I developed a passion for wildlife when I was 10 years old and this would be accompanied by me doing wildlife drawings and paintings at that age. This was later followed by mentoring from my geography teacher for some years.
How did you make the transition to becoming a tour guide?
After I completed my high school the timing was correct and I was admitted into college to pursue Hospitality and Wildlife management. The two diploma course led me to the new path when I graduated as skilled jobseeker. My first job was with a US based Tour Company as guide/tour leader an assignment that I undertook for six months before this company went under.
What does a typical day look like for you?
To be honest a typical day of a tour guide/tour leader begins at the end of the day before, after reflecting on the day’s achievements, as in what sort of wildlife species that my team and I managed to spot/did not spot, finding if all my guests are well and also if they are still enjoying the safari as per that specific day. Now, after the day’s debrief, planning for the following day begins. This involves informing my guests what the day ahead will look like, the distances to be covered, wake up time, packed lunch and picnicking issues, our expectations and above all the importance of time management.
In the morning of the tour day, a warm morning greeting normally heralds the day. Knowing the well being of my guest is also highly welcome and this is to be followed with a confirmation whether they have taken breakfast, got their packed lunch boxes and finally the checkout procedure from the accommodation facility as this will ensure that their luggage is wheeled back to the vehicle. The guide is always the last person to slide the tour van’s door closed as an assurance that all my guests are in the vehicle.
My style of guiding is already well developed in my system and what I have to do is to ensure that I follow it with passion and some degrees of flexibility to accommodate my guests’ requirements but without compromising the standards. A few unavoidable changes here and there are normally part of the very demanding but an enjoyable day as guide/tour leader.
What is the best part of your job?
An appreciation remark during the safari is on one best parts of the job. This normally accompanies a great wildlife spotting, an excellent accommodation or great views on the way.
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?
With a lot passion the job is good though it does come with unknown degrees of pressure at times. The best ways to tackle this is to remain calm as you focus on your job and the day ahead.
As a guest you must accept that you are a guest and this has to be complemented by a native with local knowledge when it comes to local attractions, sights and sounds of your chosen destination. A guide is your locally most trusted source of information and at the same time he/she is your guide.
Tell us something about your area that only a guide would know.
The local knowledge of a guide is profound and comes second to none. Locally, there are migrant bird species that their local movements can only be known by a local guide. In my case, my local knowledge regarding natural science and wildlife behaviour come handy when I am touring my guests.
And finally, in your view, what makes a good tour guide?
Honesty, time management, and being polite makes a good tour guide. Knowing your guests and their likes is above all. Appreciating them is the key to success, while handling them with the dignity that they deserve. As a guide you must know that every guest is different and that for this very reason handling them with a high degree of patience is vital. Enjoying your job all the time is the foundation of being a good guide and this has proved that guides who put money first have never impressed their guests in any way.