African Bush Camps believes that ongoing education is key to nurturing quality. With that in mind, every year all African Bush Camps’ properties are closed for a week of guide training. Industry professionals focus on enhancing what African Bush Camps believes are the top ten qualities of a professional guide:
- Wildlife knowledge
Zimbabwe alone has 685 bird species and 189 mammals. The primary skill is to know characteristics, habits and signs of wildlife and be able to interpret them in a way that allows the guide to educate guests in a meaningful manner.
- Safe Practice
Professional guides undergo five years of rigorous training in Zimbabwe. As guides are surrounded by an array of potential dangers, which include five of the top ten most dangerous animals in the world according to Conde Nast Traveler, guides are single-handedly responsible for guest safety while in the wild. Weapon handling, first aid and understanding animal behaviour are vital skills to maintain guest and peer safety.
"I believe that the world’s solution to crisis will be derived from nature and that’s why I believe the survival of the world’s wilderness areas is key to the survival of humanity," says Beks Ndlovu, professional Guide, Founder and CEO of African Bush Camps. Our guides are nature’s teachers. They live and breathe community and conservation and they hold themselves accountable for the preservation of our surroundings.
African Bush Camps’ guides understand the needs of photographers and are trained in basic photography techniques to assist guests. Guides naturally position guests with the best angle and light to capture special moments. A photograph captures and stores a memory for a lifetime and an African story is worthy of a lifetime memory.
- Driving skills
The best 4X4 driving skills are required to combat all terrains: while tracking spoor, identifying birds and animals, answering guest questions, warning of stray branches and reducing the ‘African massage’ along the way. This is often an understated ability.
African Bush Camps guides (entire teams, actually) are born and bred in the countries where camps operate. Guides are educated on the cultural and political history. They have lived as a part of the ecosystem and evolved with it, giving them a lifetime of first-hand knowledge.
The art of reading nature’s headlines. The clues to who/what had been in the area, what transpired and where are they now? Identifying the signs is key to maximising wildlife sightings.
Guides are the centre of attention! The right balance of humour, knowledge and sensitivity to guests is essential. A strong character is required to manage a variety of personalities and moods while dealing with one’s own personal emotions and conflicts. There is no room for a guide to have a bad day.
The beauty of the wild is just that -- it’s wild. Sightings can’t be guaranteed, and scenes are unpredictable. African Bush Camps’ guides minimise luck and utilise skill to read nature’s signs - an intuitive quality that is developed through experience. Patience combined with knowledge and experience are what make a good guide great.
To tailor activities to guests' needs and interests and remain responsive, significant communication skills are required. Without the ability to communicate, all other skills are meaningless.
African Bush Camps recognises that its guides are the golden thread, weaving the team together to achieve our values; to share and conserve Africa together.