Guides Training Workshop at Bumi Hills Safari Lodge

“We at African Bush Camps understand that in order to be the best in the industry, training is imperative for all departments.  I, Nic Polenakis, am responsible for the guide training throughout our African Bush Camps properties in both Botswana and Zimbabwe which constitutes about 30 guides.”

“African Bush Camps recognises that we would be lost without our talented and passionate guides.”

After all, the company was started on the premise that the Professional Guides are the ones who are able to transform an ordinary safari into and extra-ordinary one. In order to show our guides just how valuable and important their role is with us, the Guides Training Workshop is an event we look forward to all year. “It’s amazing to see the enthusiasm generated by these courses and the huge amount learned.” – Nic Polenakis, Brand Ambassador & Head of Guide Training


To become a Professional Guide in Zimbabwe and Botswana is no easy task and takes years of dedication, hard work and commitment to qualify.  African Bush Camps invites only the best of the best to join our guiding team, however we believe that there is always room for improvement and so the Guides Training Workshop takes place on an annual basis, whereby our guides come together for a week of training, and fun! Hungry to excel, to be the best and to reach the next level, guides are provided with the tools necessary to improve upon themselves in a supportive and constructive environment. Constructed to create excitement, enthusiasm and camaraderie among the guides, the Workshop aims to inspire guides to reach their highest level.


By evaluating the guides, Nic and the team are able to monitor their progress. There has been a massive improvement in most of our guides since the inception of these courses so we hope to continue building upon these already incredible guides in years to come.  “Many of our guides have years’ experience in the field, some are relatively new and others have only just begun their journey as guides. The challenge when holding these workshops is to keep all these guides who are on different levels from one another entertained and provide the correct amount of information for them all.  This is my responsibility and after evaluating all the guides it is then up to me to plan the next workshop that benefits everyone.  I am also very hands on during the course and will give presentations as well as hands-on practical training.”  Nic tells of his role at the Workshop.

With so much to learn, the guides love these workshops. This year we invited bird specialist in Derek Solomon, a palaeontologist, historian and guide Paul Hubbard, a professional photographer in Shaun McMinn and our very own environmentalist and veterinarian Richard Hoare.

Super sensory safari pic for GTW blog

Derek Solomon showing some of the guides what they can expect on our experiential Super Sensory Safari itinerary

“We covered a mammoth amount of topics ranging from skull identification and function, all aspects of birds and birding including bird calls and detailed accounts of feathers and their structure, palaeontology, shooting, safety and weapons handling, tracks and tracking, Aircraft safety and protocol, photography, astronomy, mammals- just to name a few! Another highlight was partaking in a darting exercise of a bull elephant!  Being hands on and helping take all the data was special and watching the elephant recover from the reversal drug was spectacular!  They are such incredible beasts… no wonder we do what we do!” said Nic. At the end of the course, guides were each given a flash stick, so that they would be able to reference the training and continue their learning.

The shooting course consisted of three aspects; a speed shoot, ‘jungle lane’ and a charging elephant scenario. The first was a speed shoot where each guide had to shoot 3 rounds at staggered targets, reload and then shoot another 3 rounds into the same targets. The second shoot, called jungle lane, is where we ran through an old river bed and had to shoot at two different targets and at the end of the run had to shoot a ‘charging lion scenario’!  “The charging lion was a life-size photograph of a lion on a sled which was pulled on an electric motor at 10 meters per second!  The third shoot was a charging elephant scenario which flew at us from across a river bed.” Muscle memory plays a large role and constant training is imperative. This shoot was a realistic and incredible exercise for guides.

When you gather 26 guides together with hundreds of years of combined experience there is no doubt that the knowledge, excitement and energy created is massive!  These courses help train and educate, however, they also create team work, enthusiasm, loyalty.  They generate direction, passion and energy which in turn helps to build a cohesive, professional and powerful team.”

We’d like to thank Nic Polenakis, the guest speakers and of course all the guides, without whom none of this would be possible!

Bumi Guides training photos (66 of 100)

On the banks of Lake Kariba, from Bumi Hills Safari Lodge