Matetsi Victoria Falls Guide Training

Every few months we are fortunate to have James Varden, Professional Guide and owner of Ride Zimbabwe, come through to do training with our guiding team.

With the infinite amount to be learnt about the natural world around us, continual professional development is essential for our guides and trackers. Focused training sessions also give them an opportunity for team bonding, and stimulates their passion for the flora and fauna around them.

The week always starts off with at least one exam, for example a Habit and Habitat paper set by the National Parks and Wildlife Authority to assess individual’s knowledge in this area. The exams are done by all guides and trackers and gives them all a good indication of where they are at with their knowledge in the specific areas.

Over the course of the week, James and the team spend time between the lodge, the Zambezi River line and of course the vast Matetsi Private Game Reserve – this 136 000 acre wilderness concession, with 9 miles of river frontage, is possibly the best classroom in the world!

These training sessions have a strong emphasis on safety, as this is the number one priority. There is also always a recap regarding hygiene, as well as First Aid training, and sessions on weapon handling (N.B. weapons are only carried for protection on Matetsi Private Game Reserve, which is a photographic concession).

Other focus areas this time were Bird Identification (with a whole day dedicated to this as it happened to be the eBird Global Big Day while James was here), Spoor Identification and Communication. The team also shared interesting tips with each other, for example, how to measure an elephant front foot track in order to estimate that animal’s shoulder height.

Many thanks to James Varden for his time spent with our team on property, and for the photographs and updates during the course of the week. We look forward to welcoming you back. If you love seeing what we get up to in this corner of the world, connect with us on Instagram:

James Varden / Ride Zimbabwe

Matetsi Victoria Falls


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Camp Manager

Caroline Yotamu

Zimbabwean born, Caroline joined the Matetsi Victoria Falls family as Camp Manager in mid-2022, and she thrives on going the extra mile for our guest experience. Caroline brings with her a breadth of experience from 5* luxury properties across South Africa, including, Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa, Karkloof Safari Villas, Thanda Private Game Reserve and the Oyster Box, as well as from managing Asilia Africa’s flagship Naboisho Camp in Kenya.

Caroline holds a Diploma in Hospitality Management from the International Hotel School, and is studying for a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in Hospitality Operations Management through the same institution. After many years of working abroad, Caroline and her husband Eric (who manages a property in the neighbouring Zambezi National Park) are delighted to be back in Zimbabwe, and in their free time they love bird watching. 

Quality Assurance Manager

Sara Ellis

Sara Ellis is an incredibly dedicated and hard working member of our Matetsi family. Having been our Head Pastry Chef for over four years, Sara transitioned to her role of Quality Assurance Manager in early 2022, bringing with her a wealth of experience and an unparalleled attention to detail. Sara works primarily behind the scenes, supporting all departments to ensure that the Matetsi Magic shines through brightly in every one of our guest’s stays with us.

Sara holds a Cordons Bleus Grande Diploma from Silwood School of Cookery, Cape Town, and has worked at some exceptional Southern African establishments, including Ellerman House and Singita Pamushana, as well as on private yachts.

Sara is mother to two wonderful boys, wife of our Executive Chef, Shane Ellis, and an individual who shows great commitment not just to Matetsi Victoria Falls, but also to our local community in many ways, including standing on the Parents’ Association and driving fundraising initiatives for a local primary school.

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