It is not easy to choose just one favorite travel memory as I am lucky to have plenty in mind! But if I have to talk about one it would be Christmas Eve in Uyuni, Bolivia, during my first backpacking adventure ever! We were staying in a salt house and I remember sharing this meal with complete strangers, eating cold pasta with salt for Christmas and drinking beer, with 3 blankets wrapped around me, and going to bed at 8pm to wake up early the next day to see the sunrise on a laguna with flamingoes. Definitely one of the most unusual Christmas I had, but also one of the best!
What is your favorite travel memory?
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
Working for DAKTARI has been a great yet challenging experience that made me grow so much on the professional side as well as the personal side. I have had the work with people from all over the world and work under pressure at times. I have definitely improve my conflict resolution and communication skills. I also had to work different positions to cover for leave or in interim and this has allowed me to expand my skillset and knowledge in different areas.
I have also a better understanding of the South African culture and history, and its current challenges. This makes me someone I believe even more open-minded and eager to give back to the communities.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
We regularly have former students who attended our onsite Environmental Education program or our offsite Eco Club who come back to DAKTARI to visit us. I especially remember Wellington: he first came when he was 12 years old, and kept coming back during his holidays to help with animals. He had always been passionate about animals and wanted to work with them.
Over the years we eventually offered him a volunteer experience as animal manager. We trained him at the wildlife orphanage and arranged for him to attend several courses, one of which was a wildlife rehabilitation course, and another a tracker-training course. Thanks to the support of Kruger2Canyon Biosphere he was enrolled in their Environmental Monitors Program. While he was a full-time paid employee as the DAKTARI’s animal manager he became confident with computer work and was always trying to improve the camps of the animals, coming up with innovative ways to give them enrichment. After two full years of experience with us, he has been recruited by Hoedspruit Endangered Species as a curator. Willington is such an ambassador for DAKTARI!
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
Our programs are divided into three main areas: Onsite Environmental Education program, Wildlife Orphanage, and Outreach, which comprises of bi-weekly Eco Club, campaigning in primary schools, Village Tour and Homestay. Volunteers can experience all of the above if they want. The longer they stay, the more likely they are to be able to do all the activities, and even more! We also offer excursions in the Kruger National Park or the Blyde River Canyon so they can explore the wonders of South Africa. Staying for 3 to 5 weeks is recommended to have a complete experience of DAKTARI!
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
DAKTARI is unique as it offers a combination of teaching children with our Environmental Education program and taking care of animals through our Wildlife orphanage. The volunteers that come to DAKTARI can experience a wide range of activities, both onsite and offsite, as we also make them participate in our Outreach programs. The team is flexible and always making sure we can provide the best experience possible, adjusting schedule to try to meet everyone's needs whilst still achieving our goal that is to educate and inspire local children to value their environment and stimulate community development.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
I believe that a company can only be successful if it has strong values and ethic and stand by them even in difficult times. The employees must also be aligned to these values and share the vision of the company, working as a team towards the same goal. Successful organisation are driven by passionate and competent leaders who are willing to take feedback to improve so they can keep delivering excellent results.