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Jacada Guide Stories: Jennifer from Mwiba, Tanzania

Safari guide and anthropologist Jennifer of Legendary Mwiba in Tanzania tells us her story.

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Mwiba guide and anthropologist Jennifer’s story of growing up in Botswana and South Africa, and guiding in Tanzania – in her own words:

“I grew up in Botswana, then I went to school and university in South Africa, so you could say that I’m from both South Africa and Botswana. My upbringing led me to become a guide, because for as long as I can remember, I was going on camping trips, and this is where my love for the bush and animals came from.”

“I’ve been interested in local people and culture from a young age, so when I went to university I naturally chose to study anthropology.”

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“The region I work within is rich with culture. There are many tribes within Tanzania and I am lucky enough to work closely with four of them: Maasai, Sukuma, Datoga and Hadzebe. This is what draws many people to the area; it is dense with untainted cultural life, and the cultural visits are not staged in any way. We strive to preserve raw culture, and simply portray the current facts and their history, whilst showing tourists the tribes’ way of life.”

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“I combine guiding with anthropology through cultural visits to villages and bomas, as well as incorporating local knowledge, beliefs, traditions and medicines into game drives, such as the use of plants and traditional stories.”

 “Anthropology is not only about the current tribes and traditions, but also that of the past.”

“Anthropology is not only about the current tribes and traditions, but also that of the past. It’s important to include the history of mankind and how the art of tracking animals enabled humans to survive in this harsh environment.”

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“A typical day begins by waking up at 5am and getting ready to head towards some of the Maasai rock paintings to interpret them together, after which we have breakfast under a tree near the cave while a Hadzebe shows us how he makes fire. Back at the lodge, at about 12pm, guests can relax, and a Hadzebe gentlemen makes a bow and arrow for the guests, or ladies come in to do beadwork for them.”

“At about 4pm we depart for a game drive or a cultural village visit, and halfway through the game drive we stop for sundowners, overlooking a beautiful sunset or waterhole. After dinner guests are welcome to go on a night drive too. When there are no guests, I help train local guides, do cultural visits and monitor the wildlife.”

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“One of my favourite moments was the day I spent 12 hours following a pack of 16 wild dogs, and some of my most fondest memories are from when I go to the local village to teach the primary school children about conservation and wildlife, and to play games with them. It puts such joy on their faces and in my heart.”

“Some of my most fondest memories are from when I go to the local village to teach the primary school children about conservation and wildlife.”

“As a young female guide in Tanzania, there are many challenges. Mainly in strength, when it comes to changing tyres, but guests are often surprised to find a blonde 23-year-old guide waiting to meet them too, instead of a rugged man with war wounds from the bush. These challenges are easily overcome with patience and determination, and once overcome, the relationship you build is something I wouldn’t change for the world.”

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