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Local guide swaps the African savannah for Mexico’s desert and Pacific Ocean

Local guide swaps the African savannah for Mexico’s desert and Pacific Ocean

From the vast savannah of Namibia to the true desert oasis of Todos Santos in the far south of Baja Mexico, is the journey of a lifetime for Johann Cloete.

One of the Ultimate Safaris expert team, Johann is taking part in a trail-blazing guide swap which will see him exchange elephants for whales, rhinos for turtles, and desert bluffs for long beaches and wild surf. In partnership with Todos Santos Eco Adventures, a local eco-adventure company in Baja California, Ultimate Safaris is investing in a once-in-a-lifetime experience for one of its most experienced team members.

Both Todos Santos Eco Adventures and Ultimate Safaris, part of the Kusini Collection, are united by a passion to preserve and protect their delicate environments, maximising the social and economic benefits of luxury travel for their local communities and providing an unforgettable experience for guests.

The guide swap is just one of how Ultimate Safaris invests in its people, a key commitment that has been sustained and developed during the pandemic challenges of the past few years.

Johann has been working as a guide for 18 years on overland safaris and at lodges in Botswana and the eastern Cape as well as in Namibia but has never been out of Africa – until now. He was chosen by his fellow staff members after a rigorous appraisal process to decide who would take up this inspiring opportunity.

Now Johann will have the chance to explore another world, with its special ecosystem and some of the most spectacular marine life viewing destinations on the planet. Whales, dolphins, whale sharks, sea turtles, manta rays, and plenty of beautiful tropical fish call the surrounding waters of Baja California home, while a vast array of bird species including Blue-footed Boobies, Reddish Egrets, Great Blue Herons, and Yellow-footed Gulls frequent the skies and shores.

And then there are the whale sharks, the world’s largest fish, gentle giants which feed on plankton in the Bay of La Paz, near the cleaning operation led by a volunteer group that focuses on the mangroves and reefs of Baja California Sur.

“I was thrilled to be picked,” commented Johann. “I could hardly believe it. This is an amazing chance to see how other dedicated conservation teams around the world work and to live in a completely different environment. I don’t experience marine life at the moment but I’m sure we will be able to learn from each other and discuss how we deal with all our challenges and celebrate our triumphs. I will have a lot to bring back to share!”

First to take part in the guide swap was Manuel Rodriguez, one of the lead guides from Todos Santos, who travelled to Zimbabwe with Imvelo Safari Lodges last year. Watching rhinos and watching elephants from inside a hide, observing cheetahs lounging in the sun and giraffe galloping across the plain were the first time he had seen these animals in the wild.

Tristan Cowley, co-founder and Managing Director of Ultimate Safaris, works closely with local communities to develop preservation and protection initiatives and is committed to developing responsible and sustainable luxury tourism for the future.

“The guide swap initiative is a great opportunity for interaction and learning between people on different sides of the world who may have differing geographies, wildlife, and weather, but who share the same dedication to conservation and preservation,” he commented.

“Providing this great opportunity for a key team member like Johann to gain insights and knowledge from a widely divergent society is a great way to expand his horizon and to motivate other members of the team to excel. We take pride in giving our guests an epic adventure when they come on safari with us, so it is great to be able to do the same for Johann.”


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