Zimbabwe is famed for offering some of the best guides in Africa. We look at the big names in guiding and what their specialities are in a close up of the Best of the Best.
Garth Thompson – Lower Zambezi & Zambezi National Park
For over 25 years Garth Thompson has provided the opportunity for visitors to explore the Zimbabwean wilderness and is revered as the best known guide in Africa. With immeasurable enthusiasm and carefully honed tracking skills, Garth shares both the obvious highlights and the subtle influences of what makes the African bushveld so exceptional. While he guides through seven countries in Africa, he most enjoys exploring the waterways of the Mana Pools, Zambezi and Lower Zambezi National Parks in his canoe.
Beks Ndlovu – Hwange
Being raised in a small town in rural Zimbabwe did not hold Beks Ndlovu back from his passion of spending time in the bush exploring the wildlife, birdlife and natural wilderness. On finishing his studies, he started as a trainee safari guide in the Gwayi Valley on the outskirts of the Hwange National Park while also spending time on the Zambezi where he was soon awarded the prestigious River Guide of the year award in 1997. He went on to work in many National Parks around Zimbabwe and later started African Bush Camps, which fulfilled his vision of delivering on the guest experience through personalised guiding and hosting. He was awarded Runner Up in the 2012 Safari Awards for ‘Best Personal Contribution to Safari Tourism in Africa’ and continues to delight visitors to Zimbabwe with his insights and in-depth knowledge.
Humphrey Gumpo – Mana Pools
Well known as ‘the’ specialist for Mana Pools, Humphrey Gumpo has been wowing visitors to the National Park with his keen insights and knowledge of the area for more than 10 years. While he is renowned as an expert guide throughout Zimbabwe, it is the remote Mana Pools area that has captivated him and where he has got to know the animals most intimately. From where the wild dogs are denning to which elephants are more relaxed than others; his expertise and perceptions allow visitors to enjoy the very best safari experience.
Paul Hubbard – Matopos
Offering more than just immense knowledge of wildlife and birdlife, Paul Hubbard’s passion is in history and archeology which he shares in an easy and enthralling manner. His involvement in the Mother Africa Trust enables Paul to assist in various community based projects improving education and environmental conservation in local communities while he continues with his archaeological studies and historical research. A trip with Paul to the Matopos and the surrounding National Parks will include rich cultural, archaeological and historical insights in addition to his tremendous knowledge of the animal and bird life.
John Stevens – Zambezi Valley
Renowned as a stalwart of guiding in Zimbabwe, John Stevens has spent many years in the Zambezi Valley and surrounds as warden of both the Matusadona National Park on the banks of Lake Kariba, and Mana Pools National Park in the Lower Zambezi Valley. In the 1980’s he left the Park’s service to build a camp on the banks of the Zambezi before starting his own guided safari company specializing in walking, canoeing and game viewing safaris in Zimbabwe. His warm and easygoing nature along with his refined tracking skills make him a highly sought after guide not only in his home country Zimbabwe, but also in Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Malawi, Kenya and Tanzania.
Clive Stockil – Gonarezhou
Honoured with the Lifetime Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa, for his continued conservation efforts spanning nearly 40 years, Clive Stockil believed early on that conservation was only possible with the help and interaction of local communities in protected areas. Growing up in the remote south-east of Zimbabwe, Clive vowed early on that he would work out in the bush helping to preserve the natural habitat. He helped create Zimbabwe’s biggest private game reserve in the Save Valley, now home to Zimbabwe’s greatest rhino populations, and was invaluable in the negotiations to form the Gonarezhou National Park with the local Shangaan who live in the area. He is revered as one of Africa’s greatest conservation pioneers.
Steve Edwards – Lake Kariba
The charismatic Steve Edwards has made his home at Lake Kariba where he owns an intimate tented camp on a small island wilderness. With more than 30 years of guiding experience, he’s happiest when out in the bush sharing his knowledge and insights, and is an expert birder. Steve was involved with the reintroduction of black rhino to the Matusadona National Park, and enjoys taking his guests into the park on walking safaris where these and other animals can be tracked. He is also a keen paleontologist and recently discovered a fossil site with four species of dinosaur.
Leon Varley – Middle Zambezi Escarpment
Exploring the finest of Zimbabwe’s National Parks on foot since the early 1980’s, Leon Varley and his support team of Ndebele trackers have formed a firm reputation as the ‘go-to’ for walking safaris in Zimbabwe. The pioneer of walking safaris in the Chizarira, Hwange, Kazuma and Zambezi National Parks, his intimate wildlife knowledge covers an extensive area from Victoria Falls and the north-west, including Hwange where he lived for many years, to Chizarira National Park in the Zambezi area. His favourite is walking the bushveld of the middle Zambezi escarpment, however he also guides trips to other Zimbabwe National Parks and select destinations in neighbouring countries across southern Africa.
Andrew ‘Stretch’ Ferreira – Mana Pools
Exploring the wilds of the Mana Pools area for over 25 years, Andrew Ferreira (or Stretch Ferreira as he is more commonly known) was a former hunter who lost the desire to kill and instead uses his keen bush instincts to track animals on foot on walking safaris. Often referred to as the ‘Elephant Whisperer’, he has a close relationship with these mighty mammals. He is based in a camp on the banks of the Zambezi River from where he conducts hikes, game drives and short canoe trips to explore the surrounding wilderness and game.
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