Hotel Institute Montreux Alumna Alina Redka has been working at Wilderness Safaris as a Lodge Manager for 3 years.
I still remember sitting on my balcony in Montreux overlooking Lake Geneva, while I wrote my motivation letter for Wilderness Safaris in Botswana. The excitement of new opportunities overtook my fear of the unknown with my sights squarely focused on adventure. And before I knew it, I was on a flight from Geneva to Johannesburg, South Africa then connecting to Maun, Botswana. The place where it all started…
Upon my first day of arrival I have memories of new faces, unusual humor, lots of different shades of Khaki and a whole lot of coffee to keep me awake after such a long journey.
From Russia to Switzerland to Botswana – talk about culture shock! What was your experience adjusting to the change?
Cultural differences can offer the greatest opportunities for learning but are also a common source of difficulties and stress. My experience was definitely challenging in the beginning as it is not an easy task to open your mind to the idea that everything you knew prior to this experience needs to be amended and adjusted to fit the African mentality. In Botswana, everything works on African time. The Swiss punctuality you learned in school should be left in the suitcase you travelled with. In that same suitcase you can pack away your idea of perfection and your anger as this will only distract you.
After 3 years in Botswana how have you adjusted?
After 3 years living and working in Botswana, I can understand the local language of Setswana, I love dancing & singing along with locals and am proudly referred to as Motswana by my local colleagues.
Can you describe your living arrangements?
In our camps we live in houses with a wooden base, canvas walls and mesh windows. And almost every night, the sounds that fill my room as I drift to sleep are lions roaring on the other side of my canvas walls, wandering hyenas breathing deeply on my doorsteps and elephants crunching branches in the garden.
What is a safari experience like at your camp?
A safari to Okavango Delta is an active and intense learning experience with exposure to local culture, animals, birds and nature. Coming here exposes the visitor to the understanding of our existence as a whole and the circle of life where everything serves a purpose. On safari, every turn brings new memories and has the possibility to wake up emotions that may have been asleep for a long time.