Okavango Wilderness Safaris (OWS) continues to invest in the talent of Batswana professionals in the tourism and hospitality industry, across the value chain. This authentic celebration of local skills and culture is a core part of what makes guest visits to Wilderness properties in Botswana such an unforgettable experience. In this spirit, OWS celebrates the appointment of Cilas Mafoko to Guide Manager and Trainer.
In his new role, Cilas is mandated to deliver the new company guide strategy, and to work towards ensuring that OWS always empowers its guides to be the very best in the industry.
“We are incredibly proud of Cilas and his immense accomplishments in his 23 years with Wilderness. His growth is an inspiration to many, and is a true testament to what a passionate, experienced, skilled and knowledgeable guide trainer he is. It is these characteristics that have made him a firm favourite amongst the many guests he has guided over the years, and continues to guide to date. When he is not training, Cilas periodically guides multiple Wilderness repeat guests between Botswana and Zambia, showing the impressive depth of talent we have in our local tourism industry”, said Alex Chaplin, Okavango Wilderness Safaris Chief Operations Officer.
Having honed his skills for over 25 years in the guiding space, Cilas’ passion for his art began in his youth. He remains just as riveted by the wonders of nature as he was as a young boy growing up in Moshopha in the Tswapong area. “It was during this period in my life where I was enthralled by the natural world. The flicker of a bird’s wings, even the cattle mooing – it was then that I knew I wanted to work surrounded by the wonders of nature”, Cilas explained.
This dream came to be during Tirelo Sechaba (National Service), as Cilas was placed in the Department of Tourism as a Tourist Information Officer, before joining a charitable organisation that promoted environmental education and conservation, where he took children camping and hiking. In 2000, he joined Wilderness, first in the Linyanti Wildlife Reserve, at DumaTau, and then at Mombo, in the Moremi Game Reserve. He was promoted to Guide Trainer in 2010, working to identify, mentor and develop fully competent guides who stand out from the rest in the industry. Today, Cilas is regarded as amongst the very best in the industry, reputed for his professionalism, passion and embodiment of the Wilderness purpose.
His story of success and growth is not an isolated one. Supporting OWS’ investment in guides and their professional development, OWS in February conducted bespoke training for 58 guides across the business. This is further enhanced by access to dedicated training through the OWS Training Academy. Since 2015, OWS has delivered Botswana Qualification Authority-accredited (BQA) courses through in-house training facilities, with training programmes aligned to the National Qualification Framework of BQA, and enhanced with a focus on soft skills that lead to further leadership potential.
“We continue to train all employees to keep service standards at the highest level. This is essential to remain competitive. Cilas is a prime example of this. Our Academy trains hundreds of citizen staff annually on seven accredited courses. Between 2017 and 2022, we have trained 1,434 senior and junior staff on accredited BQA courses, and we hope to see this grow even further so that we have infinitely more success stories from our people”, concluded Alex