Earlier this year, Angama’s two female guides headed up north to Segera Retreat in Kenya’s Laikipia to join the ROAR AFRICA Women’s Empowerment Retreat for a week of recognizing the female pioneers in travel. This is Sophie’s story of her time up north.
When the opportunity arose to join the ROAR AFRICA’s Women’s Empowerment Retreat, I was eager and excited. Firstly, because it would be the first time I’d ever set foot on Kenya’s northern frontier, and secondly because I would have the chance to meet Segera’s first female safari guide, Mercy.
I remember the mixed feelings I first had about entering the male-dominated guiding industry. I was one of very few women who had ventured into this field and I had many doubts and great uncertainty about my ability to succeed. Now, it’s been just over a decade and I am so glad I made the decision to stay and work hard, because other women have also beaten the odds and followed suit – including Mercy of Segera.
Deborah Calmeyer, Founder and CEO of ROAR AFRICA is a big advocate of female empowerment. Shortly after she spoke with Nicky about her plans for the Women’s Empowerment Retreat for 2021, the plane set off and together with my fellow female Angama guide, Alice, we headed north to offer moral support and mentorship to Mercy as she prepared to trailblaze for the many women and girls who also dream of one day becoming guides.
Soon after arriving, we met Mercy, a woman with a contagious smile who welcomed us into her home – Laikipia – a new land filled with all kinds of exciting creatures.
Particularly exciting for me was to be in the land that the last northern white rhino, named Sudan, roamed. I immediately felt the urge to go and connect with him and visited the site where his remains were buried. Even in his death, his presence was strong.
At Segera, conservation efforts are at the forefront with guides and rangers collaborating to always take initiatives to the next level. Alice and I, alongside Mercy and her team, learnt about the perseverance involved in tracking down poachers with a canine unit – I must admit, at times it was a challenge to keep up.
The game drives were equally rewarding. Seeing the likes of the common waterbuck and grevy zebra who are absent in the Mara, was a treat.
Our adventure up north soon came to end – but next we had the opportunity to bring Mercy to my homeland, Angama and the Maasai Mara – a place she fell in love with instantly. She spent two weeks with us and we created memories that will last a lifetime. But even more importantly, she has begun a journey few are willing to undertake, which in the future I hope will inspire more girls to become grateful and great ambassadors of conservation.