Meet Africa’s Greatest Guides and Finest Ambassadors
Published: 1 August 2021
Over the past thirty years, Anywhere in Africa Safaris has been fortunate enough to work alongside some of the greatest tour and park guides through our offerings of bespoke and tailor-made safaris in Africa. These guides promise to not only take you on a holiday of a lifetime, but to also have you arrive as a visitor and leave as a lifelong friend.
African Safari Holidays in Botswana: Meet Ipolokeng Mokopi (aka ‘Kops’)
Head Safari Guide at Great Plains Camp, Botswana
As African travel specialists, we’ve met plenty of game rangers, yet to this day one of our favorite guides of all time would have to be “Kops” as he is affectionately known. Kops is great fun in the vehicle (we can attest to this) with true bush wisdom, whether it be about mammals, birds or the delta. He is one of the main reasons to visit Duba Plains Camp - if not the most important!
This reserve has wonderful diversity with elephants, great birds, and the elusive pangolin (Kops has found 2 of them for us over the past few years). It’s also home to lions, lechwe and buffalo, side-striped jackal, and lots of sightings you do not get elsewhere.
Kops is an incredible photographer, and understands lighting and the best vantage points - a Hollywood director of sorts we think. He also has a knack for anticipating bird and other animal behavior, whether an elephant charge, lion roar, or lechwe leaping across the water.
“I first joined Great Plains Conservation in 2010 as a workshop assistant. During my spare time, I studied to become a nature guide. Once I passed my exams in 2011, Great Plains Conservation didn’t hesitate in immediately offering me a guiding position.
Great Plains Conservation afforded me the opportunity to start from scratch and grow to where I find myself today - with all the qualifications and experience, which include walking, rifle handling, canoeing, and game drives. In 2017 I was promoted to Concession Head Guide, which is the post I currently fill, and am very happy in.” - Kops
We’re Tailor-made Travel Specialists in Cape Town With Guides Like Zakkie
Owner and Guide of Africa Alive Tours, Cape Town
If you’re looking for a bespoke and tailor-made travel, Tour Guide, Zakkie, is the man we recommend and work alongside in Cape Town. Born and bred in the heart of the Mother City’s famous Bo-Kaap Area, Zakkie spent his whole childhood amidst the Malay Community. In 1969, under South Africa’s Apartheid policy, his family were forcibly removed from this beautiful part of the Mother City, after the area was declared a ‘white’ residential area.
Along with his family, Zakkie settled in what is today known as the “Cape Flats.” Zakkie had to commute daily into the city to complete his high school at Trafalgar High in District Six. He then went on to pursue a teaching career before starting Africa Alive Tours - a transport company specializing in tour guiding and transfers. His entrepreneurial spirit and experience as an educator enhanced his guiding ability (it didn’t take long before travel agencies noticed him). We’re proud to work alongside Zakkie, and best believe that after a tour with Zakkie (which we arrange) you’ll never want to leave this vibrant city.
From Anywhere in Africa Safaris
We have been working with Zakkie for the past 10 years, and all of our clients rave about his service, knowledge, passion, and attention to detail during their day tours in and around Cape Town. He connects with everyone from Gen-Zs, millennials, to over sixties, with guests saying that their only regret after a day tour is that “they didn’t have more days to spend with Zakkie.”
A Personalised Safari in Botswana Isn’t Complete Without a Visit to Elephant Havens to Meet Onkobetse Motlamma Khola (aka ‘Onks’)
Senior Elephant Handler at Elephant Havens, Botswana
Onks - the man with the best smile and laugh in the Delta - came to Elephant Havens through an interesting and somewhat unconventional path. After growing up near the salt pans of the Central Kalahari in Botswana, Onks worked his way in the African safari industry from the desert sands to the delta wetlands. Here he found himself at Abu Camp, where he was a member of the front line waitstaff - but his real calling came from the elephants who needed his help.
Abu Camp has a herd of semi-wild elephants repatriated from zoos or wildlife parks in the US and Canada, or rescues from potential culling operations in South Africa. Onks watched and wondered at the relationship that the elephant handlers had with these wonderful creatures, eventually giving up his white linen service etiquette and mastery of the daily specials to pursue his love of elephants.
After some time as an elephant handler, he became one of the weekly day and night caregivers to a tiny elephant named Naledi who had been orphaned when her mother (a member of the Abu herd) died from complications of childbirth. This wonderful story was even turned into a great movie!
During a week that Onks was acting as Naledi’s mother it just so happened that Debra Stevens came to visit Abu where she met the new ‘family’ in May 2014. The three became friends. In 2017, Debbie and Bee Poloko, Manager of the Elephant Operations at Abu, started working on their dream to create a baby elephant rescue and reintroduction orphanage in Maun, Botswana in the Okavango Delta. With Bee’s guidance and assistance, the Elephant Havens charity is now a reality having opened its doors 22 months ago with Onks as its third employee.
Onks is one of the primary reasons for the operation’s success, with his leadership skills and ability to provide the mothering and empathetic care that little orphans require. They - the elephants - love speaking with him and he sets the standard for how to do this job. He helps supervise the 6 to 10 new elephant handlers that have been brought on board to handle the ever growing herd of young elephants, drawing from his wisdom and instincts that come from having lived with elephants for years.