Our friendly, enthusiastic and professional guides here at Antelope Park have a love of the African bush, the wild animals, the colourful birds, and the culture of Zimbabwe…
Our range of famous Antelope Park Experiences are the highlight of a stay for all our guests and volunteers, and they range from game drives, horseback safaris, elephant interaction and lion education tours, to snake induction, bird-watching and bush walks. By sharing their passion and knowledge, it is our dedicated and wonderful guides that ensure that these experiences are enjoyable and memorable. All our guides are naturalists who know the African bush intimately and have an amazing knowledge of African wildlife.
Let us introduce you to one of our resident guides and find out how he came to be working at Antelope Park. Although you will of course have the opportunity to meet all our guides personally when you visit, and they will be thrilled to take you on our exciting Antelope Park Experiences…
We want to know more about you! Please tell us a little bit about who you are and where you’re from?
My name is Irikidzai Ndandazi (Iri for short) and I am 34 years of age and was born and bred in Chimanimani in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe. I was at school in Chimanimani up to my O Levels and then went to Kadoma to sit my A Levels. Then my higher education was at Midlands State University in Gweru (very close to Antelope Park), where I obtained my first Degree in Tourism & Hospitality Management, and my Masters Degree in Strategic Management and Corporate Governance.
Why did you choose to be a safari guideand what is your experience/training?
The main reason is simple in that I love nature – I love animals, birds, plants, everything that makes the eco-system work, so nature has been the propelling reason to be a safari guide. I obtained my Learner Professional Hunters License with Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority, which combined theory at college such as the scientific names of animals, trees and plants, with a lot of experience in the field learning about the bush and animals. Additionally I did training in Tourism & Hospitality, so both those have contributed to me being a better safari guide working with our guests.
How long have you been at Antelope Park?
I joined Antelope Park in 2010 when I was a student and on an internship for about a year, and then went back to college and returned in 2012 as a full-time guide. I am now Head Guide and current Camp Manager for Antelope Park so my responsibilities cover the welfare of the animals, game park management and organising and ensuring all our guests and volunteers enjoy the numerous Antelope Park Experiences.
What has been your favourite part of the job at Antelope Park?
I love lions in general, for the fact that they are on top of the food chain and they are a key component of the eco-system. During my first degree I was focused on lions and studied their physical traits, and now the management of our lions and research into the lions’ characters and behaviour is a big part of my job. My favourite experience at Antelope Park is guiding guests on lion education tours, and taking the lions out into the natural environment to hone their skills and learn to hunt as part of our Lion Release and Conservation Programme. And…I love birds too, and really enjoy identifying and watching the numerous species we have here, both localized and migratory, and I have helped compile the Antelope Park bird list.
What is your most exciting safari/animal encounter at Antelope Park?
It was when we took some of our lions out at night and we watched them stalk and catch a wildebeest—the chase wasn’t long, about two minutes, but it was really incredible to watch the young lions successfully catch their first prey on their own. Additionally I once saw two very large male water monitor lizards fighting, which was very unusual. On another occasion, I came across a huge python taking down an impala and swallowing it whole. Each of these encounters were so different and equally as thrilling.
What is important to you Iri when you take your guests on safari?
When I go on safari, I have discovered that it is about entertaining the guests more than it is about reeling off the scientific names that I learned in college. First I try and assess and probe how much they already know about the animals etc. and then I tell them things they don’t know! It makes their animal encounter, game drive or bush walk much more enjoyable and memorable when they are learning something new and interesting.