Interview by Margaux Cintrano
Photos: G. Bauce
Tour operator, conservationist, author and photographer, Gianni Bauce from Turin, Italy has always had a passion for learning and sharing the beauty of the world of wildlife: his vivid descriptions, desire to explore, his admiration for his profession, people and places, and the profound values of conservation he holds, and breaths and lives.
Gianni is extremely passionate about wildlife since he was a mere child and he started travelling in Southern Africa, Zimbabwe, his current home, in the early 1990s. He decided to do something more than just travelling in Southern Africa, and he started to look for a way to work and live in Southern Africa .
Gianni Bauce has turned his passion for wildlife into a thriving tourism business, African Path Safaris, a success from the very start.
Margaux: Firstly, could you tell us where you were born and raised ?
Gianni: I was born in Northern Italy, about 50 kms from Turin, and I grew up there.
Margaux: What and who were the catalysts for your studies in Travel Toursim, Hospitality Management and the specialisation in African Safari Tourism ?
Gianni: I have always been extremely passionate about wildlife since I was a kid and I started travelling in Southern Africa (first place was Zimbabwe, my current residence place) in the early 1990s. In 1998 I had decided to do something more than just travelling and I started looking for a way to work and live in Africa.
The professional field of Wildlife and Nature Guide was the best choice, so I asked around and finally took a Field Guide course in South Africa. A friend of mine was a member of The Field Guide Association of Southern Africa, and a senior instructor, operating in Kwa-Zulu Natal, so I attended his courses and got my Field Guide licence.
Then, during my long career as a free lance safari guide I continued to take many other courses, amongst which were the venomous snake handling and bites treatments. When I moved to Zimbabwe I had to get my Zimbabwean licence to operate, and then I went to the University of Zimbabwe and received my Tour Guiding & Guest Relation Management certificate.
Tourism and photographic safaris proved to be the best way for me to live close to wildlife. Henceforth, I discovered my passion while showing the beauty of wildlife and my adopted country (Zimbabwe) to other people coupled with a never ceasing passion that is mandatory for every Guide to successfully provide our services to visitors.
Margaux: Tell us about how you first became interested in Africa, about your passion dream profession, and where you take your tour group clients.
Gianni: Apart from my passion for wildlife (when I was a kid the best gifts I received were wildlife books!), my first trip to Africa was due to a Wilburn Smith book, The Elephant Song. After reading this book, I decided to visit Zimbabwe and from then on I fell in love with Africa.
The potential of this country (Zambabwe) is enormous and I had started putting all my efforts into promoting its wonders through my Safari Operations, including bringing people to Zimbabwe and The African Bush Country, which is actually my dream profession and whenever I see people fascinated by the wonders of Africa, I realize and relive my dream.
As guides, we don’t teach anything to our guests. We share knowledge with them and often we learn from their questions or comments.
Most of my clients are from Italy. I chose this niche because Italian is my mother tongue. I am able to provide them with unique service, speaking Italian, so they can better understand what they are experiencing.
As an Italian, I can also understand, better than others, the need of my Italian clients. As per our mantra, “our job is not to sell a trip, it is to sell a dream, your African dream.”
My clients contact us via our Italian and English website (www.african-path,com), at conferences and presentations (I’m a writer as well so presenting my books, and we also advertise the safari operations) and the majority of our clients are recommended through word of mouth.
Some of the clients are frequent clients who used to travel in safari with us and they often bring and / or recommend friends.
Our safaris are “tailor made” safaris, so we actually build the itinerary according to clients’ passions and desires.
Usually, during an itinerary, we spend 50% in the wilderness looking for game, from the “big five” to the smaller (but not less interesting) creatures, allowing visitors to take wonderful photographs of the unique African wildlife and at the same time to learn about it.
The last but not the least item, as a high conservationist, we value the guests’ learning the habits and characteristics of animals, trees and the environment in which they can empathize more with the wildlife and understand the severity of the conservation problems.
After a safari with us, most of the clients have a higher respect toward animals, even for smaller creatures and toward the environment. At our camp, in the wilderness, for example, we don’t use electric light (just campfire and candles) and this assists the visitors to understand that sometimes we can do without something that seems to be essential for life, but it’s not.
For the remaining 50% of the time on Safari, we visit attractions ranging from natural to historical to cultural attractions of the country we are visiting, through which visitors can know and understand better the country they are visiting.
We also try to spend time with the local community to promote cultural exchange that is one of the most appreciated experiences during our safaris.
The bottom line is, we try to operate sustainable tourism at 360°, minimizing our impact on the environment and maximizing our positive impact on the hosting community. This is very effective and at the end of the journey is the dream of every traveller.
Cont in Part 2
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