Meet our Camp Managers - 24 September 2018
Maurice Tissah and the team at Sanctuary Olonana
While many of us spend our days behind computer screens, daydreaming of our next big adventure, some are fortunate enough to work every day immersed in the heart of some of the world’s best wildlife-viewing regions, with such remarkable scenery no picture on the wall could ever do justice.
Introducing... Sanctuary Retreats’ Camp and Lodge Managers.
We recently caught up with the team to discover how their passion for safari and hospitality began, and to find out what it's really like when your office is the African bush.
Boy Boy Seselamarumo
Sanctuary Baines' Camp
Boy Boy started working for Sanctuary Retreats as a Logistics Clerk and after multiple promotions, Sanctuary Retreats sponsored Boy Boy in a Hospitality Management course. Since completing the course and the Trainee Manager Program, Boy Boy gained several more promotions before being appointed Lodge Manager of Sanctuary Baines’ Camp.
When we asked Boy Boy what his favourite thing about his job was, he replied, “Meeting so many different people from all over the world. Working with different cultures. And ensuring that we deliver nothing less than perfection. Baines’ Camp is very secluded in the Delta, it is a little piece of heaven. The sunsets are to die for and the camp brings a balance to the soul of every guest.” He exclaimed, “Our Elephant Encounters activity, with the Living with Elephants Foundation, which allows guests to walk alongside the Elephants, is my favourite activity available to our guests here”. When asked what his favourite moment since joining the Sanctuary team is, he laughed, “I would have to say when there was tug of war between myself and a Hyena over a dustbin! Every day we make memories which will last us a lifetime.”
Sanctuary Stanley's Camp
Martin was born in Francistown, North East of Botswana, and studied Public Relations, with a second major in Management at the Institute of Administration and Commerce in Zimbabwe. Martin has been General Manager at Sanctuary Stanley’s Camp since July 2015 and is currently studying Management Accounting as a hobby on the side.
“My job is one big adventure”, Martin told us, “I love meeting people from other countries and cultures, and equally enjoy sharing my knowledge about Botswana and its environment.”
Sanctuary Chief's Camp
Annemie returned to Sanctuary Chief’s Camp in November 2017 as General Manager, after working as GM in 2008, and holds a diploma in Hotel Management. Annemie has been in the hotel industry since 1996 holding multiple posts where a wealth of knowledge and experience was earned.
“I love the unpredictability of the bush, and that there is always something amazing to see. Going on safari is not just about the animals that you see but all the beauty that surrounds you, such as breath-taking sunsets. The people of Botswana are fantastic, friendly and so welcoming.” We asked Annemie when her favourite time of year at Sanctuary Chief’s Camp is, “There is no specific best time. Sanctuary Chief’s Camp is special all year round, and through the seasons, you get to experience different landscapes” she told us.
Sanctuary Chobe Chilwero
Irvine has worked for several companies throughout Southern Africa, holding various positions from Operations Manager to Lodge Manager. His liking for new challenges resulted in him landing in the Delta where he has become well acquainted with all lodge operations and managerial duties. He has taken part in two lodge refurbishment projects gaining invaluable experience in camp closure, logistical support, re-fitting, re-training and re-opening. Irvine joined Sanctuary Retreats as Lodge Manager in May 2017 and is now General Manager at Sanctuary Chobe Chilwero.
“The best thing about my job is that most people would call this a holiday! My favourite moments are when I’m saying goodbye to a teary guest who has enjoyed their stay at Chobe Chilwero so much that they don’t want to leave,” Irvine told us. “I love elephants, they are so majestic and appear to be so thoughtful and wise”.
Maurice was born and raised in a small village in Western Kenya. His career in the Hospitality Industry began in 1996. Soon after, he joined Sanctuary Olonana during its inception. In his 20 years at Sanctuary Olonana, Maurice has attended various refresher courses at Kenya Utalii College and has accepted numerous promotions; from Room Steward to Head House Keeper, Front of House Assistant to Manager, and finally his current position - The Unit Manager.
“What I love most about Sanctuary Olonana is the staff, the river-side location, the exceptional service and the authentic culture.” Maurice’s favourite moment at his job so far had to be “witnessing a hippo rescuing a young wildebeest from a crocodile.”
Steve & Maryna
Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge
Steve grew up in Johannesburg and qualified as a Field Guide in 1996 after spending most of his childhood holidays in the Kruger National Park. Maryna hails from the Garden Route and studied a degree in conservation before qualifying as a Field Guide in 1997. They met at a private game reserve in the Timbavati in 1998 and left South Africa to guide and manage camps and lodges in Botswana, Namibia and Tanzania. Steve and Maryana left Tanzania in 2011 after spending five years at Sanctuary Swala Camp and in 2017 returned to the Sanctuary team joining Sanctuary Makanyane as Camp Managers.
“Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge is set on a river and has its own exclusive 1800 hectares of the greater Madikwe Game Reserve which nobody else has access to.The staff is one big happy family. Most of the staff have been here for many years and everyone is extremely proud of what they do and are always willing to learn more skills and come up with ideas on how to make our guests’ stay even more special. The teamwork is amazing. Our favourite moment has to be when we rescued a baby Elephant which was stuck in a manmade hole next to the river and managed to track his herd and reunite them. Experiences like that make everything we do worthwhile.”
Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp
Born in Tanzania, Peter completed secondary education before gaining a diploma in Tourism and Hotel Management at Musoma Utalii College. Peter has held multiple positions in the safari industry and worked as a Waiter and Relief Manager at Sanctuary Kichakani Serengeti Camp and Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp before being promoted to Camp Manager at Ngorongoro Crater Camp.
We asked Peter to tell us his favorite animal in the Crater, “My favorite animal has to be a Masai giraffe, the way they walk, the way their patterns are all unique.” And when we asked him to share his favourite moments in camp, he exclaimed “my favourite events in camp is any time our guests are having a celebration; from birthdays, to honeymoons, anniversaries and even weddings; we sing, and we dance.”
Gerhard and Michelle
Gerhard and Michelle have very recently joined the team at Sanctuary Kusini. Beginning their career as photographers on cruise ships in the Caribbean, Gerhard then went on to become a Guide, while Michele spent a few years working in the wine industry. The pair have over 5 years’ experience in the safari industry and are settling in nicely to their new challenge in the southern Serengeti.
“Working for Sanctuary is like working with family every single day. We are in love with Africa, its wild places and its people. We love everything about safari. The thrill of a special sighting, having sundowners in the bush and sitting around the camp fire sharing stories with our guests. Kusini is where the wildebeest is known to give birth. This is where the migration starts for thousands of wildebeest. With so many calves being born it also attracts many predators such as cheetah, lion and wild dogs. We currently have a coalition of 5 beautiful male lions and often see them in and around camp.”
Bianca and Ben
Bianca and Ben met in the bush as Field Guides in South Africa, and soon realised they shared a passion for nature, conservation, people, and adventure. Bianca’s experience of owning and operating restaurants, and Ben’s experience as a Senior Guide ensured their next step was to manage exclusive safari camps in Botswana. When the opportunity arose to become Walking Guides and Managers at Sanctuary Swala, set in one of the most beautiful conservation areas in Africa, they jumped at the chance.
“Our favourite thing about safari is being able to see the sunrise and sunset every day. Those are special moments most people miss in their busy daily life” said Bianca and Ben, to which we asked them what makes Sanctuary Swala particularly special, “the abundance of different species one can see in the Tarangire. Even certain bird species are unique to this area and can’t be seen anywhere else in the world. Views of the swamps and great mountain ranges in the backgrounds allows for some of the most dramatic scenery we have come across. It truly is the African safari one imagines. Open grass lands, ancient acacia woodlands, giant baobabs and abundance of wildlife, especially the elephants that visit us daily in camp.”
Sanctuary Kichakani Serengeti Camp
Emanuel was born in Arusha and is a Tanzanian Cook, Restaurateur and Waiter. He completed his Hotel Studies in 2010 and joined the Sanctuary Swala team in 2013 as a Waiter, later being promoted to Head Waiter and then to Assistant Manager, where he made a notable contribution to form a strong sense of team work and creating a good working environment. Emanuel transferred to Sanctuary Kichakani Serengeti Camp and was promoted to General Manager in 2018.
“My favourite thing about my job is that every day is different. Plus, the Serengeti National Park is beautiful. Sanctuary Kichakani Serengeti Camp is the best mobile camp by far. We get to move location to follow the migration, so that is pretty special”, Emanuel told us.
Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp
Nick began his career in the hotel industry in 2007, completing his in-service training and gaining his Hotel Management experience. Since then he has been working his way up the ladder, starting off as a Food and Beverage Manager for a small 5-star property in central Uganda. Nick joined Sanctuary in April 2016 as Lodge Manager at Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp.
When we quizzed Nick on why he is so passionate about his job, he told us, “A safari in Uganda avails the most fantastic lifetime experiences for anyone who finds their way into this African pearl. Harbouring more than half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas, gorilla trekking expeditions have become the highlight of any Uganda safari in Bwindi National Park and spiced up with a wide range of attractive flora and fauna, and a fascinating encounter with warm people and culture, not only educative but also filled with fun. I often wake up early in the morning to find a family of gorillas right at my door.”
Leon De Wit
Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma
Leon grew up in South Africa and completed High School in 1992. He qualified and worked as an electrician in Johannesburg but was never fully satisfied with the city life. Leon began working in the hospitality industry in 2001 where he spent 10 years working as a Safari Guide in various national parks and private game reserves in South Africa, before joining the Sanctuary family at Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma in 2018.
“Living and working in the wilderness was a lifelong dream for me. My favourite thing about my job is meeting new people from across the globe and sharing their delight when visiting Africa. Plus, the sunsets are incredible.”