1. How long have you been guiding at Macatoo?
We started Macatoo back in 1995, so it is over 20 years now.
2. Where did you guide before this?
Before Macatoo I was based in Maun, Botswana doing mobile safaris (1993-95), as well as guiding in Zimbabwe, Namibia and Zambia. I have also guided on horseback in Kenya and Tanzania.
3. How did you get into guiding? Was there someone who inspired you?
For as long as I can remember I had always wanted to live and work in Africa, so guiding seemed to be the natural route to take. Also I knew more about horses than cars so horseback guiding was really the only option for me! I first went to South Africa, but soon realised that Botswana was the only place offering the true wilderness that I was searching for.
4. If you hadn’t become a riding guide, what was your Plan B?
I have no idea, there was no Plan B!
5. People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?
There really is so much that makes the job amazing, not least because guiding in the Okavango is always different, it’s never the same. High water, low water or no water, the seasonal variation is never-ending. That is why I came back to the Delta out of all the other locations. The down sides are you cannot watch enough rugby (but given England’s recent performance perhaps that’s a plus….?!).
6. If your favourite horse was a human, who would he/she be and why?
My favourite horse was ‘Ambos’, a 16.3hh Hanoverian. He was an amazing powerhouse of a horse but was the perfect, trusting lead horse. He would lead in to any problem without question. Who would he be if he was a human…that’s too tough a question to answer, but probably somebody brave!
7. What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?
I couldn’t live without the open spaces and the wilderness, it’s what I’ve become so used to now.
8. What has been your most memorable riding holiday week?
There really are so many memories, its hard to choose. Galloping alongside a herd of giraffe and zebra with Sir Mark Todd was not bad!
9. How do you relax after a day in the saddle?
With a book or newspaper back at my tent overlooking the floodplains.
10. What advice would you give a 21-year-old who wants to train for your job?
I would say don’t think that it it’s going to be easy; there are no quick routes. You will have to be prepared to start at the bottom and work your way up, but the end result will be worth it.
11. Where do you go on holiday?
Holidays are few and far between, but where possible I try to get out to visit other camps and lodges in Botswana to learn more and get more ideas. After being out in the bush for long stints it’s also nice to just to relax and spend some time at home.
Thank you John for some fantastic images and another amazing article. Olwen and the team look forward to seeing you in a few weeks’ time.
You can meet John from Macatoo at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.
38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.