Management, Margaux then went on to guide in the Kruger. She has also been involved with several Field Guide Training institutions, assisting in mentoring prospective guides and conservation students. In 2013 she returned to Kruger National Park to join the Singita family.

What are you likely to see on a typical safari trip?
This area is known to have the greatest density of giraffe in the whole Kruger National Park, and we have a fair amount of zebra and wildebeest, sustaining a very healthy lion population.

What do you love about the lodges and Kruger?
I love the scenic terrain. From the open Basalt plains, to the rocky Granophyre ridges of the Lebombo Mountains, and the unexpected adventure to be had around every corner.