Thursday, October 28, 2021

Die another day – surviving snake bites and riding with Supermodels

He has got a softness about him. A shy, almost effeminate demeanor that screams ‘queer’. It was not until he expressed his long held crush for the beautiful doe-eyed Gabz FM producer

Loretta Mekgwe that I finally placed him. “I have always seen her on BTV and I think she has the most beautiful eyes ever,” he says of Mekgwe. Having been up close and personal with the likes of German-American Supermodel Heidi Klum, who can question his standards on beauty?

Moses Lebitla has been a safari guide at And Beyond Xaranna Okavango Delta Camp for the past four years.

He, together with his colleague Action Katawa, were our designated game guides during a recent trip to the delta. He speaks to Lifestyle about life in the delta and where it all began.

“My grandfather inspired me to be a guide,” he explains.

“He was a traditional healer with such a remarkable knowledge for wildlife and he would take me along on his expeditions to this water hole where all wild animals would come to drink.” Lebitla says they would hide behind a gigantic termite mound and watch them for a while. “Elephants were my favorite to watch as they bathed in the waterhole, splashing water all over their bodies with their trunk. That’s how I fell in love with wildlife.”

Lebitla, who started his guiding career in 2004, studied wildlife conservation at the Polytechnic of Namibia before coming back to Botswana.

Upon his return he enrolled for extended training at a guides training institute in Maun before starting work at Chobe Safari Lodge in Kasane.

He then moved on to work for And Beyond (a luxury experiential travel company) at their Xaranna camp where he continues to work as a safari guide. Lebitla displays great passion for his work. His face lights up every time he speaks about his experiences with the wild. “I was lucky enough to witness an elephant give birth to twins,” he says. “Something which is almost unheard of.”

Being a great fan of the gigantic land mammal Lebitla describes the moment as breathtaking and unforgettable.

He is not too crazy about horseback safari. “It just brings out the worst out of wild animals,” he explains. “Some get startled and run while others feel threatened and get aggressive.”

He might have a point. A couple of years back a tourist on horseback safari was reported to have fallen off his horse while being chased by a lion at the delta. He found himself face to face with the beast. Luckily he was not on the menu that day and managed to make his way back to safety.

For someone who somehow survived a black mamba bite, Lebitla is not at all averse to walking safaris. “I took a walk once and happened to step on a black mamba and got bitten,” he laughs it off now. “I guess it gave me a dry bite since I never experienced any complications.”

He says walking safaris are great as one gets to focus on the little creatures that one can hardly spot while on a game drive. “You focus on the animal tracks, smaller creatures, animal droppings, and everything else you can’t see clearly while up there on a truck.”

He says one of the best things about his job is also meeting people from every corner of the globe. “It is very fascinating learning about different cultures, their countries of origin while at the same time getting the privilege of learning about my country.

“We (safari guides) see ourselves as ambassadors of our country.”

And when he speaks about ‘meeting people from every corner of the globe’ he is not just talking about ordinary folks.

“I had a chance to guide German International supermodel Heidi Klum and her then husband, famous ‘Kiss From A Rose’ singer Seal,” Lebitla tells Lifestyle, adding “I also got to drive the famous

John Mayer, love his music by the way.” He has also driven presidents. “I had the privilege to guide the then President of the Republic of South Africa Kgalema Motlanthe.”

No wonder he describes working in safari camps as a great experience. “It has a lot benefi ts.” You bet.

“I love the silence in the Bush which is something you can’t get in the city and it’s amazing to be able to listen to lions roar at night, and hyenas laughing. It provides for such an amazing adrenaline rush knowing you might just come across one of these animals when walking across the camp at night. Scary as hell but also exciting. ”

He cautions that while it is easy to spot animals he likes to advise guests not to have too much expectations. “Most guests have this mentality that guides know exactly where to fi nd certain animals and I always tell them the best thing about Botswana safari is that animals have free will, they come and go as they please. Some animals migrate in search for water and food, they don’t stay in one place, some days are productive and some are not.” He says it is all a gamble. Sometimes you win, at times you lose.

Xaranna Okavango Delta Camp is in the midst of the Delta, surrounded by a mosaic of papyrus and reed beds, providing an exceptional Botswana safari experience.

With sweeping views opening up onto a seasonal lagoon, the serene and isolated Camp combines the best of what the Okavango has to offer.

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