At a Botswana game lodge, these 14 women have made history in a traditionally male-dominated field.
They call them the Chobe Angels. But instead of the flicked bangs and bell-bottoms worn by their ’70s TV namesakes, this girl gang comes clad in hard-wearing outdoor clothes and hiking boots.
The Chobe Angels are Africa’s first-ever all-female safari guide team. In 2005 managers at Botswana’s Chobe Game Lodge spearheaded a campaign to recruit more female guides. Today the 14 women on the team represent a milestone for equal opportunities in the continent’s tourism industry—and have proved themselves by exclusively guiding Chobe Explorations’ mobile safari unit through the challenges of the Okavango Delta.
At 26 years old, Gobe Motshidise is the youngest guide on the team. She came to Chobe in 2012, after being inspired by a female friend working in the field. “I most enjoy the moment where I see the smiles on my guests’ faces and the joy it brings them,” says Motshidise about the highlight of her job. The feeling that Chobe Game Lodge “has somehow had an impact on [guests’] lives is what really keeps me motivated,” she says.
The Chobe Angels are part of a wider trend of encouraging women to work in Botswana’s tourism industry. With the support of the Botswana Tourism Organization and the Botswana Wildlife Training Institute, lodges in the country have seen a three-fold increase in the number of female safari guides in the last decade.
For the time being, however, the Chobe Angels remain a rarity. “There is a lot that I have learned from this job that other women might not get the opportunity to,” says Motshidise. “For that I am very thankful.”
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