We have been working with Mark for almost 15 years now and besides knowing each other really well, he instinctively knows how we like our clients to be treated and how we work. We can confidently say that visitors to South Africa who get Mark as a guide are in excellent hands. As an extension of us and our personalised service ethos out there on the road and face-to-face with our clients, Mark is the perfect ambassador for us. We constantly get rave reviews about him!
- Do you have a specialty? (history, photography, wine, birds) how come? Photography is becoming more of a passion as I get older, but I would like to take it to a much more technically proficient level in order to get that truly rewarding pic as well as that ‘one in a million ‘ special image. As Capetonians , many of us are a little biased towards the wonderful wine industry on our doorstep and I would like to think that I have a put this resource to ‘good use’ since my initial student days. But I also think that I have managed to hone my presentation, of who we are as a people living in this amazing country, into an interesting interpretation which has a value of its own. Well, at least I sure do hope so.
- Where is your favorite place to take visitors? Please give 1 x urban and 1 x nature destination. Downtown Cape Town is a truly remarkably diverse and enjoyable space and one of my world-wide favourite urban places. I have also been very fortunate to accompany guests across the vastness of southern Africa and there are so many places that come to mind, but without doubt, the sunset safari cruise on the Chobe River is one of the most inimitable moments of African splendour.
- How did you get into guiding and what was your profession before you became a guide? My background is in nature conservation and for some years I worked as a game ranger in the eastern cape and then for a number of years as an environmental educationist at De Hoop Nature Reserve in the southern cape. For awhile I also found myself living in London and on returning to SA I became involved in the tourism industry as a guide.
- What is the feel good factor about being a guide? There are many feel good moments when accompanying guests such as ; their reaction as you reach the top of Table Mountain in the cable car, or stand at the lighthouse at Cape Point taking in the vast spectacle of the peninsula, ocean and mountains. It’s the feeling of being an ambassador for our country as we interpret the complexity of our more recent history and how it got us to where we are as a nation today.
- Do you have a most nerve wracking or nightmarish tour guiding moment in your career to tell us about? Fortunately there are not too many of those kinds of moments and the few that lurk in the memory vaults, are probably best left in those dark recesses. But there have been a few challenges at certain third world immigration points which hopefully will never happen again. But I will never forget the sinking-feeling-moment when I was told by an airline official that I would have to find 24 ‘volunteers ‘ from the group, who would be willing to remain behind and catch the same flight the next day. Long story short … I almost got arrested and we compromised by leaving the luggage behind for the next day’s flight. Not fun that one !
- What is the most amazing / off the charts / thing that you’ve done with your clients? Easy one ! Flown in a hot air balloon over the African savanna. Have to do that one again – next time though ….over the Okavango Delta !
- What is the best part of your job, and what is the worst? Being with people and discovering SA is unbeatable. It would be great to sometimes not have to do it in holiday season traffic though.
- What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to become a guide? Do your homework! Plan your day properly and ensure that your guests are happy with what has been arranged for the day. Always remember that your guests are on vacation, and even though you are not, you have to be in a similar frame of mind.
- What skills do you need to make it in this business? Experience is obviously the best of qualifications. A good sense of humour and humility go hand in hand. Manners and politeness will always be appreciated.
- What is your favourite wildlife moment? Sunset cruise on the Zambezi River, sipping something bubbly and chilled, golden African sunset and a herd of elephant swam across the river in front of us … gotta love those elly’s !
- Do you have a preferred nationality and why? I work almost exclusively with the American market and I am very fortunate to do so. We have a lot in common and there is a tremendous two-way dialogue, but we also have huge differences which makes for an always interesting discovery.
- If you could only go on one trip in your lifetime, which one would it be? I have recently visited Bali and was so overwhelmed that I intend to return to Indonesia and venture to some of the more unexplored regions, as well as spend a lot more time snorkeling around the island reefs. But the Okavango Delta ….. that’s the big one!
Some quick one answer questions:
Favourite country or place?
Chobe River – Botswana.
Favourite fishing spot?
Favourite restaurant and/or food?
Harbour House Restaurant in Kalk Bay for the Catch of the day!