Friday, January 15, 2016

Meet Zimbabwean Professional Guide Sibs Sibanda from Imvelo Safari Lodges

Sibs Sibanda, Imvelo's head Hwange guide
Sibahale "Sibs" Sibanda, Imvelo Safari Lodges' head Hwange guide, was born in southern Zimbabwe in 1974. After finishing school in 1994, he started his guiding career with pioneering Hwange safari operator, Touch the Wild. After apprenticing and studying as a learner guide for five years, he qualified as a Zimbabwean Professional Guide in 2000. Zimbabwe's Professional Guide certification has some of the most stringent guide licensing regulations in Africa and hence, Pro Guides are widely recognised as some of the best in Africa. Sibs then worked for CC Africa (now andBeyond) at Matetsi Water Lodge after completing the rigorous Inkwazi Ranger Training School (FGASA endorsed). In 2007, he join Wilderness Safaris based at Ruckomechi Lodge in Mana Pools. In 2009, he was voted as Wilderness' Best Guide in Zimbabwe. He later moved to Hwange's famed Ngamo Plains, managing Wilderness camps Little Makalolo, Makalolo Plains and then Davisons. In 2014, he join Imvelo Safari Lodges.

Sib's tells us a bit more about himself below:

Where were you born and where did you grow up? 

I was born in the village south part of Zimbabwe and then went to school in Bulawayo before moving with my brother to Hwange National Park when I started guiding.

Do you have a favorite animal? 

Not really but I do love all baby animals. They are so cute and they are the most active and playful!

What do you enjoy doing when not guiding? 

Birding and reading.

Do you have a favorite place to visit in Hwange and in Zimbabwe as a whole? 

My favorite place in Hwange is the Nyamadlovu, Guvalala area on the way to Nehimba Lodge. These are the areas I did my first  games drives when I first qualified as a guide  in 1995. The area reminds me of my youth days. In the whole of Zimbabwe my favorite places are Victoria Falls and Mana Pools.

What is your favorite Imvelo lodge and why? 

Camelthorn Lodge. It has one of the best walking area in Hwange and believe it or not, I find it very similar to Mana Pool with the huge camelthorn trees groves which allow you to see animals at a distance and good cover as well  for close approach of big game. And I love the birding in this area during the green season. It is phenomenal.

Sibs on a walking safari with guests in Hwange NP
What do you like sharing with first time Africa travelers and what surprises them the most about Zimbabwe?

I love sharing my passion for the outdoors with my first time guests in Africa. My guests are most surprised by the friendliness of the people of Zimbabwe and how laid back and relaxed life is.

How many languages do you speak?

Seven: Ndebele, English, Tonga, Nambya, Zulu, Tswana, Shona

How do you see tourism and your job as a guide benefiting Zimbabwe?

Tourism boosts the country’s economy, promotes conservation, preserves Zimbabwe’s culture and heritage, creates employment and advertises the beauty the country has to offer. As a head guide of Imvelo Safari Lodges, I like to benefit the country by identifying and recruiting youngsters from the very remote areas surrounding the Hwange National Park, who have a passion for the outdoors but have never had any opportunity to fulfill their dreams.

What’s your best piece of advice for a first-time safari traveler to Zimbabwe?

Zimbabwe is a very friendly, hard working nation who are overjoyed to share with their visitors the rich cultural, heritage, wildlife and scenery the country has to offer. Come visit us!

Sibs surveys the scene at a Hwange waterhole. Photo: Victoria Langmead, Aardvark Safaris


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