Meet the Mavela Guiding Team

December 1, 2020

The safari experience is the most important aspect of a visit to the bush. Unfortunately we don’t have a significant amount of control over what animals will show up during your safari, however we can ensure that our guests have the best person to guide you through the reserve. Having a knowledgeable guide with a friendly and engaging personality can take your experience from great, to magical. At Mavela we have chosen our guiding team based on a few important aspects, a few personality traits and skills that we believe are essential to make a great guide and provide that magical experience to our guests.

1. __Storytelling and interpretation__ – this could very well be the most important skill a guide could possess. Having all the knowledge in the world is useless, unless it can be presented in an interesting and relevant story. Similarly, being able to interpret what an animal is doing, and the reason for the behaviour is the guide’s main purpose and why he/she can be so valuable to a guest on the safari.

2. __Hospitable and friendly__ – these traits need very little explaining as to why they are important. No one likes a grumpy driver behind the wheel who will murmur one line answers to any questions thrown their way. Hospitality is the name of the game, and a guide should always ensure his guests are comfortable and taken care of (mostly in the form of a full glass of wine during sundowners).

3. __Knowledge & Skill__ – it all comes together in a neat little package when your friendly and interesting guide can answer any question you may have while out on safari. No one knows everything, but a complete understanding of the ecosystem and its functioning parts is extremely important. The skill to spot animals, and to track them down through the subtle clues left behind is the magic that our bush wizards / guides can produce to leave guests speechless.

4. __Safety and respect__ – it never looks good when a game drive arrives back with fewer guests than when they left. Keeping your guests safe is always of utmost importance. This goes hand in hand with having respect for the wildlife and the danger they can present.

5. __Ethics__ – humans are not on this planet to go on safari. It is not natural. So if we wish to explore the pristine wilderness that our reserve offers, we must ensure that every measure is taken to have as little impact and effect on the ecosystem and the animals as possible.

Our Guides

Nico Bestbier

Nico has been guiding for over 8 years on various reserves around South Africa. He has been with Mavela since 2018, and on the Manyoni Game Reserve for over 3 years. He has accumulated a wealth of knowledge over his time guiding and can be sure to give guests an experience unlike any other. Among Nico’s many talents, his knowledge of birds is world class. Even if you don’t have an interest in birding, you can be sure to leave Mavela with an appreciation of our birdlife after a few drives out with Nico.

Nico is also our lead trails guide and conducts any walking safaris requested by our guests. His knowledge on plants and their medicinal and cultural beliefs ensure a walking safari is a fascinating excursion. An in depth understanding of animal behaviour is essential for any trails guide, particularly when dealing with the ‘big 5’ on foot. Nico can ensure encounters with Africa’s most enigmatic & dangerous animals is done safely.

Nico’s time in the guiding industry has helped him gain a great understanding of hospitality and he always takes fantastic care of his guests – his jokes will be sure to keep a smile on your face for the entire game drive.

Calvin Davie

Calvin is someone who can instantly make you feel relaxed and welcomed – a gentle energy with a wide smile. Calvin’s passion for the bush is extremely contagious, his energy in pursuing all kinds of wildlife will get you buzzing with excitement.

Although Calvin loves the big cats and other large animals found on the reserve, he has a true appreciation for the smaller creatures. If chasing after the ‘big 5’ is not your style, then slow down and take note of the insects, retiles and plants with Calvin. If snakes interest you, then Calvin is your guy. He has completed numerous snake handling courses and will be able to explain the fascinating detail behind the lives of snakes.

Calvin has worked on the reserve for 2 years now and will no doubt be conducting his vibrant game drives with Mavela for the foreseeable future.

Michael Waller

Mike is Mavela’s newest ranger. As a new guide, he has an impressive arsenal of knowledge, not only about wildlife. Mike’s interest in the history of the area has added unique value to our guiding team, as it is a subject not often covered in guide training. His self-taught knowledge about the history of the Zulu kingdom in the area is fascinating. While driving through the reserve, you can be sure to learn about the Ghost Mountain (visible from our reserve) and the battles that took place in the valleys and hills to the east of Mavela Lodge.

Mike previously worked at a large law firm in Durban, but the freedom of the Zululand game reserves drew him away from the confines of the City. His eagerness to get out into the bush every single day will take you on a journey of learning. You are sure to hear all about the new facts that Mike has read about in the previous week, as a constant supply of fresh and interesting knowledge is presented in an articulate, well-constructed story.

While each of our guides possesses all the necessary skills to be a great guide and provide a magical experience, they all have their unique guiding style. A guided experience at Mavela will ensure a holistic bush adventure, not only focusing on the more sought-after animals, but also providing a deeper emersion into all the different aspects that nature provides.

If you feel like you will be more suited to one of our guides, feel free to make a request for a specific guide.

Written by: Dan Stevens

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