Q&A with field guide, Jonas Phago

Jonas is our Head Guide and Lodge Manager at Ekuthuleni Lodge. He’s worked at the lodge for an incredible 18 years and his love for the bush and knowledge of the area is second to none.  We chatted to him about how he became a field guide, what makes Ekuthuleni so unique and his top safari moment to date.

1. What makes Ekuthuleni Lodge so special?

Ekuthuleni means ‘Place of Peace’ and it truly lives up to its name. It is situated right at the heart of the Welgevonden Private Game Reserve, which makes it possible to reach and explore any area of the reserve within a three hour game drive. The lodge overlooks the plains but it is also situated in the valley surrounded by the Waterberg mountain range. Plus, the warmth of the lovely and devoted team makes Ekuthuleni a special place to be.

2. Tell us how you became a field guide at Ekuthuleni.

About 18 years ago, I came to Ekuthuleni to stand in for somebody who was ill. I was very lucky to meet the caring land and lodge owners who asked me to join them on a game drive to help communicate to other workers in Afrikaans. That was my first introduction to wildlife. The number of questions that came from those game drives made me learn more about the wild and my place of birth. The knowledge I gained about the bush from trying to find the answers to my questions made me love the area and Ekuthuleni more and made it my home. It inspired me to take a game ranging course and pursue becoming a field guide. I am now the Head Guide and Lodge Manager at Ekuthuleni.

3. Describe a typical day…

For me, a typical day at Ekuthuleni is waking before sunrise, meeting with guests for an early morning coffee and going out for our morning game drive while it is still fresh and crisp. We drive the valleys and the plains and search for the animals who are still active in the coolness of the morning. After our morning game drive, we spend the day relaxing and enjoying the peace of the bush. Then we venture out again for an evening game drive once it has cooled down and the animals become active once more. This is followed by a spectacular sunset and a few sundowners with our guests.

4. What’s the animal you never get tired of spotting in the wild?

I will never tire of the beauty of a rhino, it is always a rewarding sighting. The dark cloud of rhino poaching that hangs over our rhinos makes each sighting that much more special.

6. When would you say is the best time of year to visit Ekuthuleni?

All year around! It is always a good time to visit Ekuthuleni. In summer the bush is green, beautiful and full of life with babies and newborns running all over. The winter is clear with shorter grass, which is great for viewing and following the abundant game in the reserve. The Waterberg area has the luxury of good weather all year round.

7. Tell us about your top safari moment

My top safari moment took place years ago on a lovely summer morning. We stumbled across a wildebeest giving birth. It was like witnessing a miracle. I will never forget watching the new born standing minutes after giving birth, finding its feet and feeding within 20 minutes. It was incredible.

Keen to learn more about Ekuthuleni Lodge? Watch our video, which celebrates this magical place we are lucky to call home and catch a glimpse of Jonas in the flesh. Please get in touch with any questions. We are here to help.