With the 2019/2020 season well underway and guides keen to put their skills into action it seems only right to reflect on the year gone by and the hard work and efforts put in by those out in the bush, passing on their knowledge to the guests of Selous Safari Company.
Brian Bode, who heads up the guide training, has just shy of two decades experience as a guide and has, over the last few years, been teaching those willing and ready to take on the challenge of becoming a safari guide themselves. In addition, Brian has developed a bespoke extended training program for existing guides adapted from the highly regarded Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) curriculum. Whilst based on FGASA principles, Brian has tailored the programme to suit the precise typology, language and terminology of Southern Tanzania.
Last year, before the season opened, our guides partook an intense training course, including teambuilding, building effective communications, guiding skills and of course enhancing their expertise on all areas of the bush. This kicked off with an off-site course at SSC’s beach lodge on the Swahili coast, Ras Kutani.
Throughout the following season, guides at both Jongomero and Siwandu underwent intense practical and theoretical Guide Skills Extension training to ensure they know everything “from ants to astrology” to quote Brian. Whilst our guests are relaxing between game drives, our hard-working and ambitious guides headed to the classroom for some course-work. After 10 months of academic study, complementing the hours of practical experience in the bush, the guides were ready to face exam day.
This year guides met at Siwandu for the exam, and for some at Jongomero it was their first time visiting the camp. It is considered very important for guides to see and know both camps as this gives them insight into where their guests have just visited or where they will be moving on to. The word “exam” incites fear into even the most studious, and therefore many of the guides were quite nervous. It also must not be forgotten that for most guides English is their second or often third language, therefore to study and sit an exam in English is quite the feat.
We would like to congratulate all the guides this year on passing their Selous Safari Guide exams. Whilst the bush is the greatest classroom of all for safari guides, hard work and studious application at the desk has played an important part in the expertise development of our SSC guides.