“It is well-known that Zimbabwe’s guides have earned a reputation for being among the best guides in Africa. Those who have visited Zimbabwe, and our Wilderness Safaris camps, will know that the secret to a life-changing safari is not only the incredible game viewing, and the beautiful scenery, but that the real magic lies in the quality of our guides.
It’s for this reason that we are profiling our Wilderness Safaris guides – starting with the legends of Zimbabwe…
Be inspired by our guides and their stories below.
So what does it take to be one of the best guides in the world?
Guides in Zimbabwe must each follow the demanding qualifications set out by the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA), in collaboration with Zimbabwe Professional Hunters and Guides Association (ZPHGA), in order to become a fully qualified Zimbabwe Professional Guide. They must also…
Pass a written exam (study for this takes, on average, a year).
Spend at least three years gaining hands-on experience in the bush. During this time, each trainee is apprenticed to a Professional (walking) Guide for tutoring and validation of milestones.
Undergo an interview conducted by a panel of judges – questions to the trainee guide are set out to test knowledge, experience and safety in the bush, as well as the practical skills he or she has learnt.
Pass a practical firearms exam, which determines his/her proficiency in handling a rifle.
Pass a seven-day “mock hosting” safari examination, in which the trainee guide is put to the ultimate test by his/her “guests” from ZPWMA and ZPHGA. Here, the guide is required to set up and run his/her own tented camp, and is judged on criteria such as hosting, safety, guiding and knowledge of wildlife, bushcraft, botany and habitats of Zimbabwe.
In Hwange, we are blessed with a multitude of special and long-serving people who are dedicated to creating exceptional guest experiences. Remarkably, some 700 local people are supported by our approximately 100 staff, the majority of whom are Ndebele. From manager and guide, to housekeeper and maintenance teams, they are known for their warmth and cheerful dispositions.
Meet a few of our legendary Zimbabwe guides:
In addition to his current role as Trade and Relationship Manager, Tendai Mdluli spearheads a culture of excellence in Zimbabwe as Guides Training Coordinator.
Tendai joined the company 22 years ago and has a wealth of experience in both the Operations and Sales departments. As many of you know, this knowledge cannot be gained from classrooms or books, and comes from experiencing it on the ground – having a hands-on approach when it comes to operating camps and lodges. This unique blend of Operations and Sales experience means that Tendai not only knows how our peers sell Wilderness Safaris, but also how we deliver on the journey, and more, in our lodges.
Tendai’s years of experience in the bush, his knowledge, passion, ability to teach and his eye for detail with service is guaranteed to take our guides and guiding to a new level. Since we know that we have some of the best guides in the industry, we’re raising the bar even higher, allowing improvement and growth on all aspects of guiding and service.
Tendai travels regularly through the camps, spending quality time with our guides, and imparting his invaluable knowledge and experience to all.
Peter has enjoyed a long career spanning 36 years doing what he loves most – researching, guiding and spending time in the Zimbabwe wilderness. Peter spent 14 years working for the Department of National Parks Terrestrial Research, where he gained invaluable knowledge that inspired him to fulfil his dream of becoming a professional guide. Since then Peter has guided in Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Zambia and Namibia, returning to Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park where he is based at Linkwasha Camp. Peter is also the head guide for our Wilderness Safaris Hwange camps, and has dedicated his time to taking learner guides for walks to gain the experience they need before their final examinations. Peter says, “I love guiding because it connects me to people travelling from all over the world, while placing me as a representative for my community and country. As a guide and naturalist I keep learning from both my guiding colleagues and travellers, through our ongoing sharing of knowledge”.
On meeting our gregarious, passionate and dependable private guide Charles Ndhlovu, you will be forgiven for assuming that he must have spent his entire life in the bush – because it is not far from the truth. Charles’s father, a game ranger himself, made it possible for his son to spend endless days in the wild. Naturally, after completing his school career, Charles eagerly followed his heart – and his father’s footsteps – into the bush…
Nyengedzayi, also known as Nyenge, another one of our legendary Zimbabwe guides, spent much of his youth exploring the bush, where he quickly developed a love for the outdoors. In 2015, Nyenge started guiding at Ruckomechi in Mana Pools, where he has worked ever since. As Nyenge says, “This is my fifth season at Ruckomechi, and I love the diversity of wildlife found here. Working for Wilderness Safaris has given me the opportunity to share my talents in guiding, meet wonderful people from all over the world, and continue to learn each and every day”.
Eustace grew up in Harare and began his guiding career with Wilderness in 2012. “My journey as a guide began at the old Linkwasha Camp, but I have worked at all our camps in Hwange National Park, and even worked at Ruckomechi Camp in Mana Pools National Park for a bit. What I love most about guiding is the freedom of working out in a huge ‘office’ without four walls – an environment where anything is possible”. Eustace has been based at Linkwasha since 2016 and loves the area for its diversity of birds and mammal species. “Dry season is my favourite – I love all the wildlife drama that comes along with it. One of my greatest passions is photography and I am always armed with my Olympus camera to freeze the precious moments I am witness to in the bush. The quality of images for such a small camera is mind-boggling!”
Children in the Wilderness Zimbabwe has hosted over 900 children on annual camps to date, while Eco-Clubs host more than 600 children on a weekly basis at their local schools
Every year, our Zambezi region guides are required to take part in a training course to ensure that they are up to speed with the latest guiding regulations. From 12-19 February 2019, our Guide Training took place at Davison’s Camp in Hwange National Park.
Reporting on the 2019 training, Tendai had this to say, “We couldn’t have had any better trainers than the three men dedicated to making sure our Wilderness Safaris and Zimbabwean guiding standard prospers and remains the best in the tourism industry. These men were none other than Gavin Ford, Dave Carson and Spike Williamson”.”
Kate MacWilliam23 Sep 2019
click to view video from Zimbabwe Professional Guides Association