Tour Guide experiences with Super Sande
By Ryan Blumton
Tour guides are very much the backbone of tourism in Botswana and in this week’s Echo Travel we speak to legendary tour guide, Super Sande about what it means to be a guide and to examine the scope of what the Covid-19 pandemic has meant for one of Botswana’s strongest economic sectors.
Sande lives in Gweta and has been working in and around the Makgadikgadi Pans since 1991 for Uncharted Africa Safaris to this day.
“I used to visit Birds and Game Botswana in Francistown and gained a lot of interest walking around those cages looking at animals, it was a semi-orphanage kind of place for animals. I started my duties working for Birds and Game Botswana,” Sande said.
He said that his guiding career at Uncharted Africa Safaris in 1994 by shadowing practicing guides who were already in the line of duty and helped them with menial jobs as they went about their guiding work.
Sande learnt most of what he knows from shadowing the qualified and experienced guides. “This led me to become fascinated and I would often trouble the guides for information though they were very open to sharing and that’s how I got into guiding,” Super said.
After acquiring enough knowledge, Sande decided to sit Professionals guiding examinations at the Botswana Wildlife Training Institution in Maun, becoming successful after failing a number of times.
Sande has said guiding tourists into Botswana’s pristine wilderness requires the development of skills and guides have to anticipate the needs of guests before guests even seek help “You need to be on time, you need to be prompt, listen to your guests, do all your briefings and understand what kind of movement is out there taking note of animal sounds and postures,” Sande said.
According to Sande, the safety of tourists on safari is the responsibility of the tour guide, besides just showing them the wilderness and this requires a fully rounded professional.
“There is a lot to being a guide and remember you won’t just be dealing with Batswana but with all nationalities, so you need to extend your knowledge to learning about the different nationalities and what they expect when they visit,” said Sander.
He regretted that unfortunately the industry has had to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. He added that it has been tough however and that the industry has gone through a troubling period of low visitor numbers and seen many of his colleagues lose their jobs.
“It has been one of the new experiences, we have been through recessions and civil unrests in different countries, which have caused people to stop traveling but what we are going through now is a very challenging pandemic that I don’t think anyone was prepared for. It’s something that opened our eyes in a big way,” Sande said.
He added that he expects tourists to flock to Botswana as soon as the borders are opened, adding that a beautiful Botswana awaits their arrivals following the good rains. He said he had been in contact with many tourists who cannot wait to receive their vaccine jabs and start travelling again.
During his career, Sande has received some accolades including being recognized as one of Africa’s best guides, and was also featured on the documentary series called Faces of Africa that shares the stories of interesting Africans.