Realizing a dream in the challenging safari industry of the Okavango Delta requires a mix of hope, vision, and motivation. Alistair Rankin, the late Mr Chris Hatshe, and Murray Collins, lifelong friends who first met in the Delta during their childhood, embody this trio.
Chris Hatshe and Alistair Rankin started their careers as young lodge managers in the Okavango Delta. The spark for their shared dream occurred one evening around a campfire when Hatshe, originally from Xaxaba in the Delta, revealed his aspiration to run a tourism camp in the region. Rankin enthusiastically endorsed the idea, setting the stage for an incredible journey. Little did they know, it would take over two decades for their dream to materialize.
In 1998, Hatshe established Eco Africa Mobile Safaris. Despite going their separate ways professionally, Hatshe and Rankin stayed connected. Rankin, now managing the Wilderness Leadership School, provided international guests for Hatshe’s mobile safari business.
The turning point came in 2011 when Hatshe informed Rankin that the dream they discussed 20 years earlier had come true. Hatshe had secured a tourism plot in Khwai, earmarked for development. Without hesitation, Rankin flew to Maun to meet Hatshe, sealing a partnership to build a camp in Khwai. With financial limitations, they sought the support of their friend Murray Collins, and together, they birthed Machaba Safaris, opening the Machaba camp in Khwai.
Today, Machaba Safaris, born out of a childhood dream three decades ago, operates camps in the pristine areas of Botswana and Zimbabwe. The name “Machaba,” meaning sycamore fig, symbolizes abundance in local culture, reflecting the growth of Machaba camps to ten locations in Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Driven by a passion to revive the spirit of classic safaris in the modern era, Machaba Safaris recently celebrated the opening of its luxury tented Kiri Camp in the Okavango Delta’s NG32 concession. Attended by the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation, and Tourism, Philda Kereng, the event marked a milestone in Machaba Safaris’ partnership with the Okavango Kopano Mokoro Community Trust.
Minister Kereng praised Machaba Safaris for diversifying tourism, promoting conservation, and contributing to community development in the OKMCT area. She highlighted the camp’s local impact, employing 95% of staff from the OKMCT area and initiating projects like building Pre-Schools and water reticulation.
Alistair Rankin, Director of Machaba Safaris, emphasized the historic nature of Kiri Camp’s opening, underscoring the journey from a dream 30 years ago to operating ten camps across Botswana and Zimbabwe. He reiterated their commitment to a philosophy centered on classic safari style, conservation, and community development, contributing to tourism growth and upliftment in both countries.
Rankin concluded by urging investment in empowering youth, emphasizing their pivotal role as future leaders responsible for conservation and tourism.