Spending a morning poling through the Okavango Delta in a mokoro with guide Spongy Makgetho was one of the best moments of our Botswana safari. From our perch just above the water level we floated among water lilies and watched fish eagles, African jacanas, malachite kingfishers and a long reed frog. We also found out more about the guide who likes to learn.
‘I want to learn new things and at Baobab they only do game drives,’ he says. Here at Xigera he’s already learnt to drive a motorboat and to pole a mokoro. He laughs when I ask how long it took him to master the difficult art of balance needed to control a mokoro. ‘It took about a week, but I went for a few swims while I learnt,’ he admits.
As is natural for a guide who works in the bush, he’s had many encounters with animals. But he vows that he’s never felt the situation wasn’t under control, even when he was mock charged by lions. ‘As a guide you’re taught to read an animal and its behaviour,’ he says. It means you can usually back off before there’s any serious trouble. And that instinct is what keeps your guests safe.
His ambition is one day to work at a camp where he can learn to lead bush walks. At Xigera guests can’t explore on foot because it’s right on the border of Moremi National Park, where night drives and bush walks aren’t allowed. At Wilderness Safaris camps that are in private concessions, however, it’s another story.
* This is part of a series called Voices of Botswana, which shares the stories of some of the people we met on our Botswana adventure. You can find them all in the people category of this blog.