Meet Frederick ‘Fred’ Phiri from Nkwali Camp in Zambia’s South Luangwa. He calls the Luangwa Valley home and is passionate about guiding in its vast, remote wilderness. His story is one of the courage to go out and do what he felt called to do, and his very special bond with Zambia’s most natural of regions.
Fred, you started your career at RPS as a chef in the Robin Pope Safari kitchens. You then decided to swap the kitchen life for the safari guide life. Why?
Fred: “Despite being in the kitchen my heart was always in the bush. The first camp I worked at as a chef was where we do our mobile safaris. This is in the middle of nowhere, deep in the bush of South Luangwa National Park. There, even as the chef, you get to have the experience of the bush as you are moving camps almost every day.
How did you learn the skills of guiding?
When I finally got into guiding training at Robin Pope Safaris, I started going out spotting and helping walking safaris by carrying a tea bag. This gave me the opportunity to spend time with experienced guides and I started socializing with guest too.
What is your favourite part of being a safari guide?
Fred: “My best part of my profession is when I am in the Park, either driving or leading a walk. I think I will always enjoy game drives but the experience of a walking safari is always memorable. Also at the end of the day I enjoy sitting down to a meal and talking with guests. This is like rewinding your day.”
You are on your way to becoming a specialised walking safari guide. Why do you think walking in the bush is so special?
Fred: “The special thing about the bush is the silence of nature. But you know in your mind that behind this silence there are all kinds of things happening.”