March 1, 2021
On international women’s day, Chobe Game Lodge celebrates it’s all-female guide team
The prestigious five-star Chobe Game Lodge located in the world-renowned Chobe National Park is at the forefront of women’s empowerment and promoting gender equality in Africa. Joining this forward-thinking lodge in 2004, Florence Kagiso was one of the first female guides, not only in Botswana, but in the entire continent of Africa. As a female trailblazer in the safari industry, Florence Kagiso now leads Africa’s first all-female guide team at Chobe Game Lodge and is an integral part of the management group which has 50% female representation – an astonishing and rare achievement for any company. On International Women’s Day, Chobe Game Lodge is incredibly proud to share their phenomenal philosophy and celebrate Florence Kagiso’s revolutionary career.
Chobe Game Lodge is passionate about the entire community, particular attention is given to creating careers for women. Desert & Delta Safaris is aware of the established gender divide in the male-dominated tourism industry and have sought to rectify this problem by achieving a perfectly equal 50% female representation on their management team, across the company. A recent study by National Geographic magazine highlighted that women invest a whopping 90% of their income into their families. With a fantastic number of women in managerial roles, the wealth generated by Chobe Game Lodge and at large, Desert & Delta Safari’s leading ladies, trickles down to communities and benefits the overall economy.
Florence Kagiso’s story
Florence Kagiso is a determined, courageous and ambitious woman and her spirit shines brightly. Having been raised by a single mum, who worked in farming as well as taking care of her two blind grandmothers, Florence Kagiso wanted a successful career to support her family. In 2004, she joined Chobe Game Lodge’s highly experienced team of 12 all-male guides, as one of only 10 female safari guides in the whole of Botswana. Working in such a highly respected establishment was a dream come true for Florence Kagiso; however, she knew that it would take hard work and perseverance to meet Chobe Game Lodge’s high standards and guest expectations.
When Florence Kagiso entered the industry, guiding was a typically ‘male job’. Spending hours in the bush, changing tyres, driving through rough terrain and navigating river cruises was not considered a worthwhile career for women. Nonetheless, Florence Kagiso worked hard and obtained the relevant driving licenses needed for both game drives and river cruises. The male guides were sceptical, but Florence Kagiso proved to everyone that she was more than capable. Chobe Game Lodge’s management team recognised Florence Kagiso worked more efficiently than the other men. She took better care of the vehicles and had a far lower fuel consumption compared to her male counterparts! This is because male guides in Botswana excel in the thrill of the wildlife chase, while the female guides take a more relaxed approach that often leads to breath-taking surprises, rather than a full-throttle chase.
Florence Kagiso’s tenacity and her strong sense of responsibility did not go unnoticed. Her determination paved the way for other women to thrive, flourish and achieve what they never thought they could. She believes that one woman’s victory can help another women’s journey. Florence Kagiso is living proof of this. A year after joining the team at Chobe Game Lodge, Desert & Delta Safaris employed three more female guides. Florence Kagiso believes that women have brought a new perspective to the guiding profession. Brilliant at problem-solving, women have the unique ability to nurture those around them and make sure that every guest is happy and comfortable. Chobe Game Lodge quickly recognised these outstanding qualities. Thanks to Florence Kagiso’s pioneering courage, Chobe Game Lodge is now home to Africa’s first team of all-female guides.
The future is equal
Chobe Game Lodge’s impressive team of women have created a platform for the voices of successful women. They have become exceptional role models for young girls across the whole of Africa. Chobe Game Lodge has proved that employing women in managerial positions leads to extraordinary change and incredible opportunities.
“Women deserve more representation in senior positions throughout the tourism industry.” – James Wilson (Marketing Director at Desert & Delta)
As all of the 17 female guides at Chobe Game Lodge are also mothers, Desert & Delta recognises that these trailblazing women have deviated from the norm by not staying at home. Maternity leave and longer home visits are offered to these women so that they can spend valued time with their families whilst also maintaining a successful career. Chobe Game Lodge encourage other companies and lodges to follow suit, to ignore gender and simply employ the best person for the job. Women are too frequently overlooked for what is deemed male roles. However, the amazing women at Chobe Game Lodge have set the standard for the rest of Africa, showing the world what can be achieved when a woman dares to dream.