Why Zimbabwean guides are some of Africa’s finest

Ever wondered what goes into becoming one of Zimbabwe’s world class guides? The answer: lots of hard work and dedication, and several years apprenticed to a qualified professional guide. And, of course, a passion for the bush. 

After receiving their learner’s licence, a learner guide needs to work for a safari company as an apprentice. During their apprenticeship, they work to expand and improve their huge knowledge base, and also develop the practical skills, experience and proficiency required to  guide guests safely and professionally in the wild. 

It usually takes a minimum of four years – but often considerably longer – to earn the title of professional guide in Zimbabwe. In fact, many of them study for longer than it takes to become a doctor prior to obtaining their professional guiding licence – and passing the final proficiency exam is no small feat. 

The process is one of the toughest in Africa, but the end result is a highly skilled, expert guide best placed to help you have a truly memorable African safari experience. 

Striving to be the best

Although all of Kavinga’s learner guides already have lots of experience, they’re continuously working to develop their capabilities. 

Prior to the start of season our head guide Dylan (a professional guide since 2022) spends many hours helping them to improve their skills, for example by practising how to lead walks and approach animals, or using on-the-spot quizzes to test their knowledge about the fauna and flora in Mana Pools National Park. 

Kavinga guides watching elephant

Head guide Dylan and learner guide Nash practising an approach with an elephant in the Rukomeshi riverbed

Learner guide testing to see which way the wind is blowing

Learner guide Nash testing to see which way the wind is blowing, to decide how best to approach an elephant

And their training and learning continues throughout the season…you’ll often find our guides huddled over a book or discussing an uncommon plant or unusual sighting in their free time. They value being tested on their knowledge, so please ask them any questions you might have! 

If you’d like to know more about the Zimbabwean guiding qualification, take a look at this article by Julian Brookstein.

Giving back

But our guides don’t just share their knowledge with each other and our guests – they also like to help develop the local communities’ knowledge of the wild. 

For example, the Kavinga guiding team, led by Dylan, recently held an awareness and education session for 30 people, including the wider Kavinga staff team and the staff at the Tsetse Research Station. They discussed animal behaviour, with a particular focus on what signs to look out for and how to respond when you encounter different animals in the bush. They also spent time answering a variety of questions. 

Dylan says: “We want to give back to the next generation. It’s important to help people better understand the wild, not only for their safety, but also to increase their appreciation for the special natural areas and wildlife that we’re fortunate to live among.”

Head guide Dylan providing training on animal behaviour to staff

Head guide Dylan providing training on animal behaviour to staff from Kavinga Safari Camp and the Tsetse Research Station

Kavinga guides in discussion with staff about animal behaviour

Kavinga Safari Camp guides providing in discussion with our staff and the Tsetse Research Station team

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Poppy the leopard yawning while lying on a tree branch