Interviews with Somak driver guides
Being a driver guide is not the easiest job in the world, but it’s arguably one of the best. When your office is the Serengeti and you get the chance to see wild animals on a daily basis, it’s no wonder that our driver guides love their job.
At Somak, we have dedicated driver guides who pride themselves in knowing much about the local flora and fauna. They are always ready to impart their expertise and enthusiasm to their guests as they drive around the African plains. We took the opportunity to talk to some of our driver guides to find out a bit more about what they do and why they love it.
Martin Weru – Kenya
Martin Weru has been a driver guide at Somak for about 13 years. He speaks English, Spanish, and Italian, which is perfect as he communicates daily with guests from all over the world. “I love my job,” he exclaims, “because it’s a great opportunity to meet new people from different parts of the world and get to learn about their culture.” Being a driver guide means that Martin has seen some sensational stuff over the years. His most memorable moment was when he saw a troop of baboons being attacked by a pride of lions: “When the baboons spotted the lionesses, they ran to the nearest tree they could climb. Unfortunately, one climbed a short tree, which was not a problem for the lioness who caught and ate him.”
Since he lives and works in Kenya, Martin is passionate about the Masai Mara. “The best time to come to Kenya on safari is any time,” he says. “But my pick is in July-October,” he later admits. The annual wildebeest migration takes place between July and October, from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. “If you are lucky,” he adds, “you may get to witness the crossing of the Mara River, where the wildebeest and accompanying zebra fall prey to crocodiles – it’s quite spectacular.” As a top tip, Martin suggests that guests take a pair of binoculars, a camera, and guidebooks with them while on safari; “if you’re interested in birds or plants it would be best to have those books,” he advises.
Gobe Motshidise – Botswana
The Chobe Game Lodge in Botswana is home to the Chobe Angels; an all-female guiding team. Gobe Motshidise, 26, is one such Angel and she’s passionate about her work: “It always makes me happy when I meet people that have come to Africa for the first time as they are always so amazed by the surroundings. I also love explaining our culture and how we live,” she exclaims. She feels that working in the bush teaches her a lot about life: “You learn how to be patient, use all your tools correctly and make sure you have the right knowledge about the environment and the animals,” she says. “And of course you always have to ensure your guests are happy,” she adds with a smile.
Twelve years ago, there were only two female guides at Chobe Game Lodge out of a team of 12, and very few in the rest of the country. Management decided the time was right to see more women in senior tourism roles and so, working with Botswana Wildlife Training Institute, they started recruiting and training until they had an all-female team. “If you know how to change your tyres, use your tools and have appropriate training, then men and women should be considered as equals,” she says. In actual fact, the Chobe Angels have proven themselves to be better drivers. “It seems that women are more cautious and help extend the life of our engines,” she explains.
Being a pioneer and leading the way for other female driver guides is something Gobe is very proud of: “I have definitely noticed that safari companies have started to hire more women guides. The Chobe Angels have shown Botswana and the world that females are considered an equal in this industry.”
Meet our driver guides
Africa is a diverse continent with much to offer. If you’re interested in seeing it for yourself, and meeting some of our excellent driver guides, call us now on 020 8423 3000.