Return of the rustic bush camps

Nov 21st, 2007, 01:32 PM
  #41  
 
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(sorry for delay - access to forum is intermittent).

In response to VeeR, I didn't mean to quote anyone - it was based on my own experience of about 6 WS camps and lodges. Only one - Damaraland, in Namibia - was run by a local. The rest had South AFrican managers parachuted in.
A recent trip to Kwando has shown me that locals can be excellent managers without the need of help from enthusiastic guys from neighbouring countries.

I am just puzzled by this almost total reliance WS have on "imported" managers in Namibia and Botswana. Did someone say its what a lot of clients want or expect?
mcwomble is offline  
Nov 21st, 2007, 02:40 PM
  #42  
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If you make the assumption that a service provider always delivers what clients expect, then it's true.

In case of guides, from my experience as more upmarket a place goes as more its clients expect western standards which includes being fluent in English language and having good knowledge of western culture. I encountered situations where the guide's knowledge of the differences between Diet Coke and Classic Coke seem to be regarded as far more important than the differences between a giant and pied kingfisher.

From a strict business point of view, why should an operator spend money into the education of local people to meet these standards if there is a huge supply of skilled workers from SA, Zim or even Europe?
nyama is offline  
Nov 21st, 2007, 03:03 PM
  #43  
 
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I think it was at Phinda, where they quoted N Mandela, to the effect that, if a game reserve didn't involve the local people, then, in the long run, that reserve will fail. In short, People are more important than animals.

CCA seem to find sound business reasons for involving more and more local people and communities, and WS seem to be going that way, but they seem unable to entrust the running of a camp to anyone but a South African. But, if thats what their clients want, then who am I to argue.
mcwomble is offline  
Nov 21st, 2007, 05:12 PM
  #44  
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Read what Kitso Mokaila (Botswanan minister of Environment/Wildlife/Tourism) said last year, "Mokaila talks hardball",
www.gov.bw/cgi-bin/news.cgi?d=20060614

I like this one:
"...most operators have reservations and administrative offices outside the country to the extent that even domestic tourists have to make their reservations outside the country.
...With considerable improvements in the telecommunications services in Botswana over the past ten years, we do not see why it is still necessary for Batswana and local residents going on holiday locally to make their hotel reservations outside the country."

I just try to imagine this would happen in our countries...
but of course, Botswana is something different.
nyama is offline  
Nov 21st, 2007, 05:18 PM
  #45  
 
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give me a local guide over a prep-school South African in his starched khakis anyday!
matnikstym is offline  
Nov 21st, 2007, 06:20 PM
  #46  
 
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Mcwomble,

You meet Jonah and Lebo at Lagoon camp? They are both excellent!!!
HariS is offline  
Nov 21st, 2007, 06:24 PM
  #47  
 
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Nyama,

I don't fully agree with you. On my CCA visit last week (Incia, not Africa) .... they have naturalists (indian term for guide/ranger) who are extremely well educated, extremely bush savvy with a complete feel for the bush(brilliant guiding/work ethic), computer savvy (they all have blogsites and photo sites) and they are all extremely well read and can communicate with their clients in terms of just about any conversation. And, they are all Indian, ofcourse .......

Hari
HariS is offline  
Nov 21st, 2007, 07:13 PM
  #48  
 
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I don't care where the guides and managers come from as long as they do a good job.

Many years ago, in the then Australian territory of Papua, we took a weekend holiday charter flight to the Trobriand Islands (islands of love ). Our pilot in those challenging skies was an American kid with fresh bum-fluff cheeks. Great pilot!

Then-- I've told the story before-- the local management team at Kwando Lagoon let clients down by making them wait for a late arrival and consequently delaying their day 1 afternoon game drive until it was virtually a waste of time going out at all. A good manager would not have let that happen.

John
afrigalah is offline  
Nov 21st, 2007, 07:40 PM
  #49  
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Hari -- don't get me wrong. I also had fantastic local guides in Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe, very knowledgable, educated, with photographic and computer skills, also entertaining, even one with an university degree who loved to do this kind of 'field work'.

But asked the operators how difficult it is to get such people. Most local guides are from rural areas, they hadn't the chance to visit high school, they hadn't much contact to western people and they didn't know much about the 'ins' and 'outs' of the western world. It can take years to teach them correct English, to make them learn that we have no idea about wildlife and that they must speak to us during game drives, to educate them how to behave 'correct' at the lounge or during dinner, and how to do entertaining 'small talk'. And some will never learn to do it right with these 'strange' clients...

And the very few talented who are learning all this within days, are also those who quit first to start their own businesses or making a career in town.

Have you ever spoken with guides and camp owners/managers about all this?

It's not an easy decision for an operator to make this investment into the education of local people when he only has a time-limited lease of a concession or if there are other people available on the foreign job market who already have all the basic skills. There is some risk in it, I understand this.

However I'm convinced that operators MUST do this investment for the sake of conservation and the foundation of their businesses in the long-term. Local people must be involved into conservation and they must participate and benefit from tourism enterprises. Otherwise we will loose these conservation areas.
nyama is offline  
Nov 21st, 2007, 07:55 PM
  #50  
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PS: To make it clear, my 11/21/2007 05:40pm post was meant as pure sarcasm.
nyama is offline  
Nov 21st, 2007, 08:03 PM
  #51  
 
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Nyama,

Thanks for the clarification ..... i had originally taken that seriously.

I agree with John, i don't care where the people come from .... as long as they do their job. I have had several great camp management people in Botswana, who were from SA (yes, Kwando included .....) and on the whole, were pretty darn good.

Hari
HariS is offline  
Nov 21st, 2007, 09:06 PM
  #52  
 
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Oh, and my first-ever guide in Africa was an Aussie (with WS).
Some of my American companions at the time have since guided him around NYC in appreciation.

Nyama, I've first-hand experience of the kind of problems you mention in your latest post. When I worked for a few years in pre-independence Papua New Guinea in the late 60s, Australia (with the UN looking over its shoulder) had to 'localise' quickly...and it wasn't easy and probably not terribly successful either. I was involved in journalism and broadcasting training, and the problems we faced had little to do with intelligence and aptitude and much to do with people meeting the challenge of finding their way when they had little idea what they wanted or needed to do and inadequate education to back it up. Ironically, I met the same problem while lecturing Australian school-leavers 20 years later...many of them were hopelessly incompetent because they had no idea what they wanted to do and chose journalism because it looked easy. Look at the number of bad journalists in the world, and know how hard it is!

That said, most of the guides I've had in Botswana (Selinda and Kwando) have been local young men, and they've been very good to excellent. They've ranged from blokes who've done environmental and conservation studies and are making good progress in the safari business, to fellows who started out as supply truck drivers and learned so much about guiding so quickly that the concession owners could not ignore their skills. They should be praised, but so should the fairly rare hands-on concession holders who have more on their minds than making money.


John
afrigalah is offline  
Dec 4th, 2007, 08:33 PM
  #53  
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Safari Adventure Company (WS) have announced their first camp: 12-roomed Rocktail Beach Camp (in SA) will open in two weeks. Details will be available in the near future at www.safari-adventure-company.com.
nyama is offline  
Dec 4th, 2007, 11:55 PM
  #54  
 
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ahhh so one camp at Rocktail Bay was not enough....

I so agree I hate the fact that they are trying to rule Southern Africa and monopolise it.

They have so many camps in Botswana it became commercialised and now they are doign the same to Zambia which is a huge pity, and all they are trying to do is cover it up by saying rustic, I gaurantee you in 2 years time they will upgrade them all and say that necessity demanded it.
Doogle is offline  
Dec 5th, 2007, 02:15 AM
  #55  
sniktawk
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Doogle

May I say that I agree with your comments entirely.
 
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