A Jenman African Safaris Guide is a truly multi-faceted individual who is required to drive our guests safely over what can be thousands of kilometers in a single safari (this also frequently involves specialized 4×4 driving). At the same time our guide needs to inform and educate our guests on a wide range of subjects such as fauna, flora, local cultures, history, geography, politics, and a host of other subjects. Our guide has to be constantly aware of the guests’ safety and comfort at all times, whilst still ensuring that nothing detracts from their enjoyment of what should be a trip of a lifetime. He or she has to constantly manage the timings of the safari in order to ensure that the group have frequent breaks and yet still arrive at their destinations with enough time to fully appreciate the local attractions.
Our guide needs to cater for the guests meals, manage the trip finances, deal with various border formalities, maintain his or her vehicle, deal with any hiccups on the safari and through it all be affable, attentive and informative. With such an enormous amount of responsibility resting on the guides shoulders, it is not surprising that Jenman Africa Safaris only makes use of the best guides that the industry has to offer; we look for guides that truly love their work and have a constant thirst for knowledge.
Given all of the above, JAS management believes that it is important for the guides to get together on a frequent basis to share ideas and experiences, and also to refresh their knowledge and guiding skills; and so we recently held a guide’s workshop from the 9th to the 13th of February 2009 at the Apostle Battery A in Llandudno, Cape Town. The Battery was a naval defense base built during World War II, and although the base was built for the war, apparently only a single practice round was fired from its guns, the noise of which shattered quite a few of the neighborhood windows. After the war it became redundant and has since been converted into a multipurpose venue for conferences, camps and the likes thereof.
Twenty six of our current and potential guides were able to attend the workshop, some from as far away as Livingstone in Zambia and Zimbabwe, and we were to spend the next five days at the Battery living and learning together. The workshop started on Monday morning, 9 February at 07h30 with the guides each introducing themselves and giving a bit of background information on the kind of guiding that they had done over the last season and in which areas each individual specialized. Managing Director, Garth Jenman took the floor after this and welcomed everyone to the workshop. Garth explained to the guides how Jenman Safaris started, where it was at the moment and where Jenman Safaris was headed for the future.
The guides were then divided up into groups of four and each group was assigned a day in which they would be responsible for the meal preparation. A menu had been compiled for the week which was aimed at teaching guides new recipes that they could make use of on tours and so even the meal preparation and planning was to be a learning tool used during the workshop. Lunch for day one was pita bread with a choice of chicken or beef fillings, and a variety of salads.
After lunch we all headed off to hike around the Sentinel, a craggy peak right on the shores of Hout Bay. This is a beautiful hike that takes you within a stones’ throw of the famous Seal Island. It takes about two and a half hours to complete and although not very strenuous, did involve a fairly steep climb towards the end of the hike. Hiking is a great way to create a team building environment and was also an opportunity for us to be able to assess the fitness levels of the guides.
The next morning was an early wake up call as a breakfast of bacon and eggs had to be prepared. Day 2 of the workshop was to be spent covering the Jenman Safaris Guide’s Manual. Every aspect of the manual was discussed in detail and the guides were required to give feedback and contribute any new ideas or experiences. Very much like a Guides’ knowledge, the JAS Guides Manual with its’ store of knowledge gained over years of experience, is constantly being updated with each passing season.
In the late afternoon we had arranged that the guides partake in an obstacle course that was situated on the Apostle Battery site. This was a great team building experience and a good way to clear the mind after hours spent in the lecture hall. The guides were divided into two teams and a lot of laughs were had by all! Some of the guides ended up with a few war scars from the obstacle course, and all of them were worn out by the time we got back home.
Read the next post that continues from this blog about Day 2 to 4 including the guides 4×4 experience!