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Khakif Dec 23rd, 2007 07:19 PM

Favorite Guides
Atravelynn, you asked me for a list of favorite guides(See $1200 Per Night Private Mobile Safaris). Didn't want to hijack Cobbles' post, so reposted here.

Here's my list (but you have to promise to share yours too):

Donald Young (Kenya) at

Justin Bell (Tanzania) at

F. Pierre-Nina (TZ) is an elite and most wonderful guide/host, but you would only encounter him through word-of-mouth.

Peter Jones of Tanganyika Film & Safari Outfitters;

John Stevens (Zimbabwe)
Marc Baker (TZ)
Gavin Ford (A&K-Botswana)
Richard Bonham (Kenya)
Robin Pope (Zambia)
William-Carr Hartley (Northern Kenya)
Alessandra Soresina (Female from TZ)
Roland Purcell-Katavi
Billy Winter (Kenya)
George Mavroudis Safaris (TZ)
Jo Anderson (TZ)

simbakubwa Dec 24th, 2007 09:11 AM


I see of your 15 favourite guides for East Africa they are all white people!!!

How on earth can all your favourite guides be white??

Surely there must be some good local guides of East African origin?

sandi Dec 24th, 2007 10:04 AM

I can't comment re the specific guides shown by Khakif, but there are lots of white people in Africa, whether East or Southern. Many of whom have been in the safari business since childhood. Africa is there home also!

Over the years of upheavel in Zimbabwe with many whites leaving the country, so too did those who owned camps or guided, moved onto more favorable countries. These included: Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania.

During the Apartheid period, there were only white (blond hair, blue eyed) Rangers. Not till after this system was disbanded, did camps begin hiring black Rangers. We had an outstanding guide when at Singita, though the only black Ranger at that time.

I can assure you there are excellent indigenous (black) guides, working directly for outfitters or specific camps in both Kenya and Tanzania.

In fact, those travelers who commented about their guides have included names in their trip reports or separated threads.

nyama Dec 24th, 2007 11:21 AM

Here are two top guides I met during my last safari; both are still living in Zim, and both are indigenous - one black and one white:
Benson Siyawareva (
John Stevens (

Nyamera Dec 24th, 2007 12:21 PM

All my guides have been black and more or less incompetent. Khakif’s list is a bit surprising as 99% of Kenyans are black. I suppose white Kenyans are overrepresented in the safari business, but I’ve never met a single white guide in my 4 trips. I’m generally surprised at how many white Africans and expats Fodorites meet when travelling. Though in southern Africa demographics and recent history are a bit different.

Maybe “black men can’t guide” would be an interesting thing to say after a few Christmas dinner snaps.

Merry Christmas!

nyama Dec 24th, 2007 01:19 PM

Different markets, Nyamera, different markets.

I once met Don Young in Botswana where he showed me some pictures of his mobile camp (look at the start page of Btw, very nice guy.

You also should visit Bill Winter's website, Interesting concept...

matnikstym Dec 24th, 2007 04:39 PM

My favorite guides:
Foster Siyawareva-Zimbabwe/Zambia. (Benson's brother)
Victor-Luangwa River Lodge
James-Luangwa River Lodge
and of course Beaven, but think he's now in Angola...
All black indigenous guides with years of experience.

HariS Dec 24th, 2007 07:25 PM


It probably is a question of training - My guess is, In East Africa there are lots of drivers on safari and as a result, some of them are incompetent.

The only white rangers i've had on safari are in the Sabi Sands - all very professional and good, but, some of the best guides i've known are native Africans - i'm talking about Botswana mostly. But, our guides at both the Mara camps we stayed in, were very good also.

Happy Holidays


mkhonzo Dec 25th, 2007 12:38 AM

And some native guides are actually white too!

Khakif Jan 17th, 2008 10:18 AM

Sorry I did not responded earlier. January ’08 has proven to be more than I can handle, (DH’s health is failing rapidly, last week I put my cat pal of 17 years to sleep, and I am packing for a cross-country trip and new career). Whew....

Regarding my list of favorite guides, many of you questioned my choices. Please know that I pick guides who have a considerable amount of knowledge, skill and years of experience. Many have spent their life conducting scientific field studies, or serve on the boards of various charities/conservation organizations or work with the United Nations. Some assist the government in their conservation efforts. Some were paramount in developing the curriculum and standards used to train others, so as to expand our choices. Most important to me, after their guiding capabilities, is their “proven” track record; how they contribute their time and money to make the world around them a better place for all of us. Sorry, but color has never entered into the selection criteria.

There are many great black guides in East Africa. Horace Nafta Nassari (Liboni of the Meru tribe and founder of an environmental school) comes to mind. The reason Horace’s name was not placed on my fav’s list is that contacting him would be near impossible for the general public. I have enjoyed my safaris with him and he is truly a man who makes the world around him a better place.

jenack Jan 17th, 2008 10:54 AM

I had a wonderful guide in the Mara.He was actually green. It was hard to get used to at first, but I soon realized that his ability to blend into the foliage allowed us to get incredibly close to the wildlife. I think he was French. Or from New Jersey.

luangwablondes Jan 17th, 2008 11:13 AM

This is my opinion only.

The standards are lower nowadays to allow black guides to step up and do the job. Many of the top guides had difficult training programs and tests to become a qualified guide, besides having some amazing mentors. You should see the kind of curriculum they have in these ranger schools. Some just picked up by living it. Then the black guide must ‘master’ the language of the clients- English is not the easiest. In the process he(she) must overcome cultural barriers, so basically he can relate to the clients, in the bush, at the table and around the camp fire- Not so easy when you think of all the differences. Armed with that knowledge, he would make a formidable guide. Then he needs to often be a driver- think about that one, mechanic, communications expert, chef,photographer, techno-gizmo geek, ect. These are just a few things off the top of the head.

So finding a black guide in the top guides list is a fairly amazing thing today. He has major obstacles to achieve that status.

jenack Jan 17th, 2008 11:19 AM

Not to mention green guides.

atravelynn Jan 17th, 2008 01:45 PM

Thanks for all the info.

HariS Jan 17th, 2008 06:29 PM

"So finding a black guide in the top guides list is a fairly amazing thing today. He has major obstacles to achieve that status." - LB

Some of the old-school guides in say, Botswana are amongst the best and are probably hard to match .... some are in camp management now, some starting their own mobile operations and others still guiding in same place or differnt locations. Example, Spencer, Charles, Mothusi, Steve Kgwatalala, Kanawe, Ras Mundu, BB etc etc., hard to match ......

luangwablondes Jan 17th, 2008 07:01 PM


Which old school guides?

crassman Jan 19th, 2008 01:36 AM


Why do you keep going on safaris to Kenya if all your guides are in your words "more or less incompetant"

Try another country!

crassman Jan 19th, 2008 01:55 AM


Maybe "white men can guide" would be a better topic?

Some food for thought...

Decades ago safaris were not nearly as popular as today. Basically all the "Eco-tourism pioneers" were white. Initially many poachers were employed as trackers (the guys who sit on the bonnets on modern day game viewers)in order to help them change their ways and locate animals for tourists. Rangers/guides were 99% white. Many trackers in turn were inspired by watching/listening to their rangers interacting with guests and chose to become rangers themselves. This has been a natural progression and did not happen overnight.

It should therefore not surprise people that there are so many older, experienced guides who are white.

By the way the modern day trackers are nowhere near as good as the ex-poachers. Nobody comes near the Shangaan trackers who work in the Kruger Park area (will start a separate thread on this)

Shumba Jan 19th, 2008 02:42 AM

For me,

If someone wants a good, old school guide, then they must be either Zimbo or from the Luangwa.

Botswana guiding levels are pretty low. They are mainly cat hunters at Kwando and wilderness. Overall, although they can deliver a good experience, their base knowledge is pretty low.

To give an idea, to become a guide in Botswana, a Mostwanan only requires around 50-60% in their exams. Whereas a foreign guide requires 80%. So it is easy to see why white guides are generally at a higher level.

Most white guides are more culturally atuned and have european, American experiences. They have a better ability to judge guest requirements.

Zambian guides are like record players in many cases. Great knowledge, but can often become boring.

Botswana guides, look for the excitment often. They are action guides with only a base knowledge.

Zim guides, the best of both worlds!!!!!!!! This goes for both black and white professional guides. Exceptional! In Zim, the basic level of education is far higher than their surrounding countries. I think that makes a major difference.

Just the two cents of a SA qualified guide...............

sniktawk Jan 19th, 2008 03:26 AM

I really cannot comment much on Eastern Africa as there is no need for a guide in the Mara just a driver. Undoubtedly the best guides are from Zimbabwe, this is easily explainable as they have the highest standard of training, largely because they are trained to comply with the standards of the hunting trade even if they do not intend to practice it. South African guides were very good as again the standard of training was high, this is sadly not now the case. The guides at Kwando are all coloured and very good. This is because they are properly trained, and many of them have worked their way up from trackers.

The easiest way to spot a bad guide is the fact that when you approach an animal the first thing that you will be told is the gestation period.

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