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Updated Wednesday, September 15th 2010 at 00:00 GMT +3
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Charity Cheruiyot, 30, works as a range guide and a mentor with And Beyond Travel company. She is based at the Bateleur Camp in the Masai Mara Conservancy and recently won the Born Free Foundation's 'Most Responsible Safari Guide' Award. She spoke to Matilda Nzioki

When did you decide to become a range guide?

I’ve always been interested in the tourism industry. At first, I wanted to join cabin crew but I did not succeed. I studied travel consultancy but after my second diploma, a job was hard to come by. I had a short stint as a waitress at the Stanley Hotel before I got an opportunity to become a range guide.

In September 2005, I did an interview for the job, which I passed, but they could not take me because I did not have a passport and a driving licence. I went and worked on that then went back, and the employer was impressed by my determination. I was called again to start training in April the following year.

How was the training?

We travelled to the Serengeti in Tanzania. It was sort of military training for seven straight months. There was little water, the houses were small structures and sometimes you would find a snake in there. Going to the loo at night was unheard of because chances of bumping into a wild animal were very high. We learnt about animals, rocks, insects, and vegetation and also about the company.

That must have been hard…

It was, and it did not help that the men were at first very hostile. I was the first lady ranger there; everyone cautioned me that the training would take a toll on me. I was always told to leave the bush and go do something ‘more suited’ for females. They gave up when they realised that I was not going to go anywhere and they were all surprised when I completed the training. The only other lady dropped out. After me, there have come three more ladies now. I’m happy to have set the trend.

The training however was fun. It drew me closer to nature, and at one point, most of my dreams had animals in them!

What exactly does your job entail?

From the moment I pick guests from the airstrip. I do the itinerary. Depending on the guests, sometimes there are morning drives, a walking safari, a night safari a field day and many other options. Depending on when we go out, we can have a picnic breakfast, a champagne breakfast, packed lunch or a bush dinner. When I am out with guests I am the guide, the driver, the waiter, the chef and the butler too. The dynamism is interesting.

In my posting as a mentor, I liaise with the manager on duty and other rangers to work on the day’s schedule. My days are quite busy, even during the low season, between March and May.

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