Footsteps in Africa, Botswana recently launched their brand new website with a new tag #traveldeeper. Distinctive and independent, the lodges in their collection are hand-picked to connect the traveller with remote places and are dedicated to telling their unique stories, while supporting the improvement of local economic benefits, preserving traditions and working to conserve endangered wilderness. We asked Tara, GM for FIA our 10Q’s.
1. Please introduce yourself by telling us what inspired you to start/work with Footsteps in Africa?
Tara Venter, Business and Relationship Manager. I have been part of this family for the last 11 years.
2. Did you always dream of working in this industry or did you set out to do something else? What led you to where you are now?
Born and raised in the UK, at the tender at of 7 I first visited South Africa with my family and fell in love with the Kruger National Park and safaris. I announced at the end of the holiday ‘When I grow up I am going to be a game ranger in the Kruger National Park’. Fast forward 12years, I still had not grown up but I packed up my life in the UK to follow my dream. I qualified as a guide and began working as a horse back safari guide in the Greater Kruger. As with many in this industry our roles change as our personal lives change and I left guiding. I knew that I wanted to stay in the industry that I loved and was so passionate about at which was when I joined to Footsteps in Africa team. I started off as a Reservations consultant and slowly worked my way up.
3. What has been your greatest challenge(s) along the way with FIA?
It is no secret that Footsteps in Africa have had quite the journey since it was started 13years ago and I have personally been a witness to most of these ‘challenges’. I don’t think there is one single challenge that has been the greatest, we just go with the flow, stay positive and look to the future.
4. What one ‘thing’ has been integral to your journey from the start?
Peter Sandenbergh! He may no longer be with us in person but he was my boss and my mentor and is still a huge part of this journey every day.
5. Do you have a favourite animal or bird and why?
Favourite animal would have to be the honeybadger. They are feisty, full of attitude and they never give up.
6. What is your favourite season or time of year in Botswana?
I love every season if I am honest, every season is so different and offers something different. If I had to pick one I think it would be our Green Season. Witnessing the first rains, witness the bush break out in colour. Birds returning with their vibrant colour and song. The game viewing is in my opinion also so much better in the Green Season particularly in the Okavango Delta when the water levels are at their lowest.
7. What are your top three reasons for visiting Botswana?
The people! The Wildlife! The Landscapes!
8. What is latest from Botswana, in terms of the impact of Covid 19?
Botswana has been fortunate to have had very few cases of COVID19, our Government were very proactive in placing the country in lockdown in April to ‘slow the curve’. Our borders, for now, remain closed however we expect domestic travel to open up very soon followed by International.
During this quiet time it seems that mother nature has taken back ‘her wilderness’. The Okavango is experiencing the most incredible flood bringing new life to areas that experienced severe drought last year, the floods have again reached Maun and beyond.
With the camps and lodges being quiet the animals seem to have relaxed during this time and there have been many reports of game moving in and out of camp daily. Deception Valley Lodge had a sighting of the elusive brown hyena this week which is incredibly rare, he/she even stuck around long enough for photos.
The camps/lodge staff are preparing for when guests return, they are eagerly awaiting everything to get back to the ‘new normal’.
9. What can people do to support wildlife conservation and protect communities where you are, during this time?
Footsteps in Africa biggest commitment during thee trying times is to our people. To the staff members of all the lodges in our collection, ensuring that they are still receiving a salary and are able to continue to support their families. The biggest support people can give during these times is to postpone bookings instead of cancelling, commit to future travel plans and keep our staff employed.
10. Is there anything you would like to say to past and potential guests and the wider Africa conservation and interested community?
I think the most important thing I can say is thank you. Thank you for continuing to support our camps and products through encouraging your clients to postpone rather than cancel. Thank you for the ongoing support and communications as we navigate through new Terms and Conditions and policies. Thank you for standing with us and maintaining positivity and engagement. We are looking forward to working with you for a successful 2021, if not before.