My Botswana – Q&A with Uncharted Africa guide Chabba

December 27th 2018  |  Botswana  |  by  Rosanna Pile
Chabba - safari guide Q&A with Rosanna

As part of our training at Aardvark Safaris every member of the sales team travels on familiarisation trips, affectionately known as a ‘fam trip’, to trial camps and safaris first hand. My recent fam trip included a circuit of Botswana – a country in which we organise many holidays.

Having a great guide is something we know can make all the difference between a good safari and an outstanding safari. An exceptional guide has an excellent sense of humour, eyes like a hawk, engaging story telling ability and complete infatuation with the wildlife and bush that surrounds them.  I am delighted to introduce Chabadimaketse Selei better known as ‘Chabba’, my guide from Uncharted Africa, who epitomises an exceptional guide. During a sundowner one evening I caught up with him to learn about his journey to becoming a guide.

How long have you been a safari guide for?

I have been guiding for over 12 yrs now and have spent the whole of this time in the Makgadikgadi Pans.

Have you always loved wildlife?

I showed an interest from a young age when I would visit the ‘Birds and Game’ animal orphanage in Francistown which helps to educate the public about the country’s wildlife and conservation. Jack Bousfield (founder of Jack’s camp) had a strong connection with the program and helped to fund it. That is where I first met him and started to follow his work up until he died.

Jack Bousfield by Frans Lanting

Jack Bousfield showing ancient hunting tool (4,000-10,000 years old), Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana by Frans Lanting

How did you get into guiding?

With government funding I was lucky to secure a place in Oklahoma, studying to become a biologist from 2001-2004 and after that I worked at the Africa Research Centre. During this time, I continued to visit the ‘Birds and Game’ animal orphanage and got back in touch with Jack’s Camp, now run by his son Ralph, and was soon offered a job working there.

Jacks Camp dining room, Makgadikgadi Botswana

Jack’s Camp dining room, Makgadikgadi Botswana

Which camps have you worked at?

I have spent the majority of my time at Jack’s Camp but I have also guided at San Camp and Camp Kalahari.

San Camp

San Camp twin tent interior

What do you like most about guiding?

I really love being around people from different nationalities and backgrounds. I am a people person and enjoy seeing their reactions when we are on safari. I also have a strong connection to the environment and love watching it change throughout the seasons.

San Camp meerkats

San Camp meerkats

What is your favourite time of year?

Mmmm…. Probably in between rains when it is dry and not too hot. The pans are beginning to dry out and the animals are frequently around camp and the waterholes.

Zebra herds at San Camp

Zebra herds at San Camp during the dry season in Botswana

The great zebra migration, Botswana

The great zebra migration during the wet season in Botswana

What is the hardest part of job?

I find looking after guests who have no background knowledge of what to expect on safari quite tricky. Some guests haven’t done any research on where they are going, what the weather might be like and how to be open minded on safari when it comes to wildlife and experiences. I wish more guests want to come and learn about the way of life in Botswana and be adaptable to changing situations.

Have you ever been in any dangerous situations?

I try to be as alert as possible so to avoid being put in a dangerous situation however sometimes it can be out of my hands. On one occasion an Italian couple were adamant that all they want to see was lion and due to it being the dry season there was very little wildlife around so they were proving quite hard to find. On the third day we went searching for lion again. For some reason they were both wearing red jumpers which I told them to take off as it would affect the animal’s behaviour. They wouldn’t take them off though. We then came across a lioness and the guests kept standing up and moving around the vehicle to get a better view of the lion, another no-no on safari, which was agitating the lioness who started running towards the vehicle. Unfortunately, we got stuck in the ground for a bit, I kept telling the guests to sit down. Luckily just before the lioness got too close, we managed to drive off. I was not at all happy with the way the guests behaved and wouldn’t listen to me. After that they said ‘no more lion’.

Any questions on a Botswana safari?

If you’ve got this far and not found an answer to a question you have that we should have included, please ask in the comments section below, or pop us an email. We’ll be sure to reply and may amend the article to include our answer.

What next?

We would be delighted to help you plan a holiday, or answer any questions if you’re at an earlier stage. Our team of experts have travelled widely throughout Africa and can help you plan a safari in Africa. We can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris. If you would like to talk to someone who has been there and done it, please just send us an email or give us a call.

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