Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve is known not only for its amazing wildlife encounters, but also for an incredible group of men and women who bring such experiences to life. Through storytelling, interpretation, reading wildlife and being able to anticipate guests’ needs, these individuals ensure that ethical and responsible practices take priority in everything they do. The Sabi Sabi Ranger is indeed a specialised position held in high esteem. For more than 40 years these naturalists have become renowned for bringing the bush to life in a manner that resonates with guests from all over the globe. Their aim is to focus on the biodiversity that the bush presents, which allows for a holistic safari approach with a slower pace so that all facets of nature can be appreciated – from the big all the way to the small.
These unique characters of Yesterday and Today are no coincidence – they are the result of careful selection, meticulous training on all aspects of being a Safari Guide / Ranger and ultimately, they are proud ambassadors for conservation and the preservation of our natural heritage. The Tomorrow of this elite group undergo intensive selection at Sabi Sabi’s regular selection course, known as Nkombe Camp.
Nkombe Camp – named after the rare and endangered white rhino – is as integral to Sabi Sabi as are its commitments to sustainable tourism practices. Conceived in the late 1970’s as a training programme to ensure consistency across Sabi Sabi’s guiding team, this process slowly morphed into a selection process too. This shady tented camp overlooks the Msuthlu River and winds its way from Little Bush and Selati Camps, passing Bush Lodge before spilling into the mighty Sabie River. The camp backs onto a black-cotton soiled plain with a large wallow, where a glistening Leadwood tree stump had been polished by the constant rubbing attention from the territorial rhinos of the area.
Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve has led the guiding standards in the lodging industry of South Africa. Many of its protégés lent their hands, skills and knowledge to the formation of FGASA (Field Guides Association of Southern Africa) – now Africa’s pre-eminent guiding standard accreditation organisation – based on the skills and lessons learnt from early Nkombe Camp programmes. The peer led courses offered at Nkombe Camp are tailored to the local environment focussing on Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve and the greater Kruger National Park biomes. The courses teach the complexity of the ecosystem emphasising its vulnerability and sensitivity to human impact; important lessons to manage the expectations of guests while balancing the potential impact of tourism on the natural order. While understanding the environment is paramount to interpreting it to benefit guests, so is understanding guests, their expectations, concerns and desires – the courses presented are designed to integrate interpersonal skills emphasising empathy toward the greater Sabi Sabi family and its guests.
Whilst not every hopeful ranger can be employed by Sabi Sabi, those that are invited to join the Sabi Sabi team will have been selected from the course where managers and peers, who are part of the selection process, weigh in on each individual’s suitability. While the team is elite, it is comprised of a unique set of characters, skills and personalities that maintain the signature vibrancy, innovation and culture of the company. Each possessing the desire and commitment to support the integral elements that are central to Sabi Sabi’s philosophy:
- The first is the need to conserve rapidly dwindling wilderness areas and to provide a sanctuary for fauna and flora as part of South Africa’s heritage.
- The second is the belief that the business must be a true example of eco-tourism, effectively linking tourism with conservation and the community. Sabi Sabi’s environmental management system is a holistic one, where the ecological needs are balanced with the needs of people and their communities, i.e. focusing on the interdependence of tourism, conservation and local communities.
During these challenging times – we feel it important to continue to invest in our future, our people, our home – Sabi Sabi. To join our next selection course, please contact us directly.