Righting the World

A recent African Travel and Tourism Association article introduced one of the industry’s first completely female-run safaris at Alex Walker’s Serian, where all activities can be 100% led by females including camping, photography, ballooning, night drives, walking safaris and yoga sessions.

Aside from most of the working world, the safari industry in particular has always been male-dominated, with some key tribal cultures traditionally either forbidding or working against the educating of girls. The remarkable story of Evaline Sintoya Mayetu, a guide at Naboisho Camp in the Maasai Mara, who tells in a Forbes Article of how she was forced out of her home when she was six when she began to sneak into a local school to start learning, illustrates just how difficult it is for women to get the start required for competing on an even footing in the world of safari making.

It’s not just a problem limited to traditional cultural perspectives. In a recent Huffington Post article Jenifer Denton found entry into the industry difficult, with many a job application batted back on the basis of gender. ‘Guiding,’ she was told, ‘isn’t a job for women, you’re entering into a man’s world’. Such responses only increased her determination and after much work and persistence, Denton found a well-suited post and is now Mwiba Lodge‘s Guide Trainer and Anthropologist.

What Mayetu, Denton and the unbridled success of Chobe Lodge’s all-woman guiding team (an industry first) clearly show is that women are just as capable as men when it comes to organising and leading safaris. Indeed, if guest feedback from Chobe Lodge is anything to go by, their work is such that the bar is continually being raised, in all areas. This isn’t to downplay the work of some of the industry’s male guides, many of whom are extraordinary, but rather to illustrate that the skills, qualities and experience that someone brings to a team is never limited by gender.

To end, meet 27 year old Francine Bwizabule Muhimuzi, a ranger at Virunga National Park. One of the first women to have completed the brutal training course run by former Belgian commandos. She is one of 15 women working in one of Africa’s most vulnerable parks, and the fact that it is open, and continues to attract frontier travellers is testament to the work of Muhimuzi and her colleagues, male or female.

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