Various Kruger National Park campsites have become home to a community-based safari initiative that will see field guides handpicked from the communities neighbouring the park sharing their expertise with tourists. The field-guides will share traditional tales of African wildlife and cultural traditions with their clients, enlightening the clients and keeping their own culture alive.
Siyabona chose youths from the communities for training based on their proximity to the park and their passion for sharing their knowledge and culture. The guides are expected to train further initiates. Managing director Hans Gerrizen has said, “Siyabona Africa merely acts as a catalyst towards the guides running the show entirely unaided. We’ve supplied vehicle back-up and operational support.
We now confidently hand over to the community-based crew to assist in the advancement of the communities they so proudly and ably serve.” The guides will maintain tents pitched at the campsites and will prepare meals alongside visitors.
The usual safari activities, including game viewing, will be carried out. Traditional African cuisine will feature on the menu, with the guests encouraged to take part in meal preparation for special insight into traditional foods. Game drives will be conducted by two guides plus a driver, and after dinner guests will get to hear traditional stories.
Project manager Walter Smith has said, “The crew is young, proud and self-assured. They’re walking on Cloud Nine for this opportunity to pro-actively stake their claim in the Kruger Park tourism pie as opposed to being a mere cog in the tourism wheel.” Siyabona has issued a challenge to rival tour operators to shift from their complacency and take part in supporting Kruger’s communities.