Elewana Collection continues to invest in Guide training in order to ensure we have the best Guides to provide a superior experience to our guests when they stay at an Elewana property. We also want to improve the standard of guiding across the industry and are passionate about the people who work for us, ensuring we invest continuously in their development and the community around us. Part of this is our Guide Apprentice Program that Craig McFarlane, (Head of Guide Training) has developed, which recognises the responsibility that a guide has for ensuring all guests to Africa leave having felt a connection with the environment on which we all depend, and a respect for its surrounding communities and custodians – the fundamentals that underpin the ethos that drives Elewana and our Land and Life Foundation.
This month we took some time to speak with two of the apprentices that have completed the first year and now face the challenges of year two. Solomon Epodo Epokor is from Kenya and is 27 years old with a passion for wild spaces and its wildlife. Steven Losaru is 25 years old Tanzanian and loves his country and wants to share his knowledge with those that visit. We asked them a few questions and here is what they had to say;
WHAT MADE YOU APPLY FOR THE GUIDING APPRENTICE PROGRAM WITH ELEWANA COLLECTION?
Solomon: “The Elewana Apprentice program offers a one of a kind guide training in East Africa and I believe this will benefit me. Elewana is recognized for having the best Guide trainer, plus the program incorporates the FGASA syllabus and I wanted to be involved in it. The apprentice program covers a number of training aspect that I feel will help me advance my career and have an advantage over other guides that have not gone through this training.”
Steven: “The reputation of Elewana is high and among the organizations that are leading the tourism industry in Tanzania. So this is where i believe the apprenticeship will help me to gain essential guiding experience, skills, and recognition qualification in the tourism industry.”
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS YOU HAVE COVERED SO FAR IN THE TRAINING?
Solomon: “It covers everything from the Kitchen and dealing with food and knowing every aspect, Front of house department and serving guests, Reception, Laundry, Workshop, for basic vehicle upkeep to the Maintenance department and helping in general camp duties and activities.”
Steven: “I have covered various things in the different departments, as I did my rotation around the different Elewana properties. I learned how to prepare cocktails, picnic foods, (lunch and breakfast), basic vehicle maintenance and relating to guests in the guiding department so that i can provide an exceptional guest experience.”
WHICH AREA OF THE TRAINING PROGRAM DO YOU FIND THE MOST INTERESTING?
Solomon: “The area of training that deals with Guiding, I find the most interesting as this is my lifetime dream.”
Steven: “The 30 days in the kitchen were the most interesting because I like preparing food and serving people who enjoy experiencing different dishes. My focus was on preparing the breakfast meals and breakfast and lunch humpers.”
WHAT AREA OF THE TRAINING WAS THE HARDEST?
Solomon: “Kitchen was the hardest since I have never worked in a kitchen and handled food stuffs like this. I was very happy when my kitchen rotation was over. ”
Steven: “The Maintenance department was the hardest part in the training program because I didn't have enough skills on carpentry, masonry, plumbing, electricity and I had to cooperate on the activities with the expert on the sub department. It was hard for me to catch up for that short period of time.”
IN WHICH AREAS OF KENYA / TANZANIA HAVE YOU BEEN TRAINING?
Solomon: “All over from thr Masai Mara to Meru, Amboseli to Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Loisaba Conservancy. I got to work in nearly every Elewana property in Kenya.”
Steven: “I have been training in the northern circuit national park, where our lodges are placed, Tarangire (WMA), Ngorongoro and Serengeti, which gives us the opportunity to explore these fascinating areas so that we can become an expert on our working area.”
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO BE IN THE GUIDING PROFESSION?
Solomom: “Growing up in wildlife dominated areas and under the mentorship of my father, who was a Kenyan game ranger, inspired me to become a Guide. My passion and interest for wildlife encouraged me to go into the tourism and hospitality industry as I want to help conserve and protect Kenyan culture and its wildlife but also share it with people from around the world, including my fellow Kenyans.”
Steven: “I love and am passionate about nature and being out in the field, this encouraged me to be a guide. I want to be an ambassador for the environment and share my knowledge on wildlife and their habitats.”
WHAT DOES BEING A GUIDE MEAN TO YOU?
Solomon: “Sharing my knowledge and experience with others and providing the best guest experience and meeting their safari expectations.”
Steven: “Guiding to me is being part of it and acting as a link between people and attractions by sharing the beauty of nature, factual knowledge and interpreting what is going on in any given environment.”
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FORWARD TO MOST WHEN YOU BECOME A GUIDE?
Solomon: “Being the best experienced guide on the planet and working for my dream safari company - Elewana Collection.”
Steven: “I am looking forward to being an exceptional guide who provides an exceptional experience to my guest.”
WHAT ASPIRATIONS DO YOU HAVE AS A GUIDE IN THE FUTURE?
Solomon: “Being at the top of my field and being a wildlife and conservation ambassador. I would also like to travel to other Africa and European countries and see the different wildlife they have.”
Steven: “I want to become a professional guide who can provide excellent service and experience to guests. I also want to become a positive influence in the guiding profession by training the next generation of Guides.””
IF YOU HAD TO PICK ONE PLACE IN KENYA / TANZANIA WHERE WOULD THAT BE AND WHY?
Solomon: “ I love many places in Kenyas but to work at Lewa Safari Camp and Kifaru House would be amazing, as each they are located in one of the best role model Conservancy in Kenya.”
Steven: “I would choose the Island of Zanzibar. The island has some of the best beaches in the world with clear soft white sand and clear shallow waters. It just amazing being there.”
WHICH IS YOUR MOST FAVOURITE ANIMAL AND WHY?
Solomon: “I love all animal’s but the Leopard represents my Turkana Clan (Ngirithae) and I feel a special attachment to it.”
Steven: “My absolute favourite animal is a cheetah. It’s one that I want to see the most because of their spotted pattern, eyes, color of the body, how fast they are and lastly cheetahs have the cutest babies… so adorable.”
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE PEOPLE TO KNOW THAT HAVEN’T BEEN TO KENYA / TANZANIA BEFORE?
Solomon: “To know Kenyan wildlife, culture, history and how beautiful this country is.”.
Steven: “Tanzania is an incredible country with peace, unity, and a number of fabulous holiday experiences, ranging from an awesome safari among African wildlife, beautiful lakes, the highest mountain in Africa and the stone towns and many other activities – it has the most stunning areas in East Africa. Tanzania is the place to be.”