A unique idea was born when Bryan and Sergio Jauregui of Todos Santos Eco Adventures (TOSEA), embarked on a grand adventure throughout Africa in August 2018, including visiting Imvelo Safari Lodges in Zimbabwe. It wasn’t too long after their safari that TOSEA’s Chef Iker Algorri from Los Colibris Casitas in Todos Santos, Baja California Sur made a guest appearance at Imvelo’s lodges for a cross-cultural culinary exchange!
Those trips were the genesis for something bigger – an innovative guide exchange program. Starting with the 2019/2020 season, TOSEA created a guide competition with the winner earning the chance to spend two weeks at Imvelo’s camps working and enjoying time on safari, with Imvelo and eventually other Kusini Collection partners in turn sending their guides to Baja California Sur for a reciprocal experience.
After winning the inaugural competition in 2020, top TOSEA guide Manuel Rodriguez waited out the pandemic for his chance to visit Zimbabwe to experience the ins and outs of the guiding life in the African bush. The trip proved to be transformational with an open and joyful exchange of ideas between Imvelo’s guides and Manuel, as well as a range of new cultural and wilderness experiences well outside his comfort/familiar/knowledge zone from Baja California Sur.
Manuel was thrilled to see cheetahs, hippos, giraffes, zebra, lions and many more thrilling African wildlife species. One major highlight for him was seeing elephants up close from Imvelo’s special ‘look-up blinds.’ Having the pandemic delay Manuel’s safari ended up being quite fortuitous – he was among the first people to spend time with Imvelo’s white rhinos, which were translocated across Zimbabwe during 2022 in a triumphant effort to restore them to their historic range in Hwange National Park.
The next cross-global guide exchange will originate from Namibia as top Ultimate Safaris guide Johann Cloete is embarking on the journey of a lifetime to Baja California Sur with TOSEA. Johann will be trading elephants for whales, rhinos for sea turtles and desert dunes for warm beaches. Ultimate Safaris is excited to be investing in a once-in-a-lifetime experience for one of its most experienced team members.
Todos Santos Eco Adventures, Imvelo Safari Lodges and Ultimate Safaris are united by a passion to preserve and protect their delicate environments while maximizing the social and economic benefits of luxury travel for their local communities and providing an unforgettable experience for guests. The guide exchange program created by TOSEA is just one of the ways in which these sustainable travel operators invest in their people, a key commitment that matured during the pandemic challenges of the past few years.
Johann has been working as a guide for 18 years on overland safaris and at lodges in Botswana and the eastern Cape as well as in Namibia but has never been out of Africa – until now. He was chosen by his fellow staff members after a rigorous appraisal process to decide who would take up this inspiring opportunity.
Johann now has the chance to explore another world, with its special ecosystem and some of the most spectacular marine life viewing destinations on the planet. Whales, dolphins, whale sharks, sea turtles, manta rays, and plenty of beautiful tropical fish call the waters surrounding Baja California Sur home, while a vast array of bird species including blue-footed boobies, reddish egrets, great blue herons and yellow-footed gulls frequent the skies and shores.
“I was thrilled to be picked,” commented Johann. “I could hardly believe it. This is an amazing chance to see how other dedicated conservation teams around the world work and to live in a completely different environment. I don’t experience marine life at the moment but I’m sure we will be able to learn from each other and discuss how we deal with all our challenges and celebrate our triumphs. I will have a lot to bring back to share!”
Tristan Cowley, co-founder and Managing Director of Ultimate Safaris commented “The guide swap initiative is a great opportunity for interaction and learning between people on different sides of the world who may have differing geographies, wildlife, and weather, but who share the same dedication to conservation and preservation. Providing this great opportunity for a key team member like Johann to gain insights and knowledge from a widely divergent society is a great way to expand his personal horizons and to motivate other members of the team to excel. We take pride in giving our guests an epic adventure when they come on safari with us, so it is great to be able to do the same for Johann.”
The winner of the current TOSEA guide competition will be the next to cross the globe in May 2023, spending two weeks in Namibia with Ultimate Safaris.
Watch Tad’s interview with Johann and Bryan from TOSEA: