by Kosie Lategan, Tswalu Head Guide
This year has been a strange and challenging year, because of lockdown and the halt to tourism, but there have been some positives. As guides, we had the opportunity to explore the reserve and learn new roads while carrying out security patrols as part of our duties while Tswalu’s camps were closed. It’s hard to believe that for many of us, after so many years on the reserve, there were still roads to explore for the first time and areas we didn’t know about. Without guests to take care of, we had the time to improve on our knowledge and do things we don’t always get time for, like spending time tracking on foot with fellow guides. Although we fulfilled an important role, contributing to Tswalu’s security patrols, after many months we all agreed that we missed being guides.
When we’re busy with guests, in the thick of things, we don’t often stop to appreciate how privileged we are to do what we love every day. Getting back into game drives, finding and viewing the special creatures on Tswalu, and interacting with guests again, after so many months, reminded me why I became a guide in the first place. Seeing the enjoyment and excitement on people’s faces is one of those things that never gets old for me. Exploring the Kalahari, building relationships and sharing these magical sightings with each other is what safari and being a guide is all about.
Once we were able to welcome guests back to the Motse in October, it took a drive or two to get used to all the procedures and health protocols while crafting the ultimate experiences for each of our guests based on their interests. It was truly amazing being out there again and tuning into what had changed, where the new den sites were and the whereabouts of a new cheetah mother and her cubs. Tswalu is known for its low guest footprint, and in the first few weeks of opening it was not uncommon to be one of two vehicles driving on the reserve.
All through lockdown, we spoke of nothing other than things returning to ‘normal’ and when we’d be able to get out there and do our thing. While slowly returning to normal and guiding more frequently, everyone has developed a newfound sense of appreciation for what we do and where we do it. The more we enjoy our job, the better guides we are!