Wonder what it takes to work in the bush? Meet Brian Rode and Chantelle Venter, legendary Botswana Guide Trainers...
Brian’s story: “I have loved nature all of my life. It is an integral part of who I am. After leaving school I enlisted in the South African Defence Force and joined a specialised unit, where I was trained in bush and desert survival techniques. I soon became an instructor in these techniques. Upon leaving the army I went to university to study law (where I met my partner and best friend Chantelle Venter) and then worked in Johannesburg for a year or two. This was not for me and I found that I was missing the bush so much that I decided to resign and apply for a position as a field guide.
Fortunately I found a job in the Timbavati Game Reserve (in the Greater Kruger area) and worked there as a guide, tracker, camp manager and finally as a guide-trainer. After leaving South African National Parks I spent a short while in Welgevonden Game Reserve, before deciding to move to Botswana. I was employed by Okavango Wilderness Safaris and started working as a Camp Manager and guide in the Linyanti Region. After doing this for a few years I was asked to join the OWS Environmental Team and worked as an ecologist for Wilderness Safaris.
My interests then turned more towards guide-training and by this stage I was already qualified as a trainer and assessor for F.G.A.S.A. (which I still am). I joined the OWS Guide-training team and obtained qualifications in training and assessing through B.O.T.A. (Botswana Training Authority). I continued training guides for Wilderness Safaris and guiding guests for a few years when, needing to closer to my family in South Africa, I resigned and got a job training guides and running a guide-training school in the south of the country. I was employed by Ecotraining and spent a few years in the Mashatu area. The majority of my training in Mashatu involved teaching young guides how to walk safely in dangerous game areas.
After spending approximately three years in the Tuli Block I found that I was missing the Okavango and Linyanti areas and so I decided to move back. Today I am still training guides for Wilderness Safaris and do the odd guiding on request.”
Chantelle’s story: “I started my career in the Timbavati Game Reserve in South Africa as an Assistant Camp Manager and was later employed as a full time field guide. Prior to moving to Botswana I joined South African National Parks as a Field Guide to lead walking safaris in the Kruger National Park. I joined Wilderness Safaris in 2002 as a Camp Manager, and soon managed to obtain a Botswana Professional Guides Licence. Until joining the Wilderness Training Department in 2008, I worked both as a field guide and Camp Manager in the Okavango Delta and the Linyanti Concession.
During the period of 2011 to early 2013, I was based in the Northern Tuli block in the Mashatu Game Reserve as a senior instructor for EcoTraining, a company that specializes in training Field Guides and Trails Guides. I returned to Wilderness Safaris early this year in the position of Guide Trainer.
I have been employed by Wilderness Safaris for a total period of 10 years and my aim is to pass on as much experience and knowledge to young and upcoming guides as possible. I take great pleasure in following and advancing their development in the Field of Guiding.”