Meet the leader: Spokes from Botswana

How did you decide to become a guide?
I am a mechanic by trade, and after a hectic day at work I would drive out to see the wildlife. That's where I got my passion. But my boss didn't want me to move out of the workshop, so I promised to do both jobs until I got my professional guide's licence. I kept my promise and I've now been guiding for 15 years.

Why do you prefer mobile safaris to working in a permanent lodge?
For the first three years of my career I worked in a permanent lodge. I then moved home and did mobile safaris in Chobe for two years. After that I spent three years doing local game drives, which was three hours driving into Chobe and back. But I didn't like that and wanted to go back to mobile. I don't like to be narrow-minded. To me it's boring to go to the same area every day.

I love my job. Even if there's an enquiry for a trip during the rainy season, I don't mind doing it. I trust my driving skills and it is a very beautiful time to be on safari. I have also worked on safaris for people with disabilities, which I liked. I will always help if I can. If I'm out 150 days a year, it's a good year.

The National Parks in Botswana are huge! Do you ever get lost?
Well, sometimes guides can get lost, but they will mostly pretend they know what they are doing! Timing is very important, because in most parks you can't drive around after 6:30pm. So until you get used to how far you've gone from camp you can't utilise your time properly.

The first time I came to Savuti was with my employer. The next day, he left and I was alone. It's impossible to learn about an area in two nights, so it's up to you to keep it "in here" (taps his head).

Many maps aren't useful, because they have places that don't exist anymore due to water and flooding. So it's just about taking it all in. Now, Savuti is my favourite place because it's where I started my guiding life and where I learnt to be a guide.

What are your best and worst experiences on safari?
Best: At the very start of my career, there was no radio communication. Three of us were taking guests on safari, and we all went off in different directions. I was the only one able to track some cheetahs and we ended up seeing them kill some prey. 
Worst: Also at the start of my career, I was with a group who desperately wanted to see lions. Finally, after a very long day I spotted them. I got so excited that I yelled out "Lions!" but we looked closer and it was just a wildebeest lying down.

How do you like to help your guests while they are on safari?
I make sure I listen to my guests' questions. If I don't know the answer, I like to go and read about it so I can teach them. I read a lot and I am always learning. At the start of the safari I like to ask my guests for their expectations. I write them down in a notepad, so that if you want to see a leopard I will try to make that happen.

I also like to make sure the guests are happy - I try to give them time to relax, because if you push them too hard they will get tired.

What are some of the lessons we can learn from the animals?
Animals have a comfort zone. We have them, and animals also have them. Sometimes when a lion is so relaxed, tourists are tempted to go closer. But if you break the comfort zone they will react. When we cross this zone, they will warn us. For example, with the lion it's through their tail.

Also, when the animal is concentrating on people he won't be doing his normal activities, so that's why we need to be quiet.

What makes us safe?
Well, I always think that I deserve to be here. I love the animals very much, and they surely must know how much I love and respect them. 

Do you have a safari experience you'd like to share? Leave a comment below. Then head to Twitter and Facebook to see articles, post images and enter great competitions. 

If you'd like to experience Spokes' beloved Botswana, why not check out our range of trips? Or browse all our destinations to meet an exciting Peregrine leader for yourself.

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