Celebrate International Women’s day with an African safari
Conjure up an image of a safari guide and you’re most likely to come up with versions of a rugged, khaki clad fellow with binos slung around his neck and a rifle across his shoulder. That’s pretty much spot on apart from the man bit! There is in fact a growing bunch of wonderful female guides in sub-Saharan Africa and we thought we should celebrate these fabulous ladies on International Women’s Day.
The elephant conservationist
Saba Douglas-Hamilton is both a well-respected conservationist and charismatic safari camp owner. In fact she’s among our favourite people to work with. An excellent guide too, Saba knows the local Samburu wildlife, particularly its elephants, intimately. She runs Elephant Watch Camp, a gloriously idiosyncratic spot in the Samburu region of northern Kenya. Saba has spent years among Samburu’s elephants, and the camp is closely connected to Save the Elephants, the charity founded by her father Iain Douglas-Hamilton. The elephant herds in the area are well habituated allowing for some exceptional sightings.
Here’s a lovely interview we did with Saba ahead of one of her UK speaking tours, about her life growing up the bush, what it’s like to run a camp and her acclaimed conservation work.
The walking guide
Deb Tittle is without question one of Africa’s leading safari guides. Over the last 22 years she’s led nearly 3,000 walking safaris through the African wilderness. Having honed her skills working with renowned safari guides Robin Pope and Derek Shenton, she now runs her own operation at Mapazi Camp in a remote corner of Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park.
The reviews we receive of her exhilarating walking safaris are glowing (‘if you’ve been there and done that in Africa, you should find Deb and learn from her, she’s a master’, is typical), so we decided to ask her a little about her life in the bush. Read the Deb’s interview.
The mobile safari guide
Mobile safaris are wonderful if you want to get off the beaten track. Focusing on superb wildlife and awe-inspiring landscapes, they cover everything from wildlife drives and bush walks to canoeing and scenic flights. We’ve worked with Annelies Zonjee at Drumbeat Safaris for many years and asked what it’s like to run and host these magical safaris in Botswana’s Moremi Game Reserve.
Her interview with Alice gives a great insight into what it’s like to be an all-round super-woman in one of Africa’s most famous wildlife areas.
The Tanzania safari camp run by a women-only team.
“Dunia Camp didn’t start out with the idea of an all-female team,” says camp manageress Angel Vendeline Namshali, “everything just sort of fell into place. The camp slowly introduced more women until we ended up with an entirely female camp, including our guides, which is thriving in the middle of the Serengeti.”
These excerpts from an interview with Angel offer a glimpse into the life of the Dunia team.
What is the funniest/strangest thing you have experienced whilst being a camp manager?
One night while the camp was fully booked, we were invaded by a naughty elephant who broke into our charcoal fridge store as it smelled water melon from outside! It ate all the vegetables and fruits and also went to our storage water tank, punched the 10,000ltrs water tank and drank water with the other elephant in his group. This was real a nightmare as in the morning we had to explain to the guests that of what had befallen us. Guests had to have partial breakfast and we were running here and there looking to how we will feed our guests for lunch as we had neither vegetables nor fruits. Fortunately, all the guests were very friendly and understood the situation. Our office had to fly in some vegetables as driving the resupplying truck from Arusha to Serengeti would take 12hours.
What is the most special thing about having an all-female staff at Dunia Camp?
At first it seemed to be a strange idea. It has however proved the other way round! So many men had different feelings on having all women together working in the bush. They thought that we will be very scared with animals, and we can’t cooperate and work as one – they were not looking to the positive side of a woman! Women can do anything that can be done by any other person in this world. By having all an women camp it has proved that we have a lot of women out there with the capacity and interest to work in the camp.
Dunia Camp sits in a serene spot in the heart of the Serengeti, its eight tents surrounded by plentiful resident wildlife. If the wildebeest migration is on your tick list, it’s a fabulous choice too since it sits on a major migration corridor.
If these guides have inspired you to travel, we would be delighted to help you plan a holiday, or answer any questions about our safaris. Our team of experts have travelled widely throughout Africa. They 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.