• Jul 7, 2022

Winners of Safari Guide of the Year 2022

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

The Safari Guide of the Year 2022 competition was nothing short of spectacular. The five finalists spent the week showing off their skills in multiple events, from advanced rifle handling to bush walks, game drives, and track and sign. It was the ultimate show of skills and knowledge in the guiding industry, and Bushwise was thrilled to be the host sponsor. The finalists were:

Liam Henderson, the Homestead in Nambiti Game Reserve Reserve

Cameron Pearce, Ongava Game Reserve in Namibia

Nico Brits, Bushwise Trainer at our Mahlahla campus

Solomon Ndlovu, Singita in the Kruger National Park

Ruvan Grobler, Lion Sands in the Sabi Sabi Game Reserve

Bushwise staff with the five finalists for Safari Guide of the Year 2022

The week started with contestants, sponsors, judges and media arriving at our Kempiana campus at the Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC). Bushwise was proud to host this prestigious event back in the home of field guiding, the Greater Kruger National Park. This was also an excellent opportunity for us to show off our newest campus, where we train field guides in collaboration with SAWC .

This was the 11th annual SGOTY, an event that was started in 2011 by Mike Karontonis in collaboration with the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA). Guests, judges, sponsors and other leaders in the safari industry were present to cheer the competitors on, while waiting with bated breath to see who would come out the winner overall, and in the individual categories. 

Shown here, all five finalists for Safari Guide of the Year 2022. Throughout the week, one thing was very clear: this wasn’t just a competition, it was also a show of camaraderie between the finalists. 

One thing that stood out for all attendees of this event: it wasn’t just about the competition, it was equally about the camaraderie and friendship shown between the finalists. 

Whenever there was a moment to relax between activities, you could find the five contenders huddled in a circle, laughing and swapping stories. Their shared passion for the bush, love of wildlife, and years of experience brought them close together throughout the week. 

A game drive vehicle full of guests at the Safari Guide of the Year competition, guided by Solomon Ndlovu.

But still – someone had to win! Without further ado, we present the overall winner of Safari Guide of the Year 2022: Cameron Pearce. Cameron was the overall winner of Safari Guide of the Year 2022. He also won in the categories of Guided Walk, Track and Sign, Birding and Storytelling. 

Cameron Pearce, winner of the overall Safari Guide of the Year 2022 award. He also won best Guided Walk, Track & Sign, Birding, and Storytelling categories.

Nico Brits won the categories of Hospitality and Best on Camera. Throughout the week, Nico paid close attention to every guests’ needs, taking utmost care to ensure that each person felt welcome and cared for. When he was interviewed live on WildEarth, he did an excellent job of engaging with and entertaining the audience!

Nico Brits, Bushwise Trainer and winner of Best on Camera Presence and Best in Hospitality for Safari Guide of the Year 2022

Ruvan Grobler won the Photography category. During his evaluation drive, he did an incredible job of angling the vehicle for photos, stopping smoothly and exceeding many other requirements for a photographic safari. 

Ruvan Grobler took home the award for Best Photographic Safari guide.

Solomon Ndlovu took the award for Advanced Rifle Handling. His shooting was quite impressive – hitting an exact spot multiple times on one target. When he would finish an exercise, the excitement in the crowd was palpable. 

Solomon Ndlovu won Best in Advanced Rifle Handling.

Liam Henderson took home the best in Game Drive category. Liam navigated the reserve professionally, incorporating many elements of the ecosystem into his discussions,  interpreting animal behaviour and sharing excellent sightings with his guests.

Liam Henderson scored the best in the Game Drive category. 

The wildlife played ball with us this week with some truly incredible sightings. When it came to interpreting animal behaviour, the finalists had more than enough opportunity to show off their knowledge!

A male lion pauses to scent-mark a tree. This lion was displaying territorial behaviour during one of the game drives. 

On one game drive, we were even treated to double male lion sightings. But it wasn’t just about the big game – birdlife was also plentiful. On the guided walks, the finalists were also able to discuss some really interesting animal activity, such as an aardvark excavation.

Bushwise’s Darryn Murray, Sharin Myburgh, and Francois Theron with Solomon Ndlovu at the Safari Guide of the Year competition. 

The final evening of the event was a bittersweet moment, as guests, judges, sponsors and finalists alike had made lifelong friendships throughout the week. As the countdown to next year’s event begins, we at Bushwise would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in Safari Guide of the Year 2022. 

Sophie Niemman and Eugene Relling of Bushwise with the five finalists, as well as WildEarth host Steve Faulconbridge and Scott Yammin of the Southern African Wildlife College.

To Michelle du Plessis and everyone at FGASA, Mike Karontonis, the SAWC, WildEarth, RuggedWear, Sapmok, CanonRSA, AccidentAngels, Kruger2Canyon, and all individual sponsors who joined us: thank you for making SGOTY 2022 so memorable. 

A special thank you as well to the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Mr Fish Mahlalela, who honoured us with his presence at this significant event. You can watch the SGOTY 2022 awards ceremony on the WildEarth YouTube channel .

There are big and exciting things happening at Bushwise. To keep up with the excitement, follow us on Instagram , Facebook , TikTok , and YouTube .

BY: Annie DuPre, photography by Louise Pavid

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Introducing the Safari Guide of the Year 2019

Riaan Fourie, Safari Guide of the Year 2019

Riaan Fourie has been awarded the coveted and prestigious title ‘Safari Guide of the Year 2019’ after a tough week of scrutiny from mentors and intense but convivial competition amongst the five chosen finalists .

The five contestants, during the tracks and signs tests © Simon Espley

VIDEO: The winner is revealed

#SGOTY2019: The winner is revealed Huge congratulations to Riaan Fourie who is the winner of Safari Guide of the Year 2019. Well done to all the finalists for their professionalism and courage. It was an exceptional competition! This competition is powered by FGASA, NJ MORE Field Guide College and Africa Direct. #SGOTY2019 #SAFARIGUIDEOFTHEYEAR#NJMOREFIELDGUIDECOLLEGE#FGASA #NJMORE #AFRICADIRECT #WILDEARTHTV #BUSHTECH#SAPMOK #KHAKIFEVER #GETAWAYMAG #PARKTOWNSTORES#AFRICAGEOGRAPHIC #TRAVELANDTHINGS Gepostet von The Field Guides Association of Southern Africa am Donnerstag, 27. Juni 2019

This prestigious title is awarded every year by the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA), and represents a serious feather in the cap and career highlight for the winner.

The judges include some of the region’s most experienced and respected guides: James Steyn, Juan Pinto, Brian Serrao, Quinton Coetzee and Mike Karantonis.

Riaan Fourie studies a particularly difficult spoor identification test, watched by judges James Steyn (left) and Juan Pinto © Simon Espley

The week of judging was held at the NJ MORE Field Guide College , in the Marataba section of the greater Marakele National Park, and the contestants were put through their paces by the judges during guided walks and game drives where they were tested on track and sign identification, bird identification, rifle handling and shooting and their storytelling skills.

The Marataba section of the greater Marakele National Park © Simon Espley

The event was broadcast live by WildEarth TV , and here are some of their short video clips:

1. Bird identification

The first challenge of #SGOTY2019 is all about the birds! The finalists identify birds of Southern Africa by Sight and Sound. NJ MORE Field Guide CollegeRoyal MalewaneSingitaSamara Private Game ReserveKapama Private Game ReserveTanda Tula#SGOTY2019#SAFARIGUIDEOFTHEYEAR#NJMOREFIELDGUIDECOLLEGE#FGASA #NJMORE #AFRICADIRECT #WILDEARTHTV #BUSHTECH #SAPMOK #KHAKIFEVER #GETAWAYMAG #KRUGER2CANYON #PARKTOWNSTORES #AFRICAGEOGRAPHIC #TRAVELANDTHINGS #FITCHANDLEEDS #JORDANWINES #PAINTEDWOLFWINES #EMPOWERAFRICA Gepostet von The Field Guides Association of Southern Africa am Montag, 24. Juni 2019

2. Shooting

#SGOTY2019: Shooting Assessment The finalists shot the lights out with their shooting assesements! #SGOTY2019 #SAFARIGUIDEOFTHEYEAR#NJMOREFIELDGUIDECOLLEGE#FGASA #NJMORE #AFRICADIRECT #WILDEARTHTV #BUSHTECH #SAPMOK #KHAKIFEVER #GETAWAYMAG #PARKTOWNSTORES #AFRICAGEOGRAPHIC #TRAVELANDTHINGS Gepostet von The Field Guides Association of Southern Africa am Donnerstag, 27. Juni 2019

3. Tracks and signs

#SGOTY2019: Tracks and signs The bush newspaper puts the finalists to the test!This competition is powered by FGASA, NJ MORE Field Guide College and Africa Direct. #SGOTY2019 #SAFARIGUIDEOFTHEYEAR#NJMOREFIELDGUIDECOLLEGE#FGASA #NJMORE #AFRICADIRECT #WILDEARTHTV #BUSHTECH#SAPMOK #KHAKIFEVER #GETAWAYMAG #PARKTOWNSTORES#AFRICAGEOGRAPHIC #TRAVELANDTHINGS Gepostet von The Field Guides Association of Southern Africa am Donnerstag, 27. Juni 2019

4. Game drive and bushwalk

#SGOTY2019: Rassie and Antony Rassie Jacobs and Antony Collett take us on an exciting morning adventure in the bush for #SGOTY2019 This competition is powered by FGASA, NJ MORE Field Guide College and Africa Direct. #SGOTY2019 #SAFARIGUIDEOFTHEYEAR#NJMOREFIELDGUIDECOLLEGE#FGASA #NJMORE #AFRICADIRECT #WILDEARTHTV #BUSHTECH#SAPMOK #KHAKIFEVER #GETAWAYMAG #PARKTOWNSTORES#AFRICAGEOGRAPHIC #TRAVELANDTHINGS Gepostet von The Field Guides Association of Southern Africa am Mittwoch, 26. Juni 2019

5. Storytelling

#SGOTY2019 : Storytelling Storytelling was an important part of the finalists journey at safari guide of the year. #SGOTY2019 #SAFARIGUIDEOFTHEYEAR#NJMOREFIELDGUIDECOLLEGE#FGASA #NJMORE #AFRICADIRECT #WILDEARTHTV #BUSHTECH #SAPMOK #KHAKIFEVER #GETAWAYMAG #PARKTOWNSTORES #AFRICAGEOGRAPHIC #TRAVELANDTHINGS Gepostet von The Field Guides Association of Southern Africa am Donnerstag, 27. Juni 2019

safari guide of the year

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About Safari Guide of the Year

What is safari guide of the year about.

Safari Guide of the Year (SGOTY) is the most highly anticipated annual event of the safari guiding and ecotourism industries. The event was founded in 2011 when Mike Karantonis (founder of Africa Direct ) and current Tintswalo Group Head Guide approached the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) with the idea of hosting a competition with the specific aim of recognising and celebrating field guides across southern Africa.

The Safari Guide of the Year competition honours the hard work, sacrifice, training, skills development, knowledge, and expertise field guides across southern Africa need to deliver an ethical, immersive, engaging, and informative safari experience to guests from all over the world. The career path of a field guide is more than just a job, it is a lifestyle the requires passion and commitment not only to the natural world, but also to hosting and hospitality.

For a guide to be nominated they need to have a minimum of five years experience guiding, must have the Nature Site Guide (NQF4) qualification, must be a paid-up member of FGASA, must have the Trails Guide (NQF4) qualification and must currently be working as a field guide at a lodge, field guide training delivery partner or as a freelance guide. Once the nomination period is complete, the Director of FGASA, Michelle du Plessis and the co-founder of SGOTY Mike Karantonis interview each nominee. Only five may be selected and deciding who those individuals are is a challenging task. 

For a long time, field guiding was never considered a ‘real’ career path. The skills, qualifications and knowledge needed to become a guide were not valued in the larger scope of post-school education. Field guiding was often thought of as a ‘fallback’ job or something to keep busy with until deciding on a ‘real’ job. Safari Guide of the Year has slowly been changing this misconception about field guiding by celebrating guides who have achieved highly in their careers, pushed their theoretical knowledge and who have spent years in the wild honing their practical skills.  

The event is a competition that invites the top five guides from around southern Africa to compete in a series of safari-related events over a week. These top five guides need to impress a panel of highly experienced and expert judges who then score and decide who is crowned Safari Guide of the Year. The week is filled with delight and camaraderie as guides and guests from all over the world gather to participate in the eight events that determine who Safari Guide of the Year will be. 

The events themselves have been specifically chosen to test the top five finalists on a variety of skills, these events are: 

   • Game drive 

   • Bushwalk 

   • Guided photographic experience 

   • Bird slide and sound 

   • Track and sign 

   • Advanced Rifle Handling 

   • Storytelling 

   • Hosting and hospitality 

 For each event, an expert judge defined the criteria for scoring; at the end of the week, the scores are tallied, and winners for each event as well as an overall winner is chosen. The awards evening is a night filled with celebration and glamour as the usually khaki-clad bush people don their finest and wait in anticipation for the winners to be announced.  

The importance of Safari Guide of the Year lies in showcasing the skills of guides already in the industry, but it also inspires future guides to apply themselves and become the best guide they can be. The event not only celebrates guides but brings together an industry of people all committed to celebrating the professionalism and skills required for success.

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safari guide of the year

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First woman to win safari guide of the year: kimberlee le hanie.

safari guide of the year

On 7 June, Kimberlee Le Hanie from Lion Sands made history as the first woman to win Safari Guide of the Year in the history of the competition.

safari guide of the year

Kimberlee has been guiding for nearly six years since qualifying as a guide through the MORE Field Guide College in 2017. Kimberlee now guides at Lion Sands Private Game Reserve in Greater Kruger. Picture: Armadillo Media

An initiative of the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA), the competition highlights the best in the guiding industry each year, by putting Southern African guides through a series of tough events to test critical guiding skills.

Over the past six days, five contestants from game reserves across South Africa have been put through their paces in numerous challenging events.

Hosted by Kapama Private Game Reserve , this year’s Safari Guide of the Year saw the contestants, judges, media and sponsors wined, dined and hosted in style.

Judged by the industry’s most esteemed guides and experts, Pioneer Moyo from Bushwise, Jan Dykema from Shamwari, Warren Deyzel from Imbali Safari Lodge, Ruan Coetzee from Kapama and an invitational candidate, Francois du Plessis from N/a’an ku sê Collection in Namibia joined Kimberlee in the competition to be named 2023’s Safari Guide of the Year.

safari guide of the year

The contestants were dressed by Ruggedwear, a generous sponsor of the competition and leading safari outfitter in South Africa. Picture: Armadillo Media

The first event was track and sign, where the finalists were tested on their abilities to identify spoor and other signs of the bush, from caterpillar trails to dung to bird and insect tracks. Pioneer took first prize in this event, while Kimberlee was the runner-up.

The finalists were all tested on their bird identification skills in a slide and calls test, with fifty images and fifty calls to identify. Kimberlee scored the highest in the birding event, followed by Pioneer.

safari guide of the year

Tricky tracks included squirrel spoor, dung beetle tracks and a track left by hundreds of processionary caterpillars. Picture: Armadillo Media

Each of the finalists was then judged on their individual abilities to lead a guided walk, guide a photographic drive and guide a regular game drive, some of the most important skills to have as a safari guide.

safari guide of the year

They were assessed on everything from their awareness of their environment, to their interaction with their guests, their knowledge out in the bush and their hosting and hospitality skills. On the photographic drive, they had to take light and angles into consideration and position the vehicle to give photographers the best chance at getting the shots they needed, all the while reading and anticipating animal behaviour.

safari guide of the year

Sponsored by Canon, the photographic event saw contestants having to anticipate and deliver good photographic opportunities for their guests in the back. Picture: Armadillo Media

Ruan Cotzee, with home-ground advantage, took first prize for the guided walk, followed by Jan Dykema. Warren Deyzel scored highest for the guided photographic drive, followed by Ruan, while Kimberlee scored highest for the game drive category followed by Warren.

safari guide of the year

On Kimberlee’s drive, she was able to deliver a leopard sighting which made for happy guests. Picture: Armadillo Media

In the evenings, the finalists’ skills were put to the test around the campfire as they each had a night to captivate their guests with a story. Some hilarious and heartwarming tales were shared around campfires within Kapama River Lodge’s various dining areas, including an exclusive dinner out in the bush, but ultimately Kimberlee’s story won her first prize, followed by Jan.

safari guide of the year

Fireside storytelling at Kapama was a highlight each night, with finalists regaling guests and judges with their most humorous and heartwarming stories from guiding in the bush. Picture: Armadillo Media

On the final day of the competition, the finalists’ advanced rifle-handling skills were put to the test, with Jan taking first prize and Kimberlee taking second.

Throughout the week, the finalists’ hosting and hospitality skills were observed. It’s one of the most important, yet underrated skills as a guide and extends far beyond the end-of-game-drive time. Ultimately, Jan won this category with Kimberlee coming in second.

Kimberlee’s accumulated scores made her the clear winner, and the FGASA team was thrilled to announce her as the first woman to ever win the competition.

safari guide of the year

‘Not only are you the first ever woman to win Safari Guide of the year but you truly showcased the essence of the competition, represented everything that it stands for and we could not be more pleased to hand the title to such a beautiful soul. You truly deserve this accolade and we hope that this will inspire you to continually develop, push the boundaries of guiding excellence and be an inspiration to all women and guides in the safari tourism industry. Keep being exactly who you are, that is what makes you one of a kind and that is exactly what the winner of Safari Guide of the Year should be!’ said Michelle Du Plessis, managing director of FGASA.

Birding event: Canon Binoculars

Hospitality event: R5 000 cash prize

Game drive event: R8 000 from FreeGo Canvas

Bush walk event: R8 000 from Sapmok

Storytelling event: Book selection plus R5 000 from Kruger2Canyon News

Track and sign event: R8 000 from FGASA

Advanced rifle handling event: R8 000 from Ruggedwear

Photographic experience event: Camera and lens to the value of R40 000

Overall runner-up: R15 000 from WISE (Women in Safari Excellence) received by Jan Dykema.

Winner: R25 000 from Canon , a $1000 cash prize, and a two-night stay at Ongava in Namibia, received by Kimberlee. She also gets to choose a previously disadvantaged candidate to go on a three-month guiding course at the NJ More College Marataba, to the value of R88 000.

Photography and videography by Armadillo Media

ALSO READ: Lone buffalo outsmart entire lion pride in Kruger National Park

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Safari Guide of the Year 2022

Brought to you by .

On July 2nd 2022 WildEarth will be broadcasting The Safari Guide of the Year award ceremony LIVE onto WildEarth from Bushwise Wildlife College.

Sponsored by Canon, this will feel like the Oscars of safari guiding. Steven Faulconbridge will be the host and prestigious people from the conservation and hospitality industry will be awarding the prizes.

What is Safari Guide of the Year?

A guide is critically important to a traveller’s experience when on holiday in south africa. a personable and informed guide can make or break the experience for so many. however a field guides career is not perceived by the world as a “serious” career and is largely considered as a fun job with a short lifespan..

For some however, this is their life. Not enough credit is given to the professionals that have constantly experienced life-changing ordeals in a dangerous environment.

Safari Guide of the Year is an annual event which creates awareness for these men and women who dedicate their lives to tourism and wildlife. Five expert guides are pitted against each other in skills such as bush driving, shooting, tracking, birding and photography.

Hang out with Steve Faulconbridge!

30th june and 1st july.

Steve Faulconbridge is inviting you to his special hang out at 7pm Central African Time from the Safari Guide of the Year Event which he is hosting. He will be chatting to some of the Safari Guide competitors and also the judges and will be handing out a fabulous prize for a lucky winner. You must be logged in to watch and join in.

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safari guide of the year

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  • Safari Guide of the Year

Safari Guide of the Year, 2021…The judging panel.

safari guide of the year

On the 2nd of July, Riaan gets to hand over the SGOTY trophy after being both the ‘official’ 2019 winner and, by ‘default’, the 2020 winner thanks to COVID-19 lockdown protocols…

safari guide of the year

And the 10th Anniversary celebrations get to take place…a year later than planned. Who are the judges for this splendid event?

In no particular order, they are…

safari guide of the year

Content producer for SGOTY 2021, David Batzofin, sat down with Mike Karantonis, Co-Owner at Africa Direct and founder of Safari Guide of the Year, to get his thoughts on the 10th Anniversary event.

safari guide of the year

David Batzofin, a content producer for SGOTY, got to chat with Alan Yeowart who joins the 2021 Safari Guide of the Year judging panel for the first time.

D.B: This is your first time as a SGOTY judge, what responsibility do you feel that it places on you?

A.Y: I think my main responsibility in my role as a member of this panel is to remain objective and offer each candidate an equivalent measure of focus, enthusiasm, and attention. I believe it is important that we observe the guides in a manner that is supportive and calming, as it is a process where nerves tend to dull skills, and I have seen many wonderful guides deliver moderate performances when they have audiences that project superiority and disinterest.

D.B: The competition was delayed for a year by COVID-19, do you feel that this will be an advantage?

A.Y: Most certainly. I relish the opportunity to observe how these guides have paid attention to the learning opportunities that this global pandemic has provided us with. I feel that, along with its devastating socio and economic implications, COVID-19 has offered the guiding fraternity a very long-overdue opportunity to take stock of the way that we have historically looked at and delivered safari experiences. It had become a “hamster-on-the-wheel” exercise, and the measurements of a “good guided experience” were becoming very generic.

D.B: What will you be looking for that will separate the contestants from each other?

A.Y: Creativity, tangible Interest, and of course humility. I am very focused on the Style and Technique used by guides. The skills they employ that expose the real depth and significance of Wilderness or observing wildlife. I will be looking closely at how each guide can deliver unique experiences. The guide that can make me think and reflect on their delivery will feature highly in my scoring.

D.B: What advice can you give the nominees?

A.Y: My advice would be simply to see this as an opportunity to spend time with other skilled guides for a few precious days. Don’t try to “win it”. Placing too much emphasis on “being the best” will elevate your levels of nervousness. It will also skew your perception of what this is all about. Nobody is going to regard you as “The best guide in South Africa” based on the outcome of a few drives or walks in the context of this exercise. You may be regarded as having done the best (or not done the best) in a few categories, but the real value is in what learnings you can take away with you.

D.B: There is a new hospitality section to the competition this year. What will you be looking for here? Given that the guides are not necessarily chefs or cooks?

safari guide of the year

DB: The competition was delayed for a year by COVID-19, do you feel that this will be an advantage? A.C: Yes, this period has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. to get prepared! I totally believe that this should be an advantage as field guides should have utilized this downtime, having little to no guests, to spend more time in the field and increase their knowledge base, research, sharpen skills and work on their weaknesses. So I would hope that the candidates should arrive at the completion better prepared than one year ago and achieve well in the competition.

DB: What will you be looking for that will separate the contestants from each other?

A.C: Obviously a broad knowledge base and strong skills set across ALL the categories. A safari guide that has exceptional professional conduct is also well presented and charismatic, a leader and a team player. I will be looking for someone who is an ambassador for our field guiding industry with great personal skills, hospitality, and originality.

DB: What advice can you give the nominees?

A.C: Before you arrive do your research, understand what each category entails so there are no surprises- Know the area, particularly if you have never worked in the Waterberg before. Let me tell you this, Marataba will have big surprises in store for you! Keep your head and keep focused. Don’t be distracted too much by the joll of being involved in the best event of the guiding industry. The winner is the best overall categories so identify your weaknesses. You know what they are. If it’s bird calls practice, practice, practice. If it’s shooting get to the shooting range. With the storytelling make sure it’s your own story, a personal experience, and ideally safari related – one that you might tell a guest about a personal past experience. Believe in yourself and your own abilities. To have come this far is a huge accolade.

DB: There is a new hospitality section to the competition this year. What will you be looking for here? Given that the guides are not necessarily chefs or cooks?

A.C: Field guiding is about people and being the ultimate host. A large part of the safari experience for guests is hospitality. This is the fairy dust on top of the wildlife sightings that makes the memories magical. For many guests, a safari is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and a dream made true! Knowing your cuisine and being well versed in South African wines and the pairing of wines is a huge advantage. Making a great gin and tonic is key essential! Knowing your etiquette and how to make conversation over the dinner table and tell a great story. No excuse, be the complete guide! Presentation is key. Knowing how to set up a magical moment for sundowners in the bush and the little touches are what it’s about for a guest’s experience. Never lose your enthusiasm or forget that this may be the first time they have seen a lion in the wilderness or tasted biltong!

DB: What words of wisdom can you offer to the overall winner?

A.C: Punch the air! Be proud of your achievement, relish your victory and enjoy the evening! Give back to our industry and use your accolade to raise the profile of the competition even higher for eco-tourism & our wildlife conservation.

safari guide of the year

The NJ More Field Guide College will once again play host to the finalists, the judging panel as well as the media contingent. The camp is set in the stunning Waterberg region and makes it a level playing ground for all the nominees this year.

And, in no particular order, these are the finalists…

safari guide of the year

Safari Guide of the Year 2021, Finalist Togara Charingira : TJ , a guide at Royal Madikwe Safari Lodge, has been guiding for 10 years. He trained with various people and training providers, namely Nightjar, Lowveld Trails Company, African Bush Company, Beat about the Bush, and Cameron Pierce.

safari guide of the year

Safari Guide of the Year 2021, Finalist Wayne Howarth. Wayne, a guide at Kariega Game Reserve, has been guiding for 11 years.

safari guide of the year

Safari Guide of the Year 2021, Finalist Mike Medlinger. Mike is a guide at More Family Collection and has been guiding for 16 years.

safari guide of the year

Safari Guide of the Year 2021, Finalist Civilized Ngwenya. Civilized is a guide at Tanda Tula, has been guiding for 12 years.

safari guide of the year

Safari Guide of the Year 2021, Finalist Shaun D’Araujo.   Shaun, a guide at Londolozi, started out as an apprentice guide and student 16 years ago in the Sabi Sands but has been actively guiding full time for the past seven years. Shaun completed a Diploma in Nature Guiding through Damelin and EcoTraining in 2007 and completed the Londolozi guide training course in 2015.

safari guide of the year

Wishing all the finalists the best of luck for the upcoming event. May each of you be humble in your approach, generous with your knowledge, and build bonds over the course of the competition that will last for many years to come…

safari guide of the year

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James Tyrrell – Safari Guide of the Year

Ask any traveller who has returned from a safari…. it is the guide and his tracker who truly defines and provides a memorable experience. Africa acknowledges this and is proud to have some excellent guides in our midst.

We are thrilled to celebrate James Tyrrell, winner of the 2018 Safari Guide of the Year competition who continues to demonstrate passion before duty! Join in our little fanfare for this great friend of ours and fabulous private guide who has shown great ability, but more so adoration and respect for the great African bush. This competition is a brilliant way to inspire guides to excel and recognises and rewards those who have set themselves apart from the rest. This isn’t the first time a Londolozi guide has won this incredible award and definitely not the last…

safari guide of the year

Unlike the insurmountable subjective “best of” lists, it is nice to know who is judging and based on what criteria. Through a process of elimination, Africa Direct in association with FGASA have assessed guides on numerous aspects such as tracking, game drives, guided walks, shooting, birding, story-telling and one of James’ finest achievements – photography.

There is much more to an African safari than sitting in the back of a vehicle and passively watching the scenery and wildlife pass you by. The quality of your guide can be a determining factor and it takes a passionate and dedicated one to be able to tailor experiences to suit different guests. Tyrrell not only shows but teaches too – about safety, animal spotting, birds, knowledge of the wilderness and people. He shares his passions and invokes them in others, transforming a typical safari into an extra-ordinary one.

safari guide of the year

While Tyrrell is fuelled simply by his love for what he does, let us boast about some of his accolades for him!

safari guide of the year

Evolved game guide turned photographer and filmmaker, Tyrrell is one of the most grounded and well-rounded guys out there. Besides his accumulated years of experience and repeated emphasis on his passion, we can truly say he is living his dream!

safari guide of the year

At an age where most kids are trying to correctly name colours and objects, Tyrrell was watching the documentary film ‘The Silent Hunter’ by co-founder of Londolozi, John Varty. Tyrrell’s film review was that Londolozi was the only place he would want to work at as a ranger. All kids have childhood dreams, Tyrrell saw his through!

safari guide of the year

James of all trades, master of quite a few.

Arriving at Londolozi, Tyrrell had minimal experience behind the lens of a camera. But with persistence, effort and a creative eye he now documents and shares stories of Londolozi and takes audiences on a visual journey from the comfort of their couch so that they may live vicariously through his South African perspective of the wilderness. Now everyone can share in and connect with the wonders of the bush!

safari guide of the year

James has been interested in photography for years, but it was only after he moved to the bush that he began pursuing it professionally. These environments rich with photographic opportunities allowed him to develop his skillsand he now works as a specialist photographic guide as well.

safari guide of the year

While most of us agree that Tyrrell should be in front of the camera once in a while, with that crooked smile and rugged beard under his brimmed hat, his passion and skill (not forgetting his natural ability to write) beckons him to be behind screens.

Good luck James with all future endeavours. We know you will make a success of whatever you pursue and look forward to many more wonderful photos and articles from you. To get in touch with James Tyrrell or view more of his awesome photographs, visit his Instagram  account.

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Londolozi Family

Safari Guide of the Year

safari guide of the year

Tom Imrie has – and is – a gentle soul. A warm, loving, paternal member of the Londolozi ranging team and family, Tom is one of the most humble people I have ever met. Since he would never tell you himself that last week he won the prestigious Safari Guide of the Year competition, I am here to do it for him.

If I’m honest, I didn’t really know what to pen when writing this, as it was initially meant to simply be a tribute to Tom and an announcement of his achievement, but I felt it was an opportunity to say more than that about a man who has been and will continue to be an inspiration to so many.

I’ll say right from the start that nothing I can say will do justice to the type of man Tom is. The many guests that have been introduced to the wonders of the African bush by being in his vehicle or joining him on a walk through the marula crests of Londolozi can attest to the fact that Tom does not simply show you the bush. He takes you on the experience of a lifetime.

Having a laugh while filming the Londolozi Valentine's Day video of 2010.

Having a laugh while filming the Londolozi Valentine’s Day video of 2010.

The top guides in the industry are well-rounded individuals. This is not an allusion to Tom’s paunch, but to the versatility these men and women must display in order to reach the heights of their profession.

The Safari Guide of the Year competition reflected this in the various categories that the competitors were assessed under; Birding, photography, tracking, shooting, story-telling, game drive and guided walk. Whilst all categories are important as a guide, ask any ranger worth their salt and they will vehemently agree that the most critical in conducting a meaningful and memorable guest experience are the last three; story-telling, game drive and guided walk. These basically define the role of a guide. Tom walked away with top honours in all three categories (also placing second in the birding, despite claiming to not be an avid birder!) and won the overall competition as a result. After being drenched with champagne and cheered loudly by the rest of the staff as he arrived back at Londolozi, not once has he mentioned the competition himself. His humility knows no bounds, and he becomes almost a shade embarrassed if you mention it to him. Tom is not in it for the accolades; he is fuelled simply by a deep love of what he does.

It's a laugh-a-minute when Tom's around.

It’s a laugh-a-minute when Tom’s around.

Let me tell you a little more about what this quiet, unassuming man is like.

Tom can be found on an evening in Londolozi sharing a quiet beer in the staff village with close friend and tracker Jeremiah Hambana. Tom and Jerry (yes, we find it funny too) are about as good a combination of ranger and tracker as one can ask for as a guest at Londolozi. Their wisdom, both of the bush and of the world at large, are unsurpassed. Tom’s incredible breadth of knowledge allied with Jerry’s traditional Shangaan wisdom and insight provide a wonderful blend of interpretations and descriptions of the natural world around them. I shouldn’t admit this, but I often find myself deliberately not saying much when in the same sighting as Tom’s vehicle, simply so I can listen to his take on what is happening in front of us. If Tom thinks the leopard is doing such-and-such a thing for such-and-such a reason, that’s good enough for me!

Tom and his wife Kate – Londolozi’s current head ranger – live on site at the lodge with their two children, Thomas and Emma. They came to the bush for a change from city life a decade ago, and have embraced Africa’s wilderness and everything it stands for with open hearts. Their door is always open to any of the staff at any time, for whatever the reason, and it is largely through their leadership and the example they set that the Londolozi ranging team is the tight-knit unit that it is.

Tom with his kids Thomas and Emma.

Tom with his kids Thomas and Emma.

Tommo, you are an inspiration to all of us at Londolozi. Not just as a ranger but as a human being. Your good humour, kind heart and ever-present voice of reason are appreciated far more than is ever said by everyone you come into contact with. It is truly an honour to have learnt so much from you over these past few years.

It gives me the greatest pleasure to congratulate you, my colleague but more importantly my friend, on your outstanding achievement.

Tom receiving his trophy from head of FGASA Gerald Hinde (pictured right) and safari guide Mike Karantonis

Tom receiving his Africa Direct/FGASA Safari Guide of the Year trophy from Head of FGASA Grant Hine (pictured right) and Africa Direct Owner & Specialist Guide, Mike Karantonis (pictured left)

Tom Imrie, the Africa Direct/FGASA Safari guide of the year.

Written by James Tyrrell

Filed under Londolozi Family

safari guide of the year

About the Author

safari guide of the year

James Tyrrell

James had hardly touched a camera when he came to Londolozi, but his writing skills that complemented his Honours degree in Zoology meant that he was quickly snapped up by the Londolozi blog team. An environment rich in photographers helped him develop the ...

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safari guide of the year

Congratulations Tomo. This is well deserved recognition of your dedication in guiding. You were a crucial part of my training and will be for many others to come. Congratulations – honored to have worked with you!

safari guide of the year

Well done Tom. From what I have heard, this is well-deserved 🙂

safari guide of the year

James once again you have written an excellent piece. You have captured the essence of Tom beautifully. From his very proud wife Kate.

safari guide of the year

Dear Tom YOU HAVE HONOURED YOUR LONDOLOZI FAMILY WITH THIS FINE ACHIEVEMENT CONGRATULATIONS !!!!!! WE ENDORSE ALL AND MORE THAT JAMES HAS WRITTEN ABOUT YOU!! WE ARE SO BLESSED TO HAVE YOU, KATE, YOUR BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN AND YOUR AMAZING MOTHER AS PART OF OUR EXTENDED FAMILY LONG MAY WE CONTINUE TO LIVE AND WORK TOGETHER AS YOU BUILD AN ENDURING LEGACY OF LOVE AND COMITTMENT TO A PURPOSE

IN APPRECIATION

SHAN AND DAVE VARTY

Congratulations Tom – a great achievement and very well deserved!

Huge congratulations Tom, very well done and deserved!

Congrats Tom. An inspiring and moving article by James, describing an inspiring man and leader. I am now regretful that I missed an opportunity to join you on drive. Hopefully there is still a chance. It is really amazing to see you raising your family in that special place. Warm regards from the Ross family.

So well deserved and true in every way. Congratulations Tom! We often think of you and your beautiful family and sending much love. Well done!

We were so lucky to have had Tom and Jerry as our team this past August. They made our trip so much more than we had ever imagined it could be. Congratulations on a well-deserved honor. Can’t wait to come back.

safari guide of the year

Wow-well done. Having been to Africa many times, it is amazing how much a good guide can add to what for many is the experience of a lifetime- on the other hand it is also amazing how much guides have to put up with from the …

Tom you are an incredible man. I so enjoyed the time we spent together in the bush. You were and still are a great inspiration to me , and many other guides. I am very proud of you. Well done. Your friend- Adam

Congratulations! Hurrah

Congratulations Tom! What a honor! Because of you, Larry and I long to be back in the bush again with you and Jerry. We think of you often and look forward to coming back to our “home” again soon. Be well.

Congratulations Tom on this award.

Massive congratulations to you!! You are much loved, admired and respected. Thank you for all the memories so far! Still waiting to hear that story!

Fantastic news “Congrats Tom” very well deserved, we always love turning up at a sighting and hear your story’s, as we said to you last time it takes us back to our childhood and the programme Jackanory, such great story telling from a master, we always believe everything you tell us!

What a fantastic honour Tom – well deserved! Nice job James on a great tribute!

Dear Tom, Kate and children, Since the first time that we were privileged to have the Disney duo as our Londolozi caretakers almost a decade ago, we realised that these fantastic trips to the African bush were very special for many reasons, but especially because of Tom and Jerry. After more than 10 visits, we felt like, and were treated like royal family, and our love for nature as presented by the Londolozi team grew with every visit! Tom always focusses on his support team as the important elements in the success of the total experience at Londo’s, including the “Notting’s female”, and his two lovely children! Jerry is always quietly being consulted, and the guests are drawn into the team by amazing interaction that makes you feel like you actually belong there! Tom says:” people energises me” , but I think that LIFE energises him! Congrats with your wonderful achievement! You (and your team) fully deserve this accolade! Looking forward to our next visit to the land of Varty/Taylor! Warm regards from us all, including Oupa and Ouma! Gerrit and family van Wageningen

safari guide of the year

Congratulations to Tom. I’m so glad that its him. I wish him the best of luck, a well deserved honour.

Kind regards Wendy

Well done again Thomas! Couldn’t have been won by a more deserving person!

Tom! A big congrats to you. Was so humbled to have the opportunity to work with a person such as yourself! You taught me so much about life and the world around us and always made work an absolute pleasure. I will be celebrating with a Black Label tonight for you.

Cheers, Mark

well done Big Tom!! love Kate and Maya

Thomas you are such a legend of a guy and a guide, I am so proud of you, flying the Londolozi Flag high! A much deserved honour for an incredible bush master, can’t wait to have that next celebratory beer. Thank you for all that I have learned from you and the great times we have shared, which I miss dearly.

Hello Tom and Kate you must be delighted….. we are! I cant recall when we first met but I guess it was about 1997. Your warm greeting and undivided attention was amazing and you were not even our ranger on that visit. Since then no visit to Londos has been complete without a good chat with you Tom. One highlight you shared with us was the stunning viewing of Saturn through your electronic telescope. That was a real treat. When I read the news of your award a few days ago on Twitter it was such a cool feeling knowing that someone who truly excels received deserving recognition. Bravo Bravo Bravo Tom See you soon Trevor and Colleen

Tom this makes me SO proud. There is a special, very unique quality in you that really makes you stand out. This award is so deserved.

A hole in one!!!! Well done. love from Yvette and Jos

Congratulations Tom and also all your support team especially Kate, Emma and Thomas. Very well deserved and your Southbroom friends are very proud. I’m sure we will see you at Christmas.

Love Liz and Jonathan

Congratulations Tom!

Well Done Tom!!! Recognition well deserved!!

Well deserved Tom!! You are the best!! As I compliment Tom I feel I say Jerry as well. We have just left our first safari Nov. 19th with Tom and Jerry As I saw the pair as Classy,knowledgable, funny, cohesive to perfection. The funny part… I still laugh at some of the things Tom said. Thanks to you both, we were privileged to ride with you for 4 days. Tom deserves the award from my experience…. If there are better, pigs are flying. One last note, Tom I hope you read this, Jerry drove us to the air strip on departure. What we got from this man in 15 minutes , what he spoke of, experience of life, perseverance, drive Honesty and class. The world would be a better place if all could experience understand what goes on here. A life changer for sure. Jerry stayed as the plane took off ,we looked out the window and saw him waving his arms goodbye. I knew then, see you again hopefully, sooner then later. Btw Tom and Jerry we did see owls ,the spotted eagle owl.. With 2 babies. In Cape Town …. So put the night light down.

Stay well all

Merry Christmas

Michael and Vanessa Green

A beautiful accolade to a truly deserving winner of this award. It was a huge honor to be amongst so many talented guides – Tom you really touched my soul with your story telling and your game drive (missed the walk). Your humble and gentle nature draws people to you and I am sure you will continue to inspire and warm the hearts of many, as you did mine. I hope one day soon to visit you at my favorite place, Londolozi.

We had the honor of being with Tom and Jerry in June and it was the greatest trip of our lives. It is no surprise to us that he has gotten this well deserved award. Congratulations from the Dog Show Nine Group We are so proud and happy for you!

Tom! Congratulations on this incredible accomplishment! I cannot express how incredibly happy I am to see you get some recognition for the incredible selflessness, hard work, perseverence, tenacity, humour, and generosity by which you choose to live your life, in personal circumstance and in your career! You continue to inspire me, as you have done since we met as young lads at the house! Take a moment to savour the achievement! A toast will be held in my house tonight for you and your family! Cheers and love to you, Kate, Thomas and Emma. Your friend for life, Richard

Congratulation Tom. Well deserved. Excellent blog, James. Can not wait until I return next year.

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safari guide of the year

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Safari Guide of the year - Kruger National Park Forum

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To become a safari guide/field guide in S. Africa means years of pratical application combined with numerous exams. Not an exaggeration to say anyone graduating has a massive knowledge of the bush and all its facets. Most guides end up working as rangers at pvt game lodges throughout RSA although many go to Botswana, E.Africa and Namibia as well. When selecting a lodge it's worth while checking if the rangers are members of this academy.

Tanya (a regular on TA) has written in the past re the annual competition for 'Safai Guide of the Year'. This yrs comp is only a month away and here is a video clip from the 2014 competition. You'll see Tanya a couple of times in the first 3 minutes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaIJLRGO_wE

safari guide of the year

Really nice video, thanks, I felt I was back in Africa for a little while today, hearing the baboons calling, the South African accent , I could almost smell the bush.....

Thank you for a wonderful video! It certainly brought my memories back...We had great game drives in April in Shishangeni - amazing totally new experience for me. Our guide, John, was phenomenal: I am sure we would have not been able to see so many animals without him. Over his long 30 years career as a ranger, these wild animals really became his friends. He loves them, he hears them, he talks to them, and it almost feels like they show up just to say hello to him (and to us😊).

safari guide of the year

Thank you for posting this, MGM. The standard of this year's competition is going to be exceptionally high. There have been excellent guides entering for this year and the 6 finalists will be announced by the end of this week. The finals will take place at Nkambeni Safari Camp in the Kruger National Park from 12 - 17 June 2015.

Going to be interesting to see who emerges as this year's winner!

Tanya * owner * Africa Direct

Who nominates the 6 finalists?

A great guide can 'make' a safari even when animal numbers are low. Acumen, wit, charm, and inate ability to keep the interest level of the group high. Job is very demanding and much tougher than most guests realise. Very long days and not highly paid.

To enter the competition, a guide who is in the employment of a safari company/lodge, would have to be nominated by the management of that lodge/safari company. Free lance guides would be nominated by people who are recognised and respected in the safari industry. The judging panel then chooses the top candidates to go through to the next level of judging, which is to be interviewed by a judging panel consisting of 3 of the competition's 7 judges. From these interviews, 6 finalists get chosen to attend the final 5 days in June.

Tanya... can you tell us at which lodges last yrs finalists work at? I'd pay extra for a world class guide/ranger.

MGM1954, these are the exceptional people who made it to the finals in the last few years. As well as the winners and runners up, I've also noted the winners of the birding category for those keen twitchers out there. The lodges noted are those where the guides were working at the time of the competition, although some may have since left, and I know a few have now set up there own private guiding companies.

2014 finalists:

Rudi van Niekerk – Kariega

Jabulani Silinda - Kariega

Juan Heyndrech - Pilansberg

Laetitia Cronje - Campfire safaris

Nick du Plessis (2014 Safari Guide of the Year winner) – Singita

Brett Horley (2014 Safari Guide of the Year runner up; birding category winner) - Brett Horley Safari's

Raymond Khosa – Sanparks

2013 finalists:

Mark Lautenbach - Phinda

Frank Bouwer - Gametrackers, Pilansberg

Fritz Breytenbach - Tintswalo, Manyeleti

Wiehan Stapelberg - Shumbalala, Thornybush

Nico Mulder (2013 Safari Guide of the Year runner up) - Singita

John Ditsele - Molori, Madikwe

Tom Imrie (2013 Safari Guide of the Year winner) - Londolozi

Richard de Gouveia -Sabi Sabi

Richard Sachse (birding category winner) - Simbambili

2012 finalists:

Byron Serrao - Londolozi

Carlien Esterhuizen - Madikwe

Devon Joel Myers - Phinda

Dylan Brandt (2012 Safari Guide of the Year runner up; birding category winner) - Singita

Jaap Van Dijk - SabiSabi

Johan Harding - &Beyond – Ngala

Robert Marc Lindsay Rea - Phinda

2011 finalists:

Deirdre Opie – Singita Lebombo

Gawie Grobler (birding category winner) – Lions Sands

Godfrey Mathebula - Motswari

Greg Lederle (2011 Safari Guide of the Year winner) – Molori Safari Lodge

Mark Shaw – AndBeyond

Mark Broodryk – Singita Bolders

Morne Hamlyn – Kings Camp

Richard Pearse – Pumba Game Lodge

The Facebook page for the competition is: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Safari-Guide-of-the-year/186390998080439

Big effort from bushmaniac. Many thanks. I see Singita gets plenty guides into finals along with Phinda not too far behind. Guides do move around but easy to contact lodge and inquire if guide still present.

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safari guide of the year

The 25 Best Safari Guides

By Graham Boynton

Image may contain Animal Wildlife Giraffe Mammal Nature Outdoors Savanna Field and Grassland

Safari guides hold it in their hands to make or break dreams, yet finding a good one can be vexing for the uninitiated. As a native Zimbabwean, Graham Boynton has spent decades on safari, and, most recently, 18 months traveling through the bush with guides in 6 countries to come up with this list of his 25 top safari guides. The guides listed with an asterisk (*) are affiliated with safari camps and may be requested as personal guides if you're staying at that particular camp (there's usually no additional fee involved, though generous tips would be expected). The other guides all work independently, and though some may be able to arrange your entire safari, it's usually simpler to book your trip—and the guide—through a tour operator (see "Your Guide to the Guides"). Rates below represent the cost per person per day.

15 Legendary Guides

1. *keraetswe bosigo (madala k).

Little Vumbura Camp, Botswana

Bosigo's nickname is Madala K, which, translated, means Old K. He arrived in the Okavango Delta by mokoro , a type of canoe, with his grandfather as a 15-year-old, and started out as a tracker for a hunting company before breaking away to guide photography safaris. Now in his mid-50s, he's acquired vast experience in the Okavango's Vumbura area. A Wilderness Safaris guide for almost 20 years, he is dry, laconic, and dead smart . He's also very involved in training the next generation of Botswanan guides ([email protected]; $450).

2. Gregg Hughes

SAFARI FOOTPRINTS, BOTSWANA

A biology graduate and former Wilderness Safaris guide, Hughes now freelances mainly in Botswana. He is a superb walking guide, a fact this author can testify to as he once saved my life and that of my daughter's when we were caught up in the aforementioned elephant stampede in the middle of an open plain. He combines academic expertise with immense charm , and although he often guides out of luxury camps such as Jao and Mombo, he enjoys trips closer to the soil. As proof, he's recently completed a three-month motorbike safari through southern Africa ([email protected]; $650).

3. *James "007" Pisetu

DUBA PLAINS, BOTSWANA

Pisetu began guiding at Duba Plains as the camp's first and only guide in 1996. He did all the game drives, nature walks, mokoro trips, and village tours, which gave him a unique and comprehensive knowledge of the area and its inhabitants, both wild and human. When new safari companies took over the camp—first Wilderness Safaris, then Great Plains—Pisetu served as mediator between the local communities and the companies. Perhaps his greatest skill is knowing the habits and behavior of Duba's large lion prides and buffalo herds , the dramatic, operatic interactions of which are the main reason for coming here ([email protected]; $550).

4. Paul Kiprono Kirui

MASAI MARA, KENYA

Probably Kenya's most distinguished guide, Kirui is chairman of the Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association (KPSGA), and one of only ten Gold standard guides (the highest ranking) in the country, not to mention a witty and cosmopolitan companion in the bush. He grew up in the Mara as a Masai herder and knows the ecosystem, flora, and fauna intimately . With the travel company CC Africa (now &Beyond), he established East Africa's first guiding school in the Serengeti. He remains an active Mara guide and is a major activist on vulture conservation ([email protected]; $200 plus shared $290 vehicle cost).

5. Saigilu "Jackson" Ole Looseyia

ReKERO NABOISHO CAMP, KENYA

Thanks to his appearances as a presenter on the British television wildlife program Big Cat Diary, Jackson is Kenya's best-known guide, and his charm and easygoing nature are underpinned by an intimate knowledge of his Masai homeland. As a boy, he hunted animals here with his father, a hunter-gatherer, and by the 1980s he was working as a spotter for his mentor, the safari operator/conservationist Ron Beaton. Now in his mid-40s, Jackson is a partner with the Beaton family in Masai Mara safaris, and remains an active and compelling guide ([email protected]; $500).

6. Bill Winter

Bill Winter Safaris, Kenya

A charming, urbane man, Winter grew up in Kenya and was educated in the United Kingdom and at university in South Africa. He specializes in mobile tented safaris in Ol Pejeta and the Masai Mara and is now taking clients into southern Africa. He says there is nothing better than parking his vehicle in a remote piece of wilderness, brewing up a pot of tea, "and just absorbing the smells and sights of what's going on around you . That's wilderness." ([email protected]; $1,650, including accommodations)

7. Christiaan Bakkes

PALMWAG CONSERVANCY, NAMIBIA

Bakkes is an author, novelist, and guide extraordinaire who, as a game ranger in Kruger National Park, lost his left arm when he was attacked by two crocodiles. He has a biologist's knowledge of the flora and fauna, and a poet's eye for the landscape (one of the highlights of a safari with him is his recitals of epic poems around the campfire). He is passionate about this remote desert wilderness, and although he's now the warden of Palmwag conservancy and not a day-to-day guide, he's always looking for excuses to take guests into the wilderness ([email protected]; $450).

Image may contain Tree Plant Human Person Nature Tree Trunk Landscape Outdoors Grassland Savanna Field and Animal

One of the great pleasures of a safari is an early-morning game drive followed by a breakfast feast in the bush. Here, a picnic on Masai land in southeastern Kenya.

8. Pokkie Benadie

SAMARA GAME RESERVE, KAROO, SOUTH AFRICA

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One of South Africa's three Master Trackers, Benadie is a Khoi (bushman) who grew up in the Great Karoo, joined South African National Parks at the age of 14, and helped in the creation of Karoo National Park. What he lacks in formal education he more than makes up for with his personal knowledge of this particular ecosystem and the wildlife. Mentored by Louis Liebenberg, the godfather of the science of tracking, Benadie became a Master Tracker at the age of 40. He is not a registered guide, but visitors to South Africa's Samara Game Reserve can sign up for a half-day training session at the Tracker Academy (just three miles from the lodge), where Benadie teaches city folk the art of animal tracking. His lessons are a rare and precious treat ([email protected]; donation based).

9. *Wilson Masiye and Juan Pinto

ROYAL MALEWANE LODGE, KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, SOUTH AFRICA

Masiye is another of the three surviving Master Trackers in South Africa. He's from the Shangaan tribe and speaks little English, so he works, almost telepathically, in tandem with Pinto, the erudite, multilingual, highly qualified head ranger at Royal Malewane, safari lodge to the stars. The couple have guided the likes of Elton John, Paul Allen, and Nicholas Sarkozy; Elton John in particular is a repeat guest. Pinto has also been active in fighting the current rhino poaching scourge ([email protected]; $1,245, including accommodations).

10. Richard Knocker

NOMAD SAFARIS, TANZANIA

Kenyan-born, British-educated Knocker is the first Gold-rated KPSGA guide in Tanzania. He's a founder of Nomad Safaris and guides primarily around Lamai Serengeti, his remote camp in the granite kopjes of northwest Serengeti. As with all the veteran guides, his fireside stories would work as great fiction, only they're all true, and his dry wit adds to the experience. A great walking guide—his preferred mode of safari transportation—he is also a formidable animal biologist and an activist in community conservation projects ([email protected]; $460).

11. Robin Pope

LIUWA PLAIN AND LUANGWA, ZAMBIA

Do not be deceived by his bespectacled, accountant-like appearance: Pope is a real man of the bush, and his knowledge of birds, animals, and flora makes him the best guide in his native Zambia . Honing his craft since the 1980s, he is a legendary walking guide who operates from four camps—Nsefu, Tena Tena, Nkwali, and Luangwa River Camp. He has single-handedly put Zambian safaris on the map, and although he's now based in the capital, Lusaka, he still leads walking safaris with the same passion as he did as a young guide. He's a great birder too ([email protected]; $675, including accommodations).

12. Andrew "Stretch" Ferreira

MANA POOLS, ZIMBABWE

Also known as the Elephant Whisperer of Mana Pools, Ferreira can be seen on many YouTube clips standing calmly in front of charging elephants. A tall, bearded, easygoing man of the bush, Ferreira is a former hunter who has lost the desire to kill animals but retains the hunter's bush instincts. Now he runs his own small tented-safari operation, Goliath Safaris, on the banks the Zambezi River, an area he knows so well that he can easily identify individual lions and elephants. Like Pope and Knocker, he too prefers walking safaris ([email protected]; $610, including accommodations).

13. Benson Siyawareva

NGOKO SAFARIS, ZIMBABWE AND BOTSWANA

A fully licensed guide in both countries, Siyawareva has run some of the region's most significant camps (Little Makololo in Hwange, Savuti in Botswana), in addition to helming his own guiding operation for ten years. He reads the bush brilliantly and is thus an expert tracker. His humor and bonhomie are a delight, but he takes community conservation seriously and believes that the education of African children is key to the salvation of the wilderness. He's based in Victoria Falls, where he is helping to build an orphanage ([email protected]; $400).

14. John Stevens

ZIMBABWE, BUT GUIDES IN KENYA AND TANZANIA

One of the standard-bearers of Zimbabwean guiding, Stevens is a former warden of Mana Pools National Park who led anti-poaching efforts throughout the region. He's most at home in the Zambezi Valley, and prefers walking and canoeing to traveling in a vehicle. Stevens has brilliant tracking skills and is noted for his boyish enthusiasm and unaffected, sweet disposition ([email protected]; $1,250).

15. Garth Thompson

Back in 1983, when Thompson gained his license, there were only eight such guides in the country. Today, he's widely regarded as the best African guide —he's certainly one of the most successful—due in large part to his high energy, boundless enthusiasm, and great storytelling. Though based in Zimbabwe, Thompson guides clients throughout seven countries in Africa, including the Central African Republic. He's currently taking bookings for the 2015 season ([email protected]; $1,000).

Image may contain Nature Outdoors Sky Dusk Sunset Dawn Red Sky Sunlight Silhouette and Water

Botswana's wildlife-rich Vumbura Plains.

10 Next Generation Guides

1. simon byron.

Byron is one of the Safari Footprints triumvirate (with Gregg Hughes and Matt Copham). Born and raised in Botswana, he's another guide who knew his calling from childhood. He's earned a master of science degree in environmental science and is a passionate conservationist who has set up a conservation and education trust in his homeland. During his university days, he guided for Wilderness Safaris during holidays, so he knows their Botswana camps intimately. He's charming and friendly and wears his intellect lightly (info@safarifootprints .com; $450).

2. *Florence Kagiso

KWETSANI CAMP OKAVANGO, BOTSWANA

Kagiso graduated from the Botswana Wildlife Institute at the top of her class--she was also the only woman in her class. Soft-spoken and knowledgeable, she developed a love of wildlife in early childhood (she resisted her parents' urging to pursue a career in fashion design). Her understanding of the mammals of the delta is outstanding, and she can identify every bird that flits past as she drives her boat through waterways of the Jao Concession ([email protected]; $450).

3. *Kitso Lademo

LITTLE VUMBURA, OKAVANGO DELTA, BOTSWANA

One of the youngest qualified guides working in the delta, 26-year-old Lademo has spent the past few years guiding at Little Vumbura, an area he knows like the back of his hand. Like many Botswana guides, he is a keen birder, not to mention a quietly impassioned conservationist who passes the message on at local schools ([email protected]; $450).

4. *Charity Jemutai Cheruiyot

KICHWa TEMBo/BATeLEUR CAMP, MASAI MARA, KENYA

Jemutai is one of just four female guides in the Masai Mara. A member of the Kalenjin tribe, she grew up in the Rift Valley wanting to be a travel consultant but was offered the opportunity to train at &Beyond's guide camp in Tanzania. Her passion for wildlife, she says, was learned from Paul Karui (see above). Jemutai reads voraciously and has a fine grasp of animal biology. Her favorite time in the Mara is in the months after the Great Migration when it is quiet and the grasslands are recovering ([email protected]; $600, including accommodations).

5. *Wilson ole Kasaine

PORINI AMBOSELI CAMP, KENYA

Kasaine has a very traditional Masai background: He's one of 24 children, and his father is a distinguished tribal elder who killed lions and leopards to protect his family and property. Sadly, economic circumstances prevented Kasaine from going to university, but his first love was the bush, and today he guides guests in an area that is barely ten miles from village where he was raised. His eyesight, hearing, and tracking ability are second to none —even among his fellow Masai (wilson.kasaine [email protected]; $310, including accommodations).

6. *Johnson Ping'ua ole Nkukuu (Ping)

MARA PLAINS CAMP, KENYA

Ping, who grew up in the Mara herding his father's cattle, has been guiding for 15 years and is head guide at the Mara Plains Camp—a dream come true. As amiable as he is knowledgeable, he has a great affection for hyenas, which he claims are misunderstood and demonized, and rates the Olare Orok Conservancy, where he guides, as the best cat viewing in the Masai Mara. His favorite quote is a line from William Wordsworth: "Nature does not betray the heart that loveth." ([email protected]; $385)

7. Humphrey Gumpo

Widely considered one of Zimbabwe's top young guides, Gumpo grew up in the Kariba area, trained under the brilliant Spike Williamson, and cites Williamson and Garth Thompson (see above) as his inspirations. Gumpo, who passed the exacting Zimbabwe guiding exams with flying colors, also has his river guiding license and led Wilderness Safaris' canoe trails at Mana pools for four years. Listening more carefully to the bush, he says, has made him a better guide (humphrey@ humphreygumpo.com; $600).

8. Paul Hubbard

MATOPOS, ZIMBABWE

Because Hubbard's area of specialty extends far beyond wildlife, he's quite possibly the most left-field inclusion in this listing. The 31-year-old is a polymath who grew up in rural Zimbabwe and graduated with a master of science degree in archaeology. He's immensely knowledgeable in a number of subjects, from the Matabele War and the local architectural history to the San rock art and the archaeology of the spectacular Matopos Hills. This last, a World Heritage Site, is well worth visiting for its dramatic landscape but even more so for the privilege of being guided by this brilliant young man ([email protected]; $300).

9. Ant Kashula

PRIVATE GUIDED SAFARIS, ZIMBABWE

Academic, tracker, and engaging companion, Kashula scored the highest marks ever in Zimbabwe's exacting guiding exams. He holds a master's degree in environmental and geographical science, and believes that getting out in the bush on foot is the best way to embrace the wilderness. He will guide anywhere—his small safari company operates in 12 African countries—but his area of preference is the Zimbabwean lowveld. Kashula is an academic with unique people skills, making him one of the most impressive guides I've traveled with in recent years (ant@private guidedsafaris.com; $400).

10. Beks Ndlovu

HWANGE AND MANA POOLS, ZIMBABWE

Born near Hwange and educated at an elite private school, Ndlovu went straight into guiding as soon as he could. He guided and ran camps for Wilderness Safaris for years both in Botswana and Zimbabwe, and has won many guiding awards, including the full Professional Guides License in 1998. Now the owner of luxury tented camps in Hwange and Mana Pools, he still guides select groups at his camps and is one of the most informed wildlife guides you'll find on the continent. Ndlovu is internationally traveled, yet his soul is still in the bushveld ([email protected]; $1,000).

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  • Best of the World

20 of the coolest travel adventures for 2024

From a horseback safari in Kenya to river rafting in West Virginia, here’s our ranked list of the top travel experiences right now.

This page is a portal.  No, really, it is: Our annual Best of the World feature is a gateway to the streets of Paris , the snowy Caucasus Mountains of Georgia , the ancient rock art of Algeria . To help us engage with places more deeply and meaningfully, we drew on National Geographic’s global community of experts to create the following ranked list of 20 great adventures for 2024. Read on and you’ll discover that this page is also a celebration—of travel’s power to transform us and our connections with one another.

#1: Go on horseback safari in Kenya

A safari in Africa usually conjures an image of mud-spattered 4x4 vehicles bouncing through the bush. But there’s another way to travel: on horseback. 

Although horse safaris originated in Kenya in the 1970s, they’re a perfect fit for today’s growing number of travelers looking for more engaging, sustainable wildlife encounters. At the 32,000-acre Borana Conservancy , two stables house thoroughbreds and ex-polo ponies for riders of all skill levels. Visitors can book half-day, full-day, or overnight rides. July through September is the prime time to go.

Since wildlife perceive equines as just another animal, exploring the landscape atop a horse makes for an intimate experience. “To journey on horseback is to break down the walls—meant to protect but also to separate—between oneself and the natural world,” says Nichole Sobecki , a photographer and equestrian who’s ridden in Borana. “Your horse is a translator, responding to the low growl of the lion, the soft scent of a herd of elephants.” A horse’s ears are an advance warning system, she says, helping knowledgeable guides navigate routes.

#2: Run an Olympic marathon in Paris

For the first time, members of the public will be able to run their own marathon during the 2024 Summer Olympics , in Paris, France , just one initiative aimed at creating a more inclusive Games. 

Slated to be held the evening of August 10, between the men’s and women’s official races, the Marathon for All will allow 20,024 qualifying lottery winners on the 26.2-mile route that links Paris and Versailles , a loop beginning at the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) and passing through nine arrondissements before finishing at Les Invalides on the banks of the Seine. Before or after the big event, learn the route to follow in their tracks. 

#3: Ski tour UNESCO sites in Georgia

Long a means of transportation, exploration, and hunting, skiing is still a way of life in the mountainous republic of Georgia. Now visitors can enjoy some of the nation’s best backcountry skiing in the Caucasus with the help of outfitters such as Svaneti Ski and Georgia Ski Touring . In Svaneti, excursions may lead skiers through panoramic Gvibari Pass or to medieval Ushguli villages, among the highest continuously inhabited in Europe. The best times to experience this are December to April.

#4: Bear watch in Katmai National Park

Alaska ’s Katmai National Park is home to one of the highest concentrations of brown bears in the world. Far from the crowded viewing platforms of the Brooks Camp Visitor Center, a guided trip along the Katmai coast with outfitters like AK Adventures reveals a different side of the park.

Here, the bears feast on a diversity of foods: sedges, grasses, razor clams, salmon. “For me, seeing a single brown bear in the wild is meaningful because it is a sign that the landscape is healthy enough to support it,” says Alaska photographer Acacia Johnson , a frequent National Geographic contributor.

#5: Hear legendary live music in Kyoto

Guidebooks speak of Kyoto as frozen in time, with hushed temples and meditative gardens. But after hours, Japan ’s former imperial capital reveals a live music scene that can be loud and irreverent. At venues like Jittoku and Field , rock, swing, and even Irish music echo into the night. Whatever you’re into, from jazz to punk, there’s a community to share your jam. “This is what happens in Japan when the mask comes off,” says Kyoto guide Van Milton.

#6: Cruise an epic river in Colombia

About 80 percent of Colombia ’s population lives in the river basin of the Magdalena, which flows for nearly a thousand miles from the Andes to the Caribbean. AmaWaterways’ new cruises on the river—said to be the first by a major cruise operator—take seven-night trips from Cartagena via Mompós to Barranquilla. Stops at colonial towns, performances of vallenato  and cumbia music, and visits to a stilt-house village highlight the region’s culture along this mighty waterway.

#7:  Road trip Route 66 in New Mexico

For nearly a century, Route 66 has beckoned to travelers. A trip along the Mother Road through New Mexico hits timeless landmarks , such as quirky motels and curio shops in and around Tucumcari and symbolic etchings in Petroglyph National Monument . In Gallup—mentioned as one of the places to “get your kicks” in Nat King Cole’s 1946 hit song “Route 66”—you can take in performances featuring Zuni, Lakota, and Diné (Navajo) dancers. 

Some 18 miles of the highway traverse Albuquerque , the longest urban interlude of the route in the United States. And it’s getting a half-million-dollar glow-up with the ongoing restoration of vintage neon signs along Central Avenue. 

While cruising down the brightened strip, stop at the new West Central Route 66 Visitor Center , with its museum and outdoor amphitheater. The center will host events like lowrider car shows, drive-in movies, and artisan markets.

#8: Explore ancient art in Algeria

Algeria is home to Africa’s largest national park, which holds one of the world’s greatest concentrations of ancient rock art. Tassili n’Ajjer National Park is a geologic wonderland of sandstone towers, arches, and sculpted outcrops. But these rock forests are only half the story. 

Neolithic herders and hunter-gatherers carved 15,000 petroglyphs here, including images of elephants, giraffes, and rhinos. These animals are more commonly associated with sub-Saharan Africa—a hint that this arid wilderness was once a grassland crisscrossed by waterways. Five- to seven-day guided tours with Fancy Yellow take in the most spectacular works of Tassili’s art, like the “Crying Cows,” engraved at the base of a stone pinnacle 7,000 years ago. 

Travelers with more time might want to combine a trip to Tassili with a visit to the Algerian Sahara’s other great geologic marvel: the extraordinary mountain range of Ahaggar National Park .

#9: Dive with sharks in Western Australia

Stretching almost 700 miles along the Indian Ocean north of Perth, Western Australia’ s Coral Coast is studded with natural wonders. But Ningaloo Reef is the star. Here, you can dive with giants: Some 300 to 500 whale sharks ,  one of the largest congregations on Earth, gather along the reef each year between March and July. Ethical outfitters ensure divers give the sharks space and avoid feeding them or using flash photography. 

Even more megafauna abound from July to October, when about 40,000 humpback whales migrate along the Coral Coast. You can also commune with more than 10,000 dugongs in Shark Bay or swim with manta rays at Coral Bay. 

#10: Hike a volcano in Panama

A sustainability leader, Panama recently launched its “1,000 Kilometers of Trails” project , which seeks to bring outdoor recreation and green tourism to rural communities and protected areas.

First out of the gate is the Ruta de la Caldera , a system of five trails around the extinct Valle de Antón volcano . The treks take in waterfall-speckled landscapes, according to photographer Rose Marie Cromwell , who hiked sections of the Ruta de la Caldera over five days.

“There were some spectacular views on top of the volcanic crater—interesting land formations covered in so much green,” she says.

#11: Catch the eclipse at Niagara Falls

Directly in the path of totality, Niagara Falls will offer views of a total solar eclipse, which won’t occur again in the contiguous U.S. until 2044. For about three and a half minutes, beginning at approximately 3:18 p.m. on April 8, the sky will darken over the thunderous cataract as the moon crosses between Earth and the sun. 

On the U.S. side of the falls , Terrapin Point, Prospect Point, and the Observation Tower will be prime viewing areas (if clouds stay away). From the Canadian side, an excellent vantage point is Table Rock. A side bonus: The sunny-day rainbow that hovers above the falls will become pink. 

#12: Trek a glacier in Chile

In Chilean Patagonia‘s Laguna San Rafael National Park , visitors can trek to glaciers, taking in a panorama of pale blue ice massifs and glacial waterways. Some 17,300 glaciers still cover the whole of Patagonia’s ice fields, but rising temperatures are rapidly melting them. Climate scientists say sustainable tourism , such as hikes with Chilean outfitters like Turismo Valle Leones , supports local communities and inspires travelers to learn more about how to protect glaciers.

#13: Step back in time on Menorca

Spain ’s Balearic Islands are best known for the jet-set beach destinations of Ibiza and Mallorca . But quiet, less developed Menorca has a unique mother lode: The archipelago’s greatest repository of ancient architecture.

In an area of just 270 square miles, Menorca has a total of 1,574 inventoried archaeological sites , ranging from the foundation blocks of small dwellings to well-preserved village centers that existed long before the Roman Empire. Most striking are the navetas,  megalithic tombs dating back to 1600 B.C.; talayots, watchtowers built from mortarless blocks of limestone; and   taulas,   shrines exclusive to Menorca that evoke Stonehenge pillars. These remnants of the Talayotic Menorcan culture, the first civilization to inhabit the island, have now been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List . 

The open-air monuments are easy to visit; the island’s Me-1 road passes by some of the best-preserved sites, including the settlements of Talatí de Dalt, Naveta des Tudons, and Taula de Torretrencada.

Reenter the 21st century at the new Hauser & Wirth gallery in the picturesque town of Mahón. Housed in repurposed 18th-century hospital buildings, the cultural venue presents contemporary art exhibits and has an outdoor sculpture trail with works by Louise Bourgeois and Joan Miró.

#14: Ride classic rails in Scotland

Exploring Scotland ’s wild, scenic Highlands doesn’t have to mean roughing it. The Royal Scotsman train glides among the moody lochs and dramatic peaks in style. New suites debuting in May 2024 sport interiors that reflect the compelling landscapes through dark woods, wool tweeds , and richly patterned bespoke tartans crafted by Scottish brand Araminta Campbell . After a day spent hiking to waterfalls or playing rounds of golf (a sport inextricably tied to the nation), guests can wind down with a massage at the onboard spa.

Departing Edinburgh ’s Waverley Station, the two- to seven-night rail journeys cross the heart of the Highlands, from Perthshire to Inverness to the rugged west coast. During stops guests can tour castles, stargaze in Cairngorms National Park , sample whisky at revered distilleries, and even take a dip in a loch.

#15: Find authentic flavor in Thailand 

The Isaan region in northeastern Thailand is known for its distinctive cuisine that reflects influences from bordering Laos and Cambodia. “Isaan is a hidden gem of Thailand,” says Weerawat “Num” Triyasenawat, the chef at Samuay & Sons , a Michelin Guide -recommended restaurant in the Isaan city of Udon Thani.

One key ingredient of the region’s delicious food is pla ra, a fermented-fish seasoning that boosts umami flavor. Local dishes include laab  (minced meat salad), traditionally served during celebrations.

#16: Wander tea trails in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is virtually synonymous with tea. The island nation is one of the world’s top producers of tea leaves. British colonists introduced the first bushes about 200 years ago. Now visitors can trace the footsteps of historic planters on the new, nearly 200-mile Pekoe Trail , the country’s first long-distance walking route. 

Starting just outside Kandy, the trail follows the 19th-century tracks upon which workers and horse-drawn carts transported freshly plucked leaves. Hikers pass through hill towns and tea estates and can stop to take a cooking class or savor a cup of aromatic Ceylon tea.

#17: Gallery hop in São Paulo

São Paulo, Brazil ’s largest city, is an art lover’s paradise, home to numerous galleries, exhibitions, and street murals. The crowning jewel is the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), which is expanding to showcase more of its 11,000-plus artworks, from pre-Renaissance paintings to contemporary sculptures. Departing from the usual model of exhibiting works on walls, MASP hangs some pieces against clear panels, allowing visitors to view the art from all angles.

#18: Raft the rapids in West Virginia 

Despite its name, West Virginia ’s New River is actually one of the oldest on Earth, perhaps as old as 360 million years. The river falls 750 feet in only 50 miles between sandstone cliffs. It eventually merges with the Gauley River.   Outfitters such as ACE Adventure Resort can arrange whitewater rafting trips here on Class III to V rapids through the longest and deepest river gorge in the Appalachians. 

#19: Go antiquing in Hudson Valley

The bucolic Hudson Valley is booming, thanks to an influx of New York City residents during the pandemic. But it’s long been a mecca for creatives: Its landscapes inspired America’s first artistic fraternity, the Hudson River School. Antique collectors will be drawn to the hundreds of stores, boutiques, craft shops, and flea markets that sell everything from colonial furniture and rare books to mid-century modern decor. For vintage finds, head to the Antique Warehouse in Hudson, Sister Salvage in Catskill, and Opera House Co. in Athens.

“There’s a common denominator here—the charming historic villages,” says Sarah Gray Miller, owner of Coxsackie antique store UnQuiet . From Stuyvesant to Saugerties, these towns “share a strong commitment to preservation.”

#20: Sleep on the water in British Columbia

The newly reopened Tofino Wilderness Resort , owned by the Ahousaht First Nation, is an idyllic base from which to explore the western coast of British Columbia ’s Vancouver Island. In the heart of Clayoquot Sound, the luxury floating lodge was renovated with lumber cut from timber which fell on-site. Through guided whale-watching trips or visits to the Freedom Cove artists’ sanctuary, the Ahousaht share with guests their philosophy, hishuk ish tsawalk (“everything is one”), celebrating the interconnectedness of people and nature in a land they’ve occupied for thousands of years.

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Explorers Away

A Guide to the Best African Safari National Parks for Any Traveler

T he wanderlust is real! The desire to visit Africa's best national parks and game reserves to see wildlife in their natural habitat on a luxury or budget. An African safari adventure has become a real desire for many travelers.

Going on safari is mainly an interaction with the vast and beautiful African outdoors. With so many incredible wildlife safari destinations around the world to choose from, how do you know where to go for the best African safari?

So, if an African destination appeals to you, do your research and be part of the great migration to this beautiful part of the world.

The Best African Safari Tours By Country, the Classic Safari Experience

Your best African safari depends on what you're looking for — is it a particular animal species you want to see in the wild, the type of safari holiday you're interested in such as walking tours, game drives, camping, or luxury living, and who you're traveling with. Safaris can be as varied as the continent itself.

If you fancy a safari in a national park, you've got plenty of choices — check out South Africa's national parks, or maybe the Chobe National Park , Zimbabwe's national park, in Tanzania, which is not far from Victoria Falls, or perhaps the Hwange national park, or perhaps even the Mana Pools national park - bet you didn't know there were so many national parks to discover on safari in this massive continent?

1. Tanzania

Tanzania is the size of California and offers spectacular wildlife photography opportunities. One of Africa's top safari destinations and one of the best African countries for safari. The Wildlife viewing, is out of this world and big cats are especially easy to spot and photograph. All members of the big five are found in various Tanzanian parks and reserves, and all five are present in the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park, Serengeti is the best-known wildlife spectacle in the world.

Masai Mara National Reserve is divided between Tanzania and Kenya. The Tanzania side is extremely popular. Sometimes there are too many tourists for some travelers who perhaps want a more exclusive experience. If this is you, perhaps head to upmarket camps in the west.

2. Ngorongoro Crater

The Crater sits a short drive to the east and is still within the Serengeti Conservation Area. This volcanic caldera has 250 sq km of plains, forest and lakes, and an abundance of wildlife, including lions, elephants and black rhinos.

Ngorongoro Crater was once the center of an enormous volcano, that collapsed when it erupted. Approximately 10 kilometers across and 30 meters deep with a rim that rises to a height of 1,233 meters. It is surrounded by a ring wall, having an average width of about 5 kilometers and rises to heights between 2,500 and 3,000 meters on the north and south sides. The floor of the crater is covered in ash, lapilli, small blocks from the collapse of the volcano's walls, and a few large rocks that survived its explosion.

3. Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park is known for its miles of grasslands and plains, where the wildlife embarks on an epic cyclical journey every year, as part of the Great Migration.

As the largest park in Tanzania, and is one of the most sought-after safari destinations. It's home to some amazing animals, including the Serengeti lion Pride. Millions of wildebeest migrate across its vast landscape every year during what has been coined “The Great Migration”. This park is a great place for anyone looking for the best African Safari experience.

The park has over 484 square miles of savannah, but our focus here is on the Serengeti National Park Plains where you can watch thousands of wildebeest, zebra, gazelle and waterbuck, all of which are part of the annual migration, make their way every year around March.

The driving time to the Serengeti National Park from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's largest city, is 6 hours and you can expect to see many of the animals in the Park, as well as the animals that call the Serengeti home. Our favorite time to visit is between December and February, when many of the animals are on their way to or returning from a water source.

The Serengeti is a Wildlife Paradise

It is the largest park in Tanzania and a must for any avid African photo safari fan. The Serengeti is world famous for its diverse wildlife and friendly Masaai Mara people, which you'll be able to interact with during your stay.

Whether you are looking for the best spot to photograph wildebeest, the Maasai culture, or simply for a breath of fresh air, you will find plenty to do in the park. Alongside the wildlife, Serengeti has numerous day and night game drives where you can chase big cats, or scout out the wildlife during the dark hours.

The most striking aspect of this park it is one of the few places where the photo safari experience on the move has never been so popular.

Get Close to the Lions

Lions are one of the largest predators in the Serengeti. With their massive size and spotted coats, they can be sighted lying on the plains, standing on the grass and walking across the road at any time of the year. Be sure to have your camera ready.

Make a trip to the Wildebeest Migration

Photographing the greatest migration of wildebeest is a dream come true for any avid wildlife photographer. The annual wildebeest migration is the largest mammal migration on earth, spanning over 800 kilometers. The timing coincides with the greening of nutritious grasses during the wet season, so animals can calve in relative safety. But as the plains dry, these animals are forced to move in search of greener pastures in the western corridor.

The wildebeest during this time of year comprised up to a hundred of thousands of animals, making up 60% of the total animal population in the entire Serengeti National Park ecosystem. The stunning sights can be seen on foot and by vehicle, even from a a vast distance as the flood of wildebeest make its way southwards towards the Masai Mara.

Serengeti National Park is a truly amazing experience and one we had the pleasure of experiencing with local Tanzanians as opposed to travelers. We're very glad we did. With many safari camps and lodges available in East Africa, it's not too hard to find a well-located and well-run safari camp or lodge. Talk to the guides to gain a local's perspective, as each location offers something different, and to really get a feel for East Africa, you need to go to the locals, not the tourists.

When you think of an African safari, you're probably thinking about parks in East Africa, Kenya and Tanzania.

With its spectacular snow-capped mountains, vast sandy deserts, thick jungle and superb coastlines and beaches, Kenya has perhaps some of the best African safaris for any traveler.

Kenya is also one of the best places to visit if you want to see the Big Five of Africa . Lions, Cape buffalo, leopards, rhinoceros, wild dogs and elephant. And of course, don't forget Victoria Falls.

5. Masai Mara National Reserve

Masai Mara National Park is a game reserve that is famous for its wildlife and open grasslands. One of the major highlights is The Great Migration, which takes place every year when wildebeest and zebra migrate in large numbers to the park's water sources. Masai Mara Reserve also offers over 450 bird species in its diverse habitats. World-renowned for its abundance of lions, leopards, cheetahs and African bush elephants.

When thinking about the top safari destinations in Africa, Masai Mara is always at the top of the list. In southwest Kenya, near Tanzania, this premier national park offers everything you could want on a safari.

6. Botswana

Botswana is known as ‘Africa's last Eden' and has grown as a safari destination free from fences and farmlands.

This means it is a vast wildlife haven with big game, from lions to herds of rhinos and buffalo. Its natural landscapes are incredible, from baobabs on the salt pans to its spectacular desert sands.

This Botswana safari destination is known for wilderness camping — you can spend a night or two outside the lodge and sleep under the stars.

In Botswana, there are over 130,000 elephants, more than anywhere else in the world, and other popular species include black-maned lions, big cats, herds of zebra, the rhino, hippos and a wide range of birds. 200,000 large mammals have their seasonal home in the Okavango Delta.

7. South Africa Kruger National Park

People tend to combine the best South African safari with a bit of sightseeing and shopping in Cape Town. Perhaps you'll fancy a bit of luxurious hotel staying as well whilst you're in Cape Town, as a break from safari lodgings.

The reserves and parks near Cape Town aren't to be missed either. Win, win!

South Africa has a large game reserve in Kruger National Park , which makes it a perfect place for self-guided and first-time safari travelers. A game-viewing safari has 22,000 sq km for all types of travelers, with plenty of rural landscapes to keep you more than happy.

The Big Five game viewing includes rhino species, cheetah, wild dog, numerous large herbivores and over 500 bird species. The habitat is really varied, from hills and deserts to woodland, rivers and forests.

Choose from exclusive lodges to large public camps and from night drives to wilderness trails. First-time safari travelers and those of you on a tight budget will probably find this one of Africa's most accessible and most rewarding safari destinations.

8. Etosha National Park, Namibia

Etosha National Park is amazing, and the abundance of wildlife is surprising. Some of the most common and rarest wildlife species live in the park. Areas with thick vegetation are home to elephants, zebras, the endangered black rhino and even the leopard. Lions are camouflaged in the pale golden colour of the grasslands, while giraffes rise-high above the dry vegetation.

Bird photographers will love the rainy season in Etosha. After a good rain, the salt pan fills with water, attracting an abundance of flamingos. There are over 340 bird species living in Etosha National Park. Ostriches the world's largest bird, and the heaviest flying bird the Kori Bustard are residents of the park.

Aspiring photographers visit the park looking to enhance their skills and photo-library. In winter, the waterholes offer a unique opportunity to sit and wait for the wildlife to come to you. The waterholes that surround the camps ensure you are never left without something to photograph.

Animals in Etosha National Park

Watch real-life battle for lions, leopards, and the cheetah are commonplace in Etosha. Surprisingly, lions are not the most common large-game species in Etosha National Park. A vast amount of game lives within the grasslands of the park, from zebras, giraffes, impalas, kudus and elephants. As you move through the park, you can often see lions enjoying the late afternoon sun. Just a few days into the park, you may have a sighting.

Etosha National Park a Photographer's Haven

Etosha offers endless opportunities for photographic adventure and it's no surprise that the big game reserves of Africa are very popular among wildlife enthusiasts, tourists, and photo-minded professionals.

However, to make the most of your trip to Etosha, you'll need to research your destination, figure out where the best shots will be and plan your time wisely to make the most out of your stay.

Etosha National Park is split into two different areas: the dry and wet seasons are separated by a few days in August when the rains begin.

In the dry season (June- September) temperatures can reach 40 degree celsius, you'll need to travel with plenty of water and sunscreen.

9. Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

Visiting Hwange National Park during the dry season would be the best, which starts in June or July. The park is home to some of the most majestic animals on Earth. Including the big five lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffaloes. There is also a high concentration of giraffes, zebras and African wild dogs.

Hwange National Park has a wide variety of activities for visitors, ranging from wildlife viewing to hiking through the bushveldt.

10. Zambia South Luangwa National Park

South Luangwa National Park is one of the best-known national parks in Zambia. Home to a large range of hippos, crocodiles and lions. The river teems with wildlife and provides a lifeline of photographic opportunities of the greatest diversity of habitat and wildlife in all of Africa.

This National Park is one of Zambia's most iconic and prized wildlife destinations. The wildlife of Zambia comprises a mix of animals from the Congo, Botswana and South Africa .

The park is bordered by a steep escarpment, and the other side is lined with lush grass. The Luangwa Valley lies at the tail end of Africa's Great Rift System, extending 4 thousand kilometers from Cape Town to Mozambique, forming an incredible natural resource that has been unexplored until now.

The unfenced nature makes it possible for wildlife to be protected without being deterred by fences or walls.

11. Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls is a majestic waterfall on the Zambezi River. Not only does it provide habitat for many species of plants and animals, but this breathtaking cascade falls into two different countries, Zimbabwe and Zambia. It may not be the highest nor widest waterfall on Earth. However, Victoria Falls is the world's largest sheet of falling water, making it a popular tourist attraction. The Falls has two islands on the crest that divide the curtain of water even at full flood: Boaruka Island and Livingston Island. The locals call it Mosi-oa-Tunya , “The Smoke That Thunders”.

Destination Africa

Do you want to see the world's most beautiful animals up close?  African safari tours are a great way to experience nature at its finest. You can go on an adventure of a lifetime and have incredible animal encounters that will make your heart pound faster than it ever could when watching a documentary. The national parks in East and Southern Africa present excellent opportunities for animal encounters that will make your heart pound faster than it ever could when watching a documentary. You won't find another experience like this anywhere else on the planet!

Frequency Asked Questions

The best guides are usually employed by the national parks or private game reserves. They are at the parks full time. They have the best experience and knowledge of the parks and will know where the animals linger in different seasons and where the best watering holes are.

Six to ten days is the optimal amount of time you’ll need for your safari experience. The more days, the better! Adding arrival and departure points will ensure that all necessary transportation arrangements can be made without leaving any gaps in sightseeing or game viewing.

This is the part where you decide how much you’re willing to spend for the best African Safari. This will help determine what kind of trip and when, so choose wisely! There are many safari companies out there for different countries in Africa that are a perfect fit for any adventure seeker’s bucket list. They offer tours from entry level to thousands of dollars a day.

Best time to go on an African Safari ? I would suggest June through October during these months, you have a better chance of seeing lions in their natural habitat. However, the best time for an African Photo Safari is during the fall. The months of September, October, March or April are ideal because Africa’s seasons run opposite to North America’s.

Has the thought of going on a safari to Africa become even more of an obsession after more than a year of being in lock

IMAGES

  1. Cameron Pearce wins the Safari Guide of the Year 2022

    safari guide of the year

  2. Safari Guide of The Year 2015

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  3. Safari Guide Of The Year 2015

    safari guide of the year

  4. Safari Guide of the Year 2019

    safari guide of the year

  5. Here they are: The 5 contestants for the Safari Guide of the Year 2019

    safari guide of the year

  6. Safari Guide of the Year 2019 Introduction

    safari guide of the year

COMMENTS

  1. Best Safari Camps

    Book an unforgettable safari in Tanzania with Asilia and stay in authentic safari camps. From the Serengeti to the Ngorongoro, Tanzania's safari destinations are world-famous.

  2. Winners of Safari Guide of the Year 2022

    Without further ado, we present the overall winner of Safari Guide of the Year 2022: Cameron Pearce. Cameron was the overall winner of Safari Guide of the Year 2022. He also won in the categories of Guided Walk, Track and Sign, Birding and Storytelling. Nico Brits won the categories of Hospitality and Best on Camera.

  3. Introducing the Safari Guide of the Year 2019

    Riaan Fourie has been awarded the coveted and prestigious title 'Safari Guide of the Year 2019' after a tough week of scrutiny from mentors and intense but convivial competition amongst the five chosen finalists. The five contestants, during the tracks and signs tests © Simon Espley VIDEO: The winner is revealed #SGOTY2019: The winner is revealed

  4. Safari Guide of the Year

    About Safari Guide of the Year Mystery 5-Star Location: Host Sponsor of Safari Guide of the Year 2024 Nomination Criteria FGASA member, fully paid up and qualified 5 years or more working bush experience Trails Guide (NQF4) qualification Minimum NQF4 Nature Site Guide qualification Download the Nomination Form Meet the Judges Mike Karantonis

  5. About Safari Guide of the Year

    The Safari Guide of the Year competition honours the hard work, sacrifice, training, skills development, knowledge, and expertise field guides across southern Africa need to deliver an ethical, immersive, engaging, and informative safari experience to guests from all over the world.

  6. Interview with 2022's Safari Guide of the Year, Cameron Pearce

    Named 2022's Safari Guide of the Year, Cameron Pearce is just as happy spending a day twitching as he is out walking, behind a lens or sitting around a campfire. His motivation is simple: to be the best in the business, and to see as much of this magnificent continent as he can. Interview by Lauren Dold. I might not be a rocket scientist, or ...

  7. Safari Guide of the Year

    Safari Guide of the Year is an annual event that takes place in South Africa. A carefully selected number of field guides who obtain a high level of FGASA qu...

  8. First woman to win Safari Guide of the Year: Kimberlee Le Hanie

    On 7 June, Kimberlee Le Hanie from Lion Sands made history as the first woman to win Safari Guide of the Year in the history of the competition. Kimberlee has been guiding for nearly six years since qualifying as a guide through the MORE Field Guide College in 2017. Kimberlee now guides at Lion Sands Private Game Reserve in Greater Kruger.

  9. Safari Guide of the Year 2022 announces the finalists

    David Batzofin - May 30, 2022 2593 In no particular order, these are the five finalists that will be participating in Safari Guide of the Year 2022. Background: Liam is 30 years old and is from Johannesburg. A FGASA qualified Professional Field Guide and Lead Trails Guide, he currently works at The Homestead in Kwa Zulu Natal.

  10. Safari Guide of the year

    Safari Guide of the year. 3,750 likes · 500 talking about this. Safari Guide of the Year is an annual event. A carefully selected number of guides who obtain a high level of FGASA qualifications are...

  11. The First Female to Win Safari Guide of the Year

    As the ultimate winner and new Safari Guide of the Year, Kimberlee received the grand prize of R25,000 from Canon, a $1000 cash prize, a two-night stay at Ongava in Namibia, and the opportunity to ...

  12. Safari Guide of the year

    Safari Guide of the year. 4,707 likes. Safari Guide of the Year is an annual event. A carefully selected number of guides who obtain a high level of FGASA qualifications are assessed on a number of...

  13. SGOTY

    Safari Guide of the Year is an annual event which creates awareness for these men and women who dedicate their lives to tourism and wildlife. Five expert guides are pitted against each other in skills such as bush driving, shooting, tracking, birding and photography. Hang out with Steve Faulconbridge! 30th June and 1st July

  14. Safari Guide of the Year 2023

    It takes place from the 2 - 8 June 2023. The event showcases and recognises the very best guides in the safari industry. Guides are nominated, and the gruelling selection process is geared to select five finalists to compete against each other for the prestigious title of 'Safari Guide of the Year'.

  15. Safari Guide of the Year

    On the 1st of July we pay tribute to the people who have dedicated their lives to wildlife and tourism.Join us for the prestigious annual event only on WildE...

  16. Safari Guide of the Year, 2021…The judging panel

    David Batzofin - June 18, 2021 4078 "Cherish times like these. They are very special and the opportunity for guides to compete for themselves does not come around very often. Make this a week to remember and one that you can look back on in years to come as a very special time where knowledge was shared and bonds were formed. Just be you."

  17. James Tyrrell

    Tyrrell not only shows but teaches too - about safety, animal spotting, birds, knowledge of the wilderness and people. He shares his passions and invokes them in others, transforming a typical safari into an extra-ordinary one. While Tyrrell is fuelled simply by his love for what he does, let us boast about some of his accolades for him!

  18. Safari Guide of the Year

    Safari Guide of the Year (SGOTY) is an annual event powered by FGASA in partnership with various sponsors and private donors. The aim of the competition is to recognise and celebrate field...

  19. Safari Guide of the Year

    The Safari Guide of the Year competition reflected this in the various categories that the competitors were assessed under; Birding, photography, tracking, shooting, story-telling, game drive and guided walk.

  20. Safari Guide of the year

    Safari Guide of the year 8 years ago Save To become a safari guide/field guide in S. Africa means years of pratical application combined with numerous exams. Not an exaggeration to say anyone graduating has a massive knowledge of the bush and all its facets.

  21. The 25 Best Safari Guides

    December 2, 2013 Safari guides hold it in their hands to make or break dreams, yet finding a good one can be vexing for the uninitiated. As a native Zimbabwean, Graham Boynton has spent decades...

  22. Welcome to the Safari Guide of the Year 2023 Awards Night

    As the Host Sponsor of Safari Guide of the Year 2023, Kapama Private Game Reserve is excited for tonight's final awards ceremony. Join us live to see will ta...

  23. 20 of the coolest travel adventures for 2024

    From a horseback safari in Kenya to river rafting in West Virginia, here's our ranked list of the top travel experiences right now. A safari in Africa usually conjures an image of mud-spattered ...

  24. A Guide to the Best African Safari National Parks for Any Traveler

    1. Tanzania. Tanzania is the size of California and offers spectacular wildlife photography opportunities. One of Africa's top safari destinations and one of the best African countries for safari.

  25. Safari Guide Of The Year

    We couldn't be more proud of andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve guide Ian Lombard, who was named the Safari Guide of the Year for 2015. This esteemed annu...

  26. Safari Guide of the year

    Safari Guide of the year. 4,656 likes. Safari Guide of the Year is an annual event. A carefully selected number of guides who obtain a high level of FGASA qualifications are assessed on a number of...

  27. Chloe :) on Instagram: "Come along as we explore the safari that is the

    Our amazing tour guide, ..." Chloe :) on Instagram: "Come along as we explore the safari that is the architecture department! Our amazing tour guide, Azi, will take you through everything you can expect to see throughout the academic year on the floor.