Born and raised in the bushveld of the Okavango Delta, Head Guide at African Bush Camps’ Botswana camps, Dutch Bihelang Kasale, was destined to guide tourists through the wilderness of Botswana.
Kasale grew up 12km from the nearest village and spent his childhood learning to track the family’s livestock through the bush. When he reached school-going age, his father taught him how to survive animal encounters on the long walks to school in the village.
“Elephants have a very good sense of smell, but because they are big, they are oblivious to you,” Kasale recalled how his father taught him to walk around the giant beasts and stay downwind.
Kasale’s childhood experiences served him well later in life when conservation efforts in Botswana intensified around 1994. “There was a lot of conflict between the wildlife and people in the area,” he said, explaining that as animal populations grew their territories moved closer to the villages.
It was during this time that conservationists came from abroad to teach the locals about the importance of conservation and how to resolve conflicts with the animals. As one of the young people in the village who could speak some English, Kasale became a translator for the conservationists and, through this, volunteered to become a community guide.
He did this for over 12 years, collecting information and learning from professional safari guides, ultimately inspiring him to enrol in guide school. Because of his background and love of nature, Kasale knew that being a guide would be the best job he could have.
After training, internships and more on-the-job learning, Kasale began guiding professionally in 2011 and joined the African Bush Camps team in 2014, where Founder of African Bush Camps, Beks Ndlovu, gave him the opportunity.
Kasale went on to become head guide for the Botswana camps, thanks to what he describes as the high potential for growth at African Bush Camps. “The potential for promotion here is as strong as the waters in the Okavango River right now after the flood season. It’s very good!”
Despite African Bush Camps’ properties being closed due to national lockdown, Kasale said the teams have remained active on the properties. “We try to social distance in the safari vehicles and go out into the bush where we can learn from each other.”