With today being International Women’s Day, we wanted to mark it by celebrating the work Betty Ataitai does. Betty is one of our Field Guides at Mahali Mzuri and we’re proud to have her in our pride!
What’s your usual day like?
My alarm goes off at 4am, I dress and get ready to take our guests out on their daily safari game drives. As the morning game drive starts at 6am, this gives me a couple of hours to prepare the vehicle, and every morning is as busy as the one before!
It’s all about preparing every last detail, from blankets and hot water bottles to picnic baskets filled with breakfast treats, we try and think of everything so our guests enjoy their game drive to the fullest. I always have a cup of tea or coffee with our guests before heading out on a morning game drive as it’s a great way to get to know our guests.
The game drives will typically finish at 9am, but it’s entirely dependent on the day and the animals that we see. As they take place in the private Olare Motorogi Conservancy there’s plenty of animal life to be seen, and no two game drives are ever the same! Sometimes we stop off to treat our guests to an extra-special surprise picnic breakfast in the bush – nothing beats seeing the look on their faces when they see the set-up!
Afterwards, I chat to the guests about their afternoon plans and help to advise them about the activities they can get involved with.
What made you want to be a guide?
I took a Paramilitary course at the National Youth service which prepared me for some of the leadership and outdoor skills required to be a safari guide. I’ve been interested in nature all my life due to my Maasai background and I used to take care of a herd of sheep and goats.
What’s your most memorable work moment?
The moment I’ll never forget happened during migration season, which takes place between July and September when up to a million wildebeest make a 600km journey through Tanzania and Kenya in search of food and water. My car got a puncture, and whilst I am used to changing tyres, this time the jack failed. All the other guides had already passed the crossing that the wildebeest were headed to, and I was stuck next to a pride of lions with small cubs. This was one of those moments when you have to pick up your courage, so I focused on changing the tyre as quickly as I could to continue the journey. The guests got to see the wildebeest crossing and were very happy, which was the most important thing to me.
What’s the best part of your job?
I truly enjoy chatting with our guests; I get to meet people from all around the world from all kinds of backgrounds, which is fascinating to me and I get to share my knowledge and culture with them.
If you weren’t a guide, what job could you see yourself doing?
If I had another career, I would be a business woman. Sometimes people are surprised to hear this, but there are actually a lot of similarities between the two career paths; you have to be good at leading people, have excellent communication skills and follow your instincts. My community is also incredibly important to me and whatever job I do in life, I know that helping others would be central to my role.
What do your family and friends think of your job?
My family were certainly a little surprised when they heard that I was going to become a guide, to them it’s not a normal job for a woman within the Maasai Mara. Personally, I am happy because I feel I have succeeded in a male-dominated profession and I feel that all people should be educated and have the opportunity to pursue their dreams: men, women, and the whole nation.
And finally, what is your top tip for guests staying at Mahali Mzuri?
I suggest heading out on our guided community tour, which our guests often say is one of the most memorable parts of their stay. You can visit a local village and see the hustle and bustle of Maasai life, or head to a school to meet the students and their families.