September is Tourism Month
Many people consider game ranging as a career. They are often attracted by their love of wildlife and the outdoors, the opportunity of making a contribution to protecting flora and fauna, or often to avoid a boring nine-to-five job and being in an office. Having just returned from a wonderful trip to Sabi Sabi, I look at this career option quite differently. It is a calling, a vocation that requires immense passion. It is surely a privilege to be learning something new about nature every moment of the day, and to then be able to share it with people who have an interest in what Mother Nature has presented to us?
There is a downside to every profession. In addition to obtaining a formal qualification, hours of exposure are needed in the form of an internship, before securing yourself a job. Only then do you know what is expected of you. Game rangers, and the rest of the team working in a lodge, get up really early to get ready for a game drive, hours before the guests are wiping the sleep out of their eyes to get onto the clean, prepared vehicle. Blankets are folded, hot water bottles are filled, refreshments are ready so that the guests are warm and happy. We asked endless questions of Tayla, our guide, and she answered most of them with confidence and ease. When we asked something of her that she was not sure of, she said so, did some homework and answered a little later. I never knew that guides each have their own special interest – hers is frogs. For many it is birds, for others the flora. I was astounded at her comprehensive and in-depth knowledge, making it obvious that her learning is ongoing.
After the bottling of Sabi Sabi’s first wine, with Stellenrust, at which we all corked and labelled, Tayla enjoyed dinner with the guests, ensuring that everyone was well looked after, only retiring to bed for a few hours sleep after the last guest left. It was her voice I heard on the other side of the telephone when we got our wake-up call!
If you are considering game ranging as your career, know that in addition to long hours, you will need to cope with isolation, working for weeks before a few days off. You will need to be able to function as a vital cog in the finely tuned machinery that makes the entire experience a wonder for guests. A game ranger is in the hospitality industry, where personal service makes it special. People don’t leave only talking about seeing the big five, they talk about how they felt. A brand is an experience, and every person in a team makes that experience happen. Think carefully about the contribution that you are making to your team.