Local Rwandan Junior Safari Guides Innocent Tuyisenge and Alphonse Ntabana are on track to becoming the first qualified FGASA guides in Rwanda. Training at our beautiful Magashi Camp in the abundant Akagera National Park, Innocent and Alphonse have had the incredible opportunity of learning from some of the best in the business, combining knowledge from Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa and, of course, our senior guides at Magashi.
So we decided to catch up with these two young leaders and find out more about them.
Innocent Tuyisenge started out with Wilderness Safaris as a waiter at Bisate in 2017, and then moved to Magashi when it opened in 2019, to continue his good work. His love for all things natural, and a dream to become a guide saw him expand his daily vocation to include the great outdoors.
Born in Uganda, Innocent grew up playing football and helping his father herding cattle and keeping them safe out in the bush. Originally from Rwanda, the family moved back to their homeland in the early 2000s, and Innocent completed his high school years. With a clear interest in tourism, Innocent completed a number of studies in Travel and Tourism Management, as well as training with Umubano Tours and Rwanda Safaris Guides Association.
Innocent believes that “Wilderness has provided me with expert training opportunities both in theory and in the field, so that I am able to achieve the best results possible. I feel that whoever I come into contact with in a learning environment offers me something different in terms of skills and training. I really look forward to growing as a guide and gaining more experience, and in the future, being able to pass on my knowledge to other Rwandans”.
Innocent’s ethos is clearly aligned with that of Wilderness Safaris. Not only is he passionate about conservation, but he cares deeply for the welfare of his community, and this is noted in his previous work with Fair Children Youth Foundation and Chance for Childhood.
“I love working for Wilderness Safaris because it’s a passion of mine to make other people feel special. Also being an ambassador for nature and conservation is very important to me. ‘Our journeys change lives’ is more than just a saying – through all the training and support, Wilderness Safaris has changed my life”.
Previously a freelance community guide for African Parks, Alphonse Ntabana started working at Magashi in March 2019. Like Innocent, he is a Rwandan citizen born in Uganda. During his secondary school years, the family made their way back to their country and Alphonse grew up rearing cows and looking after the family cattle in between his studies.
As a revered profession, Alphonse grew up believing he would one day become a doctor. However after he completed his Bachelor’s degree in Uganda (Kabale University), he came home and worked in another valuable field, this one in conservation and amongst nature in Akagera National Park. His current training is going well: “Our senior guides display passion and a willingness to share their knowledge. They have really helped us understand each aspect of FGASA manuals, and it’s always exciting to be on game drives with them, learn from them and seeing how they interact with guests. Should we continue learning like this on a daily basis we could be FGASA Level 1 guides by June 2021.
“Guiding is like travelling the world – you get to know different cultures and practices from all nations around the world. And that is the challenge as well. Adapting to these. You need to accept and acknowledge some things that you might not be used to.”
“Having spent a lot of my life in Uganda, I am so thankful for His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, and how he has brought peace and growth to the people of Rwanda. One of these areas of growth is tourism, and I am thankful that Wilderness Safaris is here. It’s a great company – very concerned about their employees. They provide us with training and also provide great opportunities where possible”.
As with Innocent, the motto ‘Our journeys change Lives’ rings true to Alphonse. “By working for Wilderness Safaris as one big family, I see my future as a bright one”.