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Naturalist Guides

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Our Naturalist Guides are of the highest order and are considered to be the most important ingredient for providing these life enriching journeys. We hear the same praise from departing guests time and again: “Ultimate guides are out of this world!”

From Day One we have made it our priority to recruit and develop the best full time guiding team in Namibia, striving to match the ‘perfect guide’ to any given safari and thus ensuring ‘out of this world’ experiences. Our guides are all Namibian, and well known throughout the country; some of them are published writers and photographers, some are lecturers, but all are recognized Namibian personalities.

Knowledge, experience and character can be taken for granted, whilst charisma, passion and motivation combine with these traits to create the perfect guides - Ultimate guides. These are personable, engaging, caring and have a passion for travel and the world around them, thus enriching the lives of our guests as well as the people we take them to visit. Such unique individuals are a rare find indeed, and these particular individuals are dedicated to the values that make us Ultimate Safaris.

Meet our Naturalist Guides

Ultimate Safaris - Alpha Tjai-Tjai-Mau

Alpha Tjai-Tjai-Mau

Background

Alpha was born and raised in the desert settlement of Uis on the edge of the Namib Desert. The town is in the heart of Damaraland and close to the foot of the Brandberg Mountain which is the highest in Namibia. As he had been surrounded by these surreal landscapes throughout his childhood, it was almost inevitable that he would want to follow a career involving nature in some form.

Alpha attended primary school in Uis, and then went off to board at the Martin Luther High School. At the age of sixteen he was introduced to guiding by his nephew, Collin, who was a mountain guide at the Brandberg. They went on a hike up to the summit of the mountain with some guests and Alpha saw for himself how much knowledge, enthusiasm, and charisma was required when dealing with visitors and demonstrating the nature of this fascinating region. This is what really started him thinking that this was something he would like to be able to do himself

 Alpha then went back to finish his time at school and completed his studies in 2004. He now lives in Windhoek where he has a girlfriend and a young daughter that he dotes on 

Guiding Experience

Alpha received basic guide training from Wilderness Safaris in 2007, but he only started to guide professionally in 2012. He spent more than a year as a field guide at Wolwedans on the Namib Rand Nature Reserve, and then moved on to join Wilderness Safaris. He worked at a variety of camps in Sossusvlei, Hoanib Skeleton Coast and Serra Cafema, obtaining intimate knowledge of all these iconic areas before deciding that it was time to move on from being a camp based guide and become a National guide. He therefore applied to join the Ultimate Safaris Naturalist guiding team in order to fulfil this objective and to broaden his knowledge of the rest of the country, and he was successful in that ambition.  Alpha obtained a certificate in tourism and hospitality, level 2, through the Wolwedans Desert Academy, and then started with his national guiding certification while with Wilderness Safaris

Personal Interests

Hiking and Anthropology, and having the opportunity to meet a very wide variety of people with very diverse interests and experiences 

Why I enjoy guiding

Alpha is passionate about all things to do with nature, and guiding gives him the platform to share his knowledge with others and to discover more hidden treasures of this beautiful land with people from all areas and all walks of life.

On Trail…

“On my first morning game drive in the Hoanib River when based at the Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, my guests and I were very fortunate to witness an unexpected hunt by a group of ‘desert’ lions.  Known as the five musketeers, this group of young male lions became very famous in the region and four of them eventually became the stars of a documentary film.  As we watched, the lions managed to chase down a giraffe, eventually making bringing it down right in front of our game drive vehicle. This was real privilege to watch, and it is something that none of those present will ever forget”

Ultimate Safaris - Stewart Matsopo

Stewart Matsopo

Background

Stewart was born in the small town of Nyanga on the eastern border of Zimbabwe, and attended school in Harare. After completing High School he went on to attend a tourism college as he knew from an early age that this was where his interests would lie. Unfortunately, this was at a time when tourism in Zimbabwe was on a downward spiral so he had to drop out of school due to lack of funding. Stewart filled his time by selling a variety of goods, ranging from curio craft for tourists to truckloads of fish caught in a nearby dam, and he then moved on to South Africa in 2004 in the hope of finding something more constructive to do. He ended up doing part time laboring on a variety of farms, one of which was a hunting farm where he learned about tracking game from the resident hunting guide. This is where he got his first taste of dealing with international visitors but it did not last as he had to leave and return to Zimbabwe after only one year.

On his return, he went back to selling goods locally until he met someone who took curios across for sale in Windhoek and who wanted Stewart to work for him. He had never been to Namibia before but he set off across to Windhoek in 2008 and has been based in Namibia ever since. His break came when selling curios in the town center and a couple of German tourists asked him to show them around the town after he had sold them some curios. He agreed to do so and quickly did some studying from a city guide book before setting off later that day. The guests told him he was too talented just to be selling curios on the street and that he should become a full time guide as he clearly had a talent for that. Once his enthusiasm for sharing his knowledge with visitors had been kindled in this way, he went off to learn more and developed a real passion for guiding.

Guiding Experience

Once he had identified that this was what he wanted to do, he did his research and found that he could do all the necessary training at the Namibian Academy for Hospitality and Tourism (NATH), but that this was expensive and he did not have enough money to do it. His next lucky break came when he contacted the guests who had originally set him on this path and they offered to pay for his training which he started in early 2009. After completing many of the relevant courses, he was offered a job at Mowani Mountain Camp as part of his ‘on the job’ training, and he spent the next three years at this lovely camp. This is where he got his first taste of real naturalist guiding out in the wilderness, and it also gave him the chance to get to know most of the wonderful scenery of ‘Damaraland’ based, from the Twyfelfontein area, as well as learning many intimate details about the desert adapted wildlife found there.

After three great years in Damaraland, he wanted to see other parts of the country so applied to join Wilderness Safaris. He then worked in the South and had the opportunity to learn about the desert conditions in the Namib, and he practiced his guiding skills when conducting daily excursions into the Sossusvlei Area when based on the Kulala Reserve. As this is a completely different area with far less game, he had to learn about all the small things that make time in the desert so interesting for visitors, and this did wonders for his guiding skills as he had to be much more inventive in what he showed his guests in this unique and challenging environment. After spending a year on desert guiding he returned to Damaraland, but took the opportunity to continue with his NATH courses and attend a specialized birding course on Damaraland residents as well as one highlighting the behavioral differences between desert adapted elephants and elephants in other areas.

After acting as assistant camp manager as well as a guide at Damaraland Camp he began taking on more responsibilities and a wider variety of tasks as he continued to work his way North - ending up working at Serra Cafema on the Kunene river. Here he got to explore the North Western part of the country as well as gaining valuable experience when running boat cruises on the river. This gave him the chance to really focus on the birding aspect of his guiding skills, and the exposure he got in the various areas gave him a firm grasp on the greater picture of Namibia and how it all comes together.

In 2014, Stewart decided that it was time to become a National guide so he applied to join the Ultimate Safaris and was willingly accepted. He arrived with a valuable breadth and depth of experience as well as a lovely cheerful personality. Everyone lucky enough to travel with him values these traits and enjoys every moment of their safari with him.

Personal Interests

Many sports including tennis, and spending time outdoors.

Why I enjoy guiding

It allows me the opportunity to be out there in wilderness where I feel free and able to fully relax in an environment that I am very comfortable with.

On Trail…

While I was at Mowani, I took a group on a morning drive to look for desert elephant and I was asked at our tea break if we went out to put up the round nests that the guests thought were decorations to make the trees look more attractive. I explained that nests were built by various species of birds, mainly weavers of one sort or another, and I had illustrations to show her what these birds looked like, but one guest still didn’t believe me. On my way back to camp I stopped at a tree with White-browed Sparrow-weaver nests and we walked up to have a closer look at the nests. Even after that, she still didn’t believe me and insisted that we were the ones that put these clumps of grass in the tree.

We went out on the afternoon to visit Twyfelfontein and I stopped again at the same tree on the way back in the hope that the birds would be coming in and out of their nests. We sat there for about fifteen minutes and finally the birds returned to the nests and luck was on my side as they were making repairs to their nests. Finally, these guests now believed what I had been telling them all day. What I learnt from this experience is that some people really have no idea about Africa and the wildlife that inhabits it, and this increased my pleasure in being able to share information about our wonderful continent with them.

Ultimate Safaris - Orlando Haraseb

Orlando Haraseb

Background

Orlando comes from a small town called Erwee close to Kamanjab in north western Namibia. He started school in Windhoek and later moved on to attend a rural High School where he got his first taste of nature through a program called ‘footprints’ run by the Rossing Foundation. After finishing school he joined the Namibian Police Force and worked there for nine years, ending up as a detective. During this time he also represented Namibia in the national soccer team on 49 occasions, in many of which he was the team captain. This also enabled him to travel extensively and to visit numerous countries around the world.

After leaving the Police Force, Orlando tried one or two other jobs before changing direction and deciding to focus on tourism, starting work at Hobatere Lodge near Kamanjab in 2002. He stayed there for the next four years under the mentorship of renowned birder and naturalist Steve Braine until he decided he needed to broaden his horizons and work on a national rather than local basis. He came to join the guiding team at SandyAcre Safaris, and the company later merged with another to become Ultimate Safaris in 2008. Orlando stayed on to become the lead guide and guide trainer for the new company.

Over the years, Orlando has continued to learn the skills of his trade and has furthered his knowledge through attending the full range of training courses offered by NATH (Namibian Academy for Tourism and Hospitality). His extensive knowledge and enthusiasm ensured that he quickly became a guide trainer himself, and has developed this into being the instructor of choice for courses teaching guiding skills to members of rural conservancies who are keen to become involved in tourism activities in their area. He was such a successful ambassador for NATH that he was voted the Academy’s vice chairman in 2010, and he still holds this post today. Now based in Windhoek, he stills spends much of the time when he is not on safari himself running training courses in the local communities, thus demonstrating the principle of ‘giving back’. Orlando married in early 2019 and has a number of children who he loves and adores, and who he has already got interested in wildlife. In fact, even the youngest (twins) consider their favourite treat to be going out to the dam with Daddy to identify the birds they find there.

Guiding Experience

Orlando is one of the most knowledgeable and respected national guides in Namibia, and he has awards to prove that. He is also something of a celebrity which makes it difficult to walk down a city street with him without having someone want to stop him and talk to him. His love of nature was imbued in him at a young age and, having spotted his guiding potential, Steve Brain took him under his wing and also sent him on a series of training courses to widen his general knowledge. However, birding was still the aspect of guiding that brought them closest together and that they both enjoyed the most. As a result of this, Orlando left Hobatere with an excellent basis for his own birding skills and he has continued to work on them ever since, becoming a respected ‘birder’ in his own right and well able to act as specialist guide on birding safaris.

Orlando has now been a national guide with Ultimate Safaris for many years and his approach to learning and training means that his own knowledge increases every year. He has the highest non-specialist guiding qualification possible in Namibia and teaches many of the subject modules himself. He is very popular with those that travel with him, and he invariably returns with a ‘Guide Critique’ form showing him as being scored 10 out of 10, as well as often being identified as one of the highlights of the safari.

In late 2015, Orlando was officially recognized when he was awarded Silver at the Wanderlust Guide Awards. He was one of over a thousand nominees and winning the award means he was recognized as one of the best guides in the World. This is a great testament to his guiding experience and his personality and it was on the back of this that set up his own safari company. After an exciting few years, he felt he would like the support provided by being part of a larger organisation and decided to return to Ultimate Safaris as part of a merger between companies

Orlando is often quiet while others are noisy, thoughtful where others rush in, and calm where others are over excited, but he has strong beliefs, strict professionalism, and great depth of character. As a result, he is interesting and informative company on safari and he has a quiet but occasionally wicked sense of humour which is not always obvious, but can be hilariously funny.

Personal interests

Football, tennis, birding and travel.

Why I enjoy guiding

A way of meeting new people and enjoying the thing I love – the wonders of nature!

On trail…

In my first years of guiding at Hobatere lodge I went out with two guests, one a fanatical photographer, sitting on the roof of the vehicle to look for endemic bird species on the Hobatere Concession. When we approached the hide we planned to use, we came across a female lion with two cubs who were feeding on a young zebra. The road continued up an embankment and, when trying to go up that, the car got stuck and was unable to move forward or backwards. As fate would have it, the moment the car finally stopped the lion started charging at us. The car was going nowhere so I had to climb out of the vehicle to lock the wheels so we could use the differential lock. I hopped back into the vehicle and at that moment the lion was just five metres away – so close you could clearly see her eyes. I put my foot on the accelerator but the car didn’t move - but it did create a big cloud of black smoke which, to our relief, scared the female off. Finally the car moved forward, but as we climbed the bank we noticed a male lion was also approaching us at a high speed, so I put ‘pedal to the metal’ and sped off. When we came to a stop some distance away, I opened the bonnet and a puff of steam came out as the engine had overheated due to the loss of the fan belt. While waiting for it to cool, I calmed myself and cleared my throat and distinctly heard the guest sitting in the car saying to his companion “Wow, that was great, I almost messed in my pants”.

What I learnt from this experience is that, no matter what equipment you have, you can’t only rely on that. You also need to keep a cool head – even in the most difficult situations.

Ultimate Safaris - Gerhardus Jansen

Gerhardus Jansen

Background

Gerhardus comes from an extended family that originates in the north west of the country (former Damaraland), although some of his immediate family are now based in Gobabis in the east. He was born in the regional capital of Khorixas and attended primary school in Bergsig, a remote settlement close to Palmwag, where he helped the family by looking after their small livestock. This is where he obtained his first intimate knowledge of the area and its wild inhabitants, and it is also where he had his first experience of tourism as he used to take part time work at the nearby Damaraland Camp during his school holidays. He moved to finish his schooling at the High School in Gobabis, but still returned regularly to work at Damaraland Camp whenever he could.   

After leaving school, Gerhardus wanted to continue to work with visitors to the country so he applied to take part in a Wilderness Safaris guide training programme that started in 2004. He passed all the course sections and was immediately offered a job a waiter working back at Damaraland Camp on a full time basis, so he could not have been happier. Unsurprisingly, he then quickly proved his worth and was promoted to become a guide, and he spent the next few years honing his skills in an area that he loved and already knew well. After finishing there, he went on to work at a variety of other camps including Desert Rhino camp, Hoanib Skeleton Coast camp and Serra Cafema camp - and time at these venues gave him a deep knowledge of the whole of the north western part of the country. He also worked at Kulala Desert Lodge in the Namib and that added desert guiding skills to his increasingly impressive list of attributes.

Guiding experience

Gerhardus started guiding when at in Damaraland Camp and then moved to different camps to improve his knowledge of guiding in different areas. These camps included Serra Cafema by the Kunene River in the north, Desert Rhino Camp on the Palmwag Concession area, and the old Skeleton Coast Camp by the Khumib River in Kaokoland (now closed).  Here Gerhardus gained a deep knowledge of these fascinating parts of Namibia and also learned about the desert elephants and black rhinos that are still found there to this day.

Gerhardus conducted many walking trips in Damaraland and always enjoyed them as they allow him to share the intimate experience of nature you gain when you get out and about ‘on the ground’ with guests. In time, he decided that he wanted to move on from being a lodge based guide to become a national guide so left to try his hand as a freelance guide working for a variety of companies and taking the opportunity to learn more about some of the other areas where he had not previously worked. After another two years of general guiding, he eventually found his ‘spiritual home’ at Ultimate Safaris and has become a valued member of our specialist naturalist guiding team

Personal interests

Gerhardus loves all things in nature, but especially birding and game viewing. He is also fascinated by local culture and takes pleasure is sharing his knowledge of that with visitors.

Why I enjoy guiding

Because I enjoy meeting different people from all over the world and sharing what I have learned about my amazing country with them – as well as learning more about the rest of the world from them.

On trail…

One of my most memorable guiding experiences happened while I was guiding in Serra Cafema which is situated by the Kunene River where it forms the northern border between Namibia and Angola.  As you would expect, this is a very remote area.

While out on a boat trip along the river with guests staying at the camp, the boat was suddenly attacked by a huge crocodile in a way that I had never seen before. I had to steer the boat away to avoid this giant, but I remained very curious as to why it behaved in such an unusual way. I therefore circled round for another look and discovered what had happened. There was a whole bunch of baby crocodiles lined up along the bank of the river and she clearly though we had posed a threat to them. We backed off and left them to their own devices – but took away an amazing memory of a most unusual, and fairly scary, experience

Ultimate Safaris - Vincent Kahiha

Vincent Kahiha

Background

Although Vincent was born in Windhoek, he spent the majority of his time when growing up on his family’s farm near Aminuis, where his father raised livestock.  Young Vincent spent a lot of time out in the field tending to the livestock, which is where he developed his knowledge of the other wilder inhabitants of the area and his love for nature. His mom was a teacher at the local primary school, which Vincent attended before going to boarding school in Windhoek, and then continuing to obtain a diploma in Travel & Tourism Management.

He decided that guiding would give him the opportunity to re-establish his connection with the bush so went on study at NATH (Namibian Association of Travel and Hospitality) and was fortunate enough to have his studies funded by a scholarship for suitably able candidates that was offered by the MCA (Millennium Challenge Account). He completed all the courses there and received the highest, level 3, National guiding qualification. Despite being a full time naturalist guide, Vincent is continuing with his studies and is currently in the process of completing his bachelor’s degree in Travel and Tourism Management.

Guiding Experience

Vincent went on to work in the Namib as a guide at Wolwedans on the Namib Rand Nature Reserve where he had the opportunity to master the intricacies of the Namib Desert which forms a major part of all safaris to Namibia. He proved to be so impressive that he was selected to work as a field guide at Animal Kingdom in Disney World in Orlando for a year before rerunning to the country he loves best.

His amiable and pleasant personality combined with the skills and enthusiasm he demonstrated identified Vincent as an ideal candidate to join the professional team of naturalist guides at the Ultimate Safaris. He has shown that he was an inspired choice as he has fitted in extremely well with the rest of the team and has proved his abilities by consistent positive responses from the guests he has worked with.

With the passion for wildlife that was instilled in him from a very young age and with the knowledge he has acquired since he began his guiding career, Vincent has proved to be a valuable asset. He is a ‘gentle soul’, an intrepid explorer, and an absolute pleasure to travel with.

Personal Interests

Travel and sports such as Soccer

Why I enjoy guiding

Guiding allows me to interact with people from cultures all across the globe, and it gives me a platform to demonstrate many aspects of my amazing country and to show visitors the detail of what Namibia has to offer.

On Trail

I was once guiding a group in Etosha and one of the guests got increasingly irritated by the fact that we had not been able to locate any elephants. Unfortunately, it was just one of those days when there were no elephant on the southern side of the Pan and I confirmed with a number of other guides that they hadn’t been able to find any either, However, my guest kept saying that there were lots of elephant in the Park and that it was ridiculous that I couldn’t find any for him to watch as being able to do that was one of the main reasons why he had come on the safari. I could tell that the other guests were getting increasingly irritated by this, so I told them all that we should go to the waterhole at Goas which often has elephant visiting and, if we all sat there really quietly, it was almost certain that we would see elephant coming in there at 12.00.  This suited everyone well as the others could relax and watch the variety of smaller game in the area as well as enjoying sightings of numerous interesting and usual birds which were of no interest to my “elephant man” who just sat there quietly waiting for his elephant to appear.

As noon approached, there was an air of quiet expectancy in the vehicle as the guests turned to me to see how I would handle the fact that there were still no elephant. However, by absolute fluke, and completely on cue, the bushes parted and a huge bull elephant edged his way through on the way down to the water. This was clearly a total coincidence and nothing to do with me, but the guests all looked at me rather differently afterwards and my “elephant man” didn’t say another word for the rest of the day !

Ultimate Safaris - Usko Hanghuwo

Usko Hanghuwo

Background

Usko was born in the small town of Ohangwena in the northern part of Ovamboland (North Central Namibia), where his parents have resided for many years. His family are part of the Oshivambo tribe who are primarily farmers and fall under the Kwanjama sub tribe. As a boy, he helped his parents with crops, collecting livestock from the field and milking the cows. His mother was a manager at a local supermarket, but his dad had to travel away from the village as he worked at Transnamib, Namibia’s national transport company, and he was based in Otjiwarongo on the southern side of Etosha National Park.

Usko attended junior school in Grootfontein, and this was a major shock for him as he had never had running water, electricity or a TV before, and he enjoyed them all enormously. After Grootfontein he completed his primary schooling in Okahandja where he boarded for six years, starting at the very young age of six. During the school holidays he would either head back to the village or make his way to the capital to visit family. These latter visits helped him later on as he attended the Ella Du Plessis High School in Windhoek, close to where he had previously stayed with his family

After completing school, he worked as a graphic designer with his brother for over six years. Although this was a job that could sustain him for the rest of his life, he found he was not an office person and needed to spend more time outside. He was always finding new birds and trees to learn about, and he spent a lot of time looking for a job that would allow him to do that full time. He finally got his chance when offered a position as a trainee guide at Wolwedans on the Namib Rand Nature Reserve so that is where his guiding career started. He then went on to work at a number of other lodges throughout the country until he had gained enough experience to become a National Naturalist Guide

Guiding Experience

Usko went to Wolwedans in 2009 and quickly established himself as a popular guide. He was based there for three years and quickly mastered all aspects of desert guiding. He was also able to focus on the geology of the south, the small mammals and reptiles that inhabit the Namib Desert, and some of the rare and special bird species found in this area. His time here assisted him greatly when he moved further north in the Namib Desert to work at Damaraland Camp. This camp gave him his first encounter with large wildlife, mainly the desert-adapted elephants that roam through this area. He was still able to focus on the geology of the area as that is one of his passions, but he was also able to learn about these amazing large mammals and some of the fascinating details of their behavior.

When he finished his time in Damaraland he had become an accomplished off-road driver as the result of having to negotiate his way through this stark and mountainous terrain. He then moved even further north to Serra Cafema Camp on the bank of the Kunene River where it forms the northernmost point of Namibia.

Usko spent two years there and now also had to learn how to drive a boat, to improve his birding skills, and to have his first experience of ‘cultural’ guiding. He became a stalwart in the local guiding team and was also very popular amongst the people of the local Himba community who he visited on a regular basis with his guests. He mastered the Kunene River system, where there are no large mammals but there is an abundance of bird species to be found along the river. At the same time, he also managed to complete the majority of the required courses with the Namibia Academy of Tourism and Hospitality (NATH)

These NATH courses covered a wide variety of subjects such as ornithology, flora, fauna, politics and history. With these and the experience he had picked up over the last six years, he felt ready to start as a National guide and approached Ultimate Safaris where he was welcomed with enthusiasm.  He has fitted in well as an enthusiastic member of the full time guiding team, and one who invariably gets fantastic reviews from his guests. Usko is a knowledgeable, personable and experienced guide, and he is a pleasure to travel with. 

Personal Interests

Geology, plants, birds and traveling in the areas where these are found.

Why I enjoy guiding

Guiding brings me closer to nature and it allows me to share my fascination over all aspects of with the guests who come out to visit. It also allows me to meet people from all around the world and learn more about them and where they come from

On Trail...

When I was working at Damaraland Camp, we went out early one morning for Rhino tracking at a place called Arikana. I had four guests with me and we were lucky enough to find three Black Rhino fairly quickly, so we settled down to watch them from the thin cover of a single medium seize commiphora tree. Unfortunately, the wind changed direction and the Rhino caught our scent and decided to investigate what was behind the bush that smelled so unusual. This was all a bit alarming and we were trying to work out how close we could let the Rhino get before having to break cover. The Rhino kept coming closer, but they were clearly as jumpy as we were, and not at all sure they wanted to know what was hiding behind the bush.  I told everyone to remain quiet and not move a muscle even though the Rhino were close, but one of the guests lost his nerve and decided he had to get away. Fortunately, I didn’t have to try to stop him as this was at the same time the Rhino also decided they had had enough and needed to get away too. We could hear rocks cracking under their feet as they ran off, and I looked around to see genuine relief in the eyes of those around me as they all took a deep breath and said thank GOD! As we moved away, we found the guy who had run lying flat on the ground behind a Salvadora tree with his hands firmly over his eyes.  At the end this thrilling adventure we were all happy and making fun of each other, and the other guests were particularly harsh with ‘the runner’. However, it was all taken in good heart and the important thing was that no one was hurt – despite what could have happened. 

Ultimate Safaris - Tim Smith

Tim Smith

Background

 

Tim was born in Zimbabwe and he spent his early years exploring the country with his family and developing a fascination with any form of nature. The family left Zimbabwe and migrated to Australia when he was ten so he completed his schooling there, at Alice Springs in central Australia. During his final year of high school, he went on a cricket tour to South Africa and took the opportunity to visit Kruger National Park and this rekindled his passion for the African bush and its wonderful animals.

 

After leaving school, Tim worked in a variety of different fields from glazier to cinema usher - bow tie and all! However, he then learned of training opportunities for field guides in South Africa so he worked three jobs at the same time so he could save enough to fly back to Africa and take part. He started the year long ‘eco training’ course in 2010, working in a number of different locations of the Greater Kruger National Park. At the end of this, he received his Field Guides of Southern Africa (FGASA) qualification and then moved on to Namibia to start getting practical experience from working as a safari guide.

 

Guiding experience


Tim had many opportunities to learn about the bush from experienced trainers during the FGASA eco training course. These skills covered included animal tracking, basic and advanced birding courses with the Lawson’s Birding Academy, rifle handling, and acting as a walking guide in dangerous game areas (trails guide). These newly obtained field skills were quickly put to use and built upon further when he moved Erindi Game Reserve, a large private game reserve in central Namibia. He worked here for five years and ended up as one of their most senior guides dealing mainly with specialist activity drives. This gave him plenty of opportunity to practice his birding skills as well as becoming involved in some of the research programmes run on the Reserve. He also practiced his own photographic skills when taking out groups of specialist wild life photographers and television film crews. During this time at Erindi, Tim also assisted with their programme to reintroduce African wild dog on the Reserve, which met with variable success, and also with their participation in the Global Leopard Project.

 

At the end of his time at Erindi, Tim opted for variety over stability and initially went to work with Wilderness Safaris as a guide at their Serra Cafema on the banks of the Kunene River where it forms Namibia’s northern border with Angola. This is a rugged and remote region where the geology and geography are very different from what he had known at Erindi. This gave scope for learning about a number of new fields, including some fascinating exposure to the nomadic Himba people who also live in this area

 

After Serra Cafema, Tim went on to work for a Botswanan mobile tented safari company operating mostly in the Okavango Delta and Chobe National park. These are both areas with far more water than he was used to as well as higher population densities of large animals such as elephant, buffalo and hippo. This gave yet more opportunity for expanding his knowledge of varied environments, as well as learning about what makes each particularly special and unique. Then, to provide complete coverage of some of the best African tourism   venues that there are, he went off to work on some photographic safaris that were being operated in the Maasai Mara in south western Kenya

 

Tim eventually returned to Namibia with a determination to put all his varied knowledge together and get a post as a national guide who could take guests to all parts of the country. He was introduced to Ultimate safaris by staff members who already worked there and recommended him highly, and quickly became a valued and respected member of their National Naturalist guiding team. The rest, as they say, is history … 

 

Personal interests


Tim has developed a great passion for wildlife photography, as well as gaining considerable skill as a photographer himself. He therefore particularly values a job that takes him to so many different parts of the country where he gets to experience a wide variety of photographic opportunities. He also enjoys sharing his skills and is always happy to offer photographic tutorship to both his colleagues and his friends.

 

Tim also enjoys extending his knowledge of birds although he has already built up a considerable list during his years at Erindi. He is fascinated by reptiles and searching for scorpions, but African wild dogs remain his favorite predator. Cricket is his favorite team sport, and lasagna is his favorite meal

 

Why I enjoy guiding

 

My long term love for exploring the wilderness has given me the knowledge and the opportunity to pass on this enthusiasm to others. I am fascinated by nature and by conservation, so this is the ideal job to allow me to learn more about both as well as ‘giving back’ whenever the opportunity to do so arises. Conservation in Africa is amazing, and the unique aspects of the climate and geology in Namibia make it very special indeed  


On Trail…

 

While out in Erindi with a BBC film crew who were trying to film African Wild Dog behaviour for a kids’ programme called ‘Naomi’s Nightmares of Nature’, we found the resident pack relaxing on an overcast morning with all their pups. As the pups became more restless and starting hinting they wanted food, the pack began to hunt after a routine nuzzling and chitter session. We followed them through the bush for about ten minutes until they located, and started chasing, a herd of large antelopes which turned out to be eland.  Chaos immediately ensued and we temporarily lost sight of both species.

This was in the middle of a drought season when there was lots of dust, but we soon saw a weakened, sick animal tumble down to the ground through the bushes ahead of us. We moved towards it and arrived to a truly incredible scene. A mix of strong emotions overcame us all. Sadness, shock, awe, and enlightenment that this group of an endangered dog species with less than 5000 estimated individuals left on the African continent was going to survive another day. This was all thanks to their opportunist, expert hunter parents and the natural circle of life and death, but it was probably a bit too gory and revealing to be used for a kids program!

Ultimate Safaris - Tarry Butcher

Tarry Butcher

Background

Tarry is a true Namibian. He was born in Windhoek, attended St. George’s Diocesan School and high school at St. Paul’s College. While there, he took part in many outdoor activities including hiking the Fish River Canyon and doing volunteer work for the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in Etosha National Park.

Tarry has always had a keen interest in nature, birds and photography which was inherited from his parents, fostered during family camping holidays, and extended through intensive involvement in the Scouts of Namibia. He started Scouts at the age of seven and went on to become a troop leader and helped to arrange two Cederberg Senior Scout Adventures. He developed his skills further when he went to study at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa where he spent his final year on their Game Ranch Management course. This is where he further extended his knowledge on wildlife and gained even greater understanding of the subject which provides his major graduate qualification.

In addition to his general outdoor interests, Tarry has also always been a keen sportsman. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking, and trekking as well as a number of team sports. He has regularly represented Namibia in the National field hockey team, both indoor and outdoor and he plans to continue doing so (when he has time) for the foreseeable future.

Tarry has traveled all over southern Africa for work and pleasure and this has given him a greater understanding of the relationship between Namibia and its neighbours. He has been working at Ultimate Safaris since 2012 and he has become a specialist in ‘conservation’ safari departures - working with both the Giraffe Conservation Foundation and the Desert Lion Project in some of the most remote areas of the country  

Guiding experience

Tarry took a Gap year after school and spent time working as a river guide for Felix Unite on the Orange River. He started as a basic guide and quickly became an A-rate guide in the year he spent there before leaving to go on to Nelson Mandela University. He studied game ranch and natural resource management and also qualified as a professional hunting guide - although the latter was done in order to learn more about game than to be used.   He did his ‘in-service’ training at Bucklands Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape where he acted as guide, taking guests through thick coastal terrain both on foot and by vehicle to give them a series of close encounters with the wildlife to be found there. This experience gave him greater confidence, and he discovered he had both a talent and a passion for sharing his own knowledge of the local wildlife. He therefore stayed on at the ranch for another eighteen months after completing his training and completed the official FGASA level one and three guiding qualifications. This meant he was officially qualified as a trails guide who was able to take guests on foot into dangerous game areas.

With this expanded experience, Tarry was in a good position to move back to Namibia and joined Ultimate Safaris in 2012. Here he quickly proved he had no problem applying the knowledge gained in South Africa to the Namibian context. He worked with all the more established lead guides before starting to lead his own short tours, but soon proved his worth and moved on to deal with longer safaris with more specialized requirements. When he is not out guiding, he works as the company operations co-ordinator as well as helping on the office where he has taken on the responsibility for promotion in social media etc. He has also added NATH courses needed to convert up his FGASA qualifications to a full Namibian national guide certification.

In early 2015 Tarry spent two months in the Masai Mara when he and another of our guides went up there on a guide exchange. While there, they helped out at an associated safari company which gave them the opportunity to explore the Mara and learn more about both the differences and the similarities between East and Southern Africa. He also had time to increase his birding expertise in a different region of Africa and also gained major experience in wildlife behavior, with both new species and familiar ones. This was a great aid to his guiding toolkit, as he can now make comparisons to an area that many of his travelers have been to.

He has a wide knowledge of fauna and flora, with a specific enthusiasm for birding which he plans to take forward to become a recognised national birding guide. He is also a keen photographer who is always willing to learn more as well as sharing the skills he has already acquired. Overall Tarry is a fun and knowledgeable travelling companion who will push himself to the limit to ensure you have an excellent safari.

Personal Interests

Hockey, sports, traveling, hiking, photography and birds

Why I enjoy guiding

Meeting new people, and working where no trip is the same.

On trail…

While I was working as a volunteer in Etosha National Park, I went out on a game count with colleagues from the Ministry. We were counting zebra from the road in the western part of Etosha, which at that time was an official research area so had restricted access for the public. Not long after leaving a large herd of zebra our vehicle died so one of my colleagues and I climbed out to check the engine, leaving a lady that was with us in the vehicle as a look out. After getting the all clear, we opened the bonnet and bent over to try to resolve the problem. While we were busy, the lady in the car had problems with her contact lenses and decided to change them. She fiddled for a bit and when she looked up with her glasses on, she saw a black rhino charging at the vehicle. She shouted at us to get out of the way and as my colleague was next to a door, he swiftly jumped in. However, I was at the front of the vehicle and had to scramble over the engine to get to safety. Once we all settled we saw the rhino come to a halt, at the exact position where I had been standing so, if I had not moved, I would have far closer contact with a rhino than I would have chosen. I am not sure I would normally have managed this feat of acrobatics, but it’s amazing what a major shot of adrenalin can achieve!

Ultimate Safaris - Ronnie Tsowaseb

Ronnie Tsowaseb

Background

Ronnie comes from a small Damara community near Spitzkoppe, where his father was a livestock farmer. He was born in the nearby town of Usakos and spent much of his childhood exploring the area around Spitzkoppe with his friends and developed his interest in nature from young age. He attended the local primary school before heading off to the coast where he attended a Technical high school and stayed at a hostel.

Ronnie got his first taste of the tourism industry when he started work at the Spitzkoppe rest camp as a receptionist. He enjoyed contact with visitors so much that he soon started leading guided walks to the local sights such as the bushman paintings. He then worked in the fishing industry for a while before deciding this didn’t suit him, so he grabbed the opportunity to take a job with &Beyond working at Sossusvlei Desert Lodge. He stayed with them for eleven years, working his way up through the system and ending up as the senior guide at the lodge.

Having reached his ceiling as a lodge based guide, it was time for another change and the bigger challenge of working as a National guide, so he approached Ultimate Safaris with the hope of being able to join a guiding team he had seen growing in expertise and experience during all the years he worked in the Namib. The knowledge he had gained and his many years of experience when interacting with the discerning guests at the lodge made him an ideal match so he was quickly accepted and has since become a valuable member of the Ultimate Safaris guiding team

Guiding Experience

Guiding at Sossusvlei Desert Lodge for so long allowed Ronnie to become an expert in desert guiding and to pass on the experience he had gained to the others who came to join him. However, it also gave him the opportunities to increase his guiding skills in other areas of Southern Africa where &Beyond operates – as well as attending a number of in house specialist training courses. These courses were run at the well-known luxury lodges of Nkwazi and Phinda in South Africa where he learned even more about general guiding techniques, focusing on guided walking safaris and animal behaviour. Once he completed that training, he went on two guide exchanges, one at Victoria Falls where he was able to learn from some of the best guides in Zimbabwe, and the other a return to Phinda.

This accumulated knowledge and experience was what gave Ronnie the confidence to join some of best guides in Namibia and to find his new guiding home at Ultimate Safaris. His passion for nature and for sharing his experiences with visitors to the country makes Ronnie an ideal guide, with a caring personality and a well-developed sense of humour. All of these characteristics make him a great travelling companion as well as a fount of knowledge which will ensure you enjoy your travels around Namibia with him.

Personal Interests

Birding, reading and soccer

 Why I enjoy guiding

It allows me the opportunity to meet people from different cultures, and to learn from them while also sharing aspects of my own culture with them

On Trail…

During one of my very first trips out on quad bikes on the Northern part of the Namib Rand Nature Reserve, I was working with a group of visitors and quickly realized they spoke very limited English. I sat down with them over a cup of coffee and did my activity briefing, but had the strong feeling that they were not understanding to a word I said. Before we finally set off, I went through the safety briefing again just to be sure I got the message across, but a lot of the communication still had to be done by sign language.

The first half an hour went by and all was going well, so I relaxed and thought the rest would run smoothly. Not long after that, I looked over my shoulder and realized that none of the guests were following me, although in the distance was a cloud of dust which showed me where they were. I then realized that, despite all I had said, the guests had decided to go off road and chase an oryx over the gravel plains. I had to race to catch up with them, and when I did I was able to stop them and prevent them from harassing the wildlife any further. This was a very scary experience and I learnt some valuable lessons about differing values as the guests were unable to see why what they had done was wrong. This showed me that any assumptions that are made with people who come from different backgrounds are potentially dangerous, and also that it is essential to be sure that guests have local the situation explained in a way that makes sense to them – even if this requires the enlistment of a proper interpreter 

Ultimate Safaris - Franco Morao

Franco Morao

Background

Franco was born on a remote farm on the outskirts of Gobabis in eastern Namibia and he was taken into the SOS Children’s Village in Windhoek at the age of two. He stayed here until he completed secondary school in 2002. By a stroke of great fortune, and with impeccable timing, the Children's Home was approached by a charitable institution called “Children in the Wilderness” who offered to take some of the kids out into the wilderness to experience natural wonders of their country. The group selected included a young, ambitious and eager Franco whose enthusiasm and passion for the natural world was apparent from the moment the bus full of joyful kids arrived in Sossusvlei. After being trained in basic mentorship skills, he was enlisted as a tent leader and was inspired by watching the camp guides at work. He knew immediately what he wanted to do in future and was determined to achieve this aim.

He enrolled for a four-year bachelor’s degree course in 2003 but soon realized that his passion lay with nature and being outdoors so he quit after just six months and went to join Wilderness Safaris. He worked at a variety of lodges as a local field guide and then graduated to join their overland explorations department in 2014. Franco took this experience on when he joined Ultimate Safaris as a National guide and he now lives in Windhoek with his wife, who also works for Ultimate Safaris, and their young son and daughter.

Guiding Experience

Franco started as a trainee guide in 2004, and learnt his trade at a variety of camps before being appointed as a full-time guide in 2006. He later went on to work as an advanced level guide on the Ongava Private Game Reserve, but first had to learn weapons proficiency and how to conduct guided walks in a ‘big game area’ which he did on excellent guide training courses in both Zambia and Botswana. Afterwards continued with his Namibian National guiding courses until he obtained his National Guiding Certificate in 2012.

He has worked near most of the iconic hotspots in Namibia including Sossusvlei, Damaraland, Etosha National Park, the Skeleton Coast, and by the Kunene. While there, he gained intimate knowledge of the surrounding areas and has put that to good use since becoming a National guide. He then acted as guide on a number of exclusive fly-in safari expeditions before deciding to join the Ultimate Safaris Naturalist guiding team. He is now a full time Naturalist guide with a great passion for our remote camps.

Personal Interests

Franco is passionate about his work and he loves socializing and meeting new people. He enjoys exercising and outdoor activities, and he has become a keen birder as well as an accomplished photographer. The combination of skills acquired over the years and an engaging personality which allows great empathy with his guests make Franco a highly-sought after private guide.

Why I enjoy guiding

Through my choice of career, I can have my office almost anywhere I like, and I also get to meet a lot of different people who are all fascinating to talk to. I always like being surprised by Mother Nature in all aspects and I really enjoy being able to share those moments with my guests - as well as being able to see their reactions. This is what keeps me motivated and enthusiastic all day and every day.

On Trail...

While on a drive in one of the ephemeral rivers up in northwest Namibia, we came across a herd of desert adapted elephants. We followed them for about twenty minutes, observing their behavior and the way they were able to move so silently through the bush and then, as they went through one of the salvadora bushes, they flushed out two cheetahs, a mother and her sub adult cub. We were so surprised that we just watched them run across and disappear and none of us thought about taking pictures. We all got out from the vehicle shortly afterwards and we saw them walking off at a distance with all the springbok and oryx looking at them. I decided this would be the perfect time to have a coffee break so I laid the table with all the goodies and all had their cups of coffee close to their mouths when, within 50 yards of us, a honey badger mom trotted with her baby in her mouth. She was trying to relocate it and, again, we were all frozen in that moment of awe. We all just stood there silently, watching her disappear and looking at each other, trying to come to terms of what just happened. It was a truly memorable day which none of us are ever likely to be able to repeat. 

Ultimate Safaris - Peter Nuugonya

Peter Nuugonya

Background

Peter Nuugonya comes is from a village near the populous town of Ondangwa in the part of Namibia that lies to the north of Etosha National Park.  He proved to be a good student when at primary school and did particularly well in science – especially Biology which he found fascinating. As a result, his big dream at the time was to become a doctor. He completed his schooling very successfully at Nehale Senna Secondary School near Ondangwa but, unfortunately, he wasn’t able to go on to tertiary education due to financial constraints.

Peter moved to Otjiwarongo in 2003 and stayed with one of his father’s relatives while looking for work. He got his first job at the local company called responsible for clearing the bushes alongside the roads and that’s where he got to learn more about calls for animals and birds – although it was also a big bonus to have grown up in the bush and learned many animal tracks as a youngster. While this was all interesting enough, Peter always kept up with friends and family in the hope of finding employment that would suit his skills and interests better

Guiding experience

Peter got his first major break when we was taken on by CCAfrica at given a job at Sossusvlei Desert Lodge in the Namib Rand Nature Reserve, on the eastern margins of the Namib Desert.  He started working as a barman, but his potential was quickly recognised so he was moved to the workshop and soon started doing back-ups for the senior guides on the desert quad bike experiences offered by the lodge into the red dunes of the Namib.  Right away, he realised that guiding was a career that he would enjoy, so he started to develop his guiding skills further.

After doing some assessment modules in guiding, Peter was selected to go to the CCAfrica in-house guide training programme at the Phinda Private Game Reserve in South Africa. Here he learned about wildlife beyond that found in the desert that he’d already become familiar with, and he developed a number of good core guiding skills. He then returned to work as a full time guide back at Sossusvlei Desert Lodge which is situated in one of the most scenically attractive parts of Namibia.

While working at there, he spent a lot of time with the lodge’s volunteer astronomers and developed his own knowledge to the degree that he often ran astronomy sessions to guests at the lodge using the high powered telescope that is located there. He also had the chance to visit other lodges belonging to the company, and did a trip to Botswana for three weeks in 2015, where he got to see the Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park, the Moremi and Savuti game reserves, thus providing him with another great chance to learn more about fauna and flora beyond the desert.

While guiding in the desert over many years, Peter had the opportunity to develop his interest in birding, star gazing, photography, and overall nature but, after ten years, he felt it was time to broaden his knowledge and move his career onto wider stage. He therefore joined a new ‘family’ at Ultimate Safaris where he had the opportunity to travel more extensively around the country and to develop his guiding skills on a National rather than regional basis. He has now become a part of the strongest guiding team in Namibia and has had the opportunity to travel to all parts of Namibia as a true Naturalist guide.

Personal interests

Meeting new people, Astronomy, Birding, and Desert Ecology

Why I enjoy guiding

Peter loves learning about a wide variety of subjects and thoroughly enjoys sharing this knowledge with the guests who travel with him – while also learning from them about the very different world that they live in

On Trail…

Astronomy has been a significant part of the experience at Sossusvlei Desert Lodge since the lodge opened, and much of the experience that allows guests to take advantage of staying in ‘dark sky zone’ is brought by volunteer astronomers from all over the world.  I was lucky enough to travel around the country with a visiting volunteer astronomer on an extended tour of Namibia in 2008, and this allowed me to see the country through very different eyes and to understand why it is such an appealing destination for star gazers – especially when away from the towns and other sources of ambient light. This gave me an enthusiasm for star gazing in addition to the more normal safari interests, and I have always found that guests enjoy learning about the night skies, even if this is not something they had given much thought to before starting their safari. I have had many challenging evenings as a result, as guests’ own enthusiasm for star gazing often increases during the course of a safari and their questions become more difficult to answer. I have normally been able to rise to this challenge, but some questions require a professional astronomer to answer them and I am afraid I am not there yet... 

Ultimate Safaris - Perez Kamukuenjandje

Perez Kamukuenjandje

Background

Perez was born in the north eastern part of Namibia and, although his parents originated from different parts of the country, he grew up in a large family of Herero speakers. He attended Pioneers Boys School in Windhoek and left there to go directly into the tourism industry. He started work as a barman at Kulala Desert Lodge near Sossusvlei and this gave him his first exposure to the beauty of the Namib Desert – and to international tourists.

As he enjoyed learning about the desert environment and he is especially good with people, he very quickly found himself moving into the field of guiding and spent the next three years on that and constantly improving his knowledge. After that, he moved to work at CC Africa (now &Beyond) where he started as a Camp Captain setting up mobile camps ready for the arrival of guests. As before, his obvious capacity for interaction with people from all walks of life meant he quickly got drawn back into becoming a guide / ranger who escorted guests around the country.

When the programme he had been working on was cancelled in 2007, Perez worked as a freelance guide for a year then joined Ultimate Safaris in 2008. Since then he has extended his knowledge into all parts of Namibia and also into parts of neighbouring countries; he has gained hugely in experience and exposure to a wide variety of discerning visitors; and he has completed a number of the formal Namibian National guide training courses that are available.

Perez is a natural entertainer who is in great demand as many of those that have travelled with him return for a second (or third) safari – but only on the condition that he can be their guide again. Perez has great knowledge of the natural world which he loves to share with his guests, and the lively intelligence and wit that makes him a fascinating guide and travelling companion. He receives unequivocal top rating from former guests for his guiding skills and his company when travelling, and he has shown particular interest in travelling outside Namibia. He has taken several groups through the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park as well as bringing guests up from Cape Town, and dropping others in Livingstone or Victoria Falls. He is a great enthusiast who has proved to be a significant asset to the company. Perez lives with his long-time girlfriend and children, a son and daughter. He has a great involvement with his children and tries to pass on his own love for nature and the environment.

Guiding Experience

Perez started guiding at Kulala Desert Lodge and his personality ensured that he was fast tracked to becoming a full time guide. His great sense of humour and his ability to absorb a large amount of knowledge meant that he soon became head guide for the area and went off to train at Kaporota where he achieved his level 1 FAGASA qualification.

He then moved to CC Africa, where he acted as camp captain in recognition of his organisational ability and his skills in relating to a wide variety of people. He was then sent to attend a training course at Nkwazi in South Africa where he learned even more about general guiding techniques, focusing on guided walking safaris and animal behaviour. As he now had a deep knowledge of desert guiding and eight years’ worth of guiding experience, he decided to take the next step and move his guiding career onto the National level. He therefore moved to Windhoek where he took freelance guiding work that took him to new parts of the country while he worked out exactly where he wanted to settle. At the end of that he came to join Ultimate Safaris.

Perez is now one of the most sought after guides with a following of former visitors who stay in regular touch with him, many of whom return to travel with him again. In the meantime, he is ‘on the road’ and gathering more and more information, while also ensuring that he is up to date on new finds and reports about Namibia and its wildlife.

Personal Interests

Birds, animals and nature

Why I enjoy guiding

I love meeting new people and showing them our beautiful country

On trail…

When out on safari as a guide you see many fascinating aspects of wildlife and nature, but there will always be one that sticks in your mind. Mine shows the lengths that elephants and other animals will go to in order to survive. While driving in the Hoanib River in the North West of Namibia, I noticed elephant tracks leaving the river bed and heading up a valley which got very narrow and steep. I decided to follow them to see where they led and I soon got to a point where the vehicle could go no further so I continued to follow the tracks on foot. They went up into a ravine which shortly turned into a watershed by a steep mountain face. The tracks continued and as I looked up, I saw elephants on the watershed having a dust bath. I continued my way up to the watershed and I saw the elephants had moved down into the next valley, but that was not all that I saw. There was another reason why they had climbed this steep mountain and left their tracks were all over the place, even up sheer cliffs that came up to my chest. This was to chew on the Commiphora plants on the side of the mountain. There were remains of plants everywhere, some of which had been ripped up, chewed on and spat out. For some reason they needed to get something from this plant into their diet and were prepared to climb this mountain to do so. This sort of behaviour has always absolutely fascinated me. 

Ultimate Safaris - Nestor Nghuunduka

Nestor Nghuunduka

Background

Nestor comes from the Northern part of Namibia where he grew up in a traditional family who lived in a small village within Ovamboland. Both his parents are from the Oshiwambo tribe and Nestor still follows many of the cultural practices of his ancestors. He went to a local primary school at Eembahu and his parents then decided to send him on to high school in the western part of the country in a small town called Arandis near Swakopmund on the coast.

After completing his schooling, he took some time off in search of work before joining the Desert Academy where he was first exposed to the tourism industry. After completing the course there he joined &Beyond (when it was still called CC Africa) and worked at their Namibian property, Sossusvlei Desert Lodge. After a good stint at the lodge he decided to expand his guiding career and left the lodge in search of more experience in other parts of the country before joining the Ultimate Safaris family.

Nestor’s wife is a Namibian who lived in the UK for many years in the UK when she was working with a London based tour operator. They got together whenever possible with Nestor going to London and his then girlfriend coming to Namibia, but she decided to return full time and now lives in Windhoek, where she still works for the same company as a Windhoek based consultant.

He also has five children who he is very close to, and he cherishes his relationship with them. Being based in Windhoek between safaris means that he gets to see more of his children than previously, and he still relishes the opportunity to take them out to explore other parts of the country – especially now his wife is now based here and able to go with them too.

Guiding Experience

Nestor has worked his entire career in the tourism industry and has a great passion for sharing his knowledge of the country with the people that come to visit it. He was first entranced by the industry when he joined the Desert Academy, which gave him a taste in all the different sectors involved and he knew from the start that he wanted to be a guide so continued training in that field. Once qualified, he joined &Beyond at Sossusvlei Desert Lodge and spent the next eleven years there gathering valuable knowledge about the Namib Desert and all it entails.

During his time at Sossusvlei Desert Lodge he grew as a guide and became a popular figure at the lodge as well as one who was respected for his guiding knowledge. As part of his guiding development he was sent to Nkwazi in South Africa which is a very hands on guiding school, and this gave him a chance to learn other aspects of his profession. Nestor had then reached the point in his career where he wanted to expand his scope to becoming a National guide but as his knowledge was so specialized in the desert he needed to go to learn more about other areas.

As a result, he took a temporary job as a lodge based guide for Wilderness Safaris and spent most of that time in the north west of the country. Here, he obtained intimate knowledge a completely different area and its inhabitants when based at Damaraland Camp and Desert Rhino Camp. While there he experienced a new side of Namibia and learnt about the North West and how to deal with animals whilst on foot, especially when tracking desert adapted black rhino.

In early 2015, Nestor added a new experience when he travelled up to Tanzania to help deliver vehicles for conversion and then spent two months working as a guide in the Masai Mara on a guide exchange program. Having now explored and got to know the most interesting parts of Namibia, this was a great experience as he can now draw on experiences he had in East Africa and make easy comparisons for his guests. Nestor gained great confidence from this and the experience only added his already considerable guiding abilities. Already an integral part of the Ultimate Safaris team, Nestor continues to grow as a guide. He has expanded his experience and knowledge even further and he is already a highly sought after guide for guests to travel with.

Personal Interests

The Southern region of Namibia, Birding, Geology and Culture.

Why I enjoy guiding

Having the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life and informing them about my wonderful country and all it has to offer.

On Trail…

One of my scariest but most memorable stories whilst guiding happened when I was still guiding on the Namib Rand Nature Reserve. I stopped next to a rocky outcrop where we often took a break for tea and as my guests and as I climbed out of the vehicle we saw a leopard on the rocks. I could hardly believe my eyes especially as the leopard disappeared very quickly – but then so did one of the guests who was an avid photographer. He had set off up the rocks to get a better photograph of the leopard so I started running after him and I was still making my way there when I saw the leopard making its way towards him from a small crevice in the rocks.

I caught up to the photographer and pushed him down to the side and at the same time grabbed the tripod he had with him. I was able to scare the leopard off, but only by throwing the tripod towards it. As we both gathered ourselves afterwards, we noticed that this was a female leopard that had a cub with her so all she was doing was trying to protect the cub. This was a scary experience that taught me nature will always surprise you, no matter how well you think you know an area, and that you should always respect it.

Ultimate Safaris - Johann Cloete

Johann Cloete

Background

Johann comes from a small town in the south of Namibia called Keetmanshoop.  This is where he grew up with an older brother and a younger sister, with the bush just a stone’s throw away from town – and that is where he spent most of his time after school and on the weekends.

On completing high school, he went to the Polytechnic of Namibia to study for a diploma in Electronic Engineering.  However, he was unable to renew his bursary after his first year of studies so had to leave and go out to look for a job. He started working as a trainee technician at Telecom Namibia, and then went on to become a teller at the Commercial Bank of Namibia. Fortunately, he was not satisfied with either of these professions as he felt his calling was elsewhere – and it turned out that his heart was set on being able to explore nature. The bush was calling!

Johann has a long term partner, and he splits his time between the south of Namibia and Windhoek.  He has a quiet nature, and loves to share the wonders of the bush and the desert with his guests.

Guiding experience

Johann joined Wilderness Safaris as a trainee in 2006 and he spent the next year on a variety of different training programs until he decided to settle on guiding and joined the Wilderness Safaris guiding team in 2007.  He started his guiding career in the Kulala camps near Sossusvlei, later moving to Damaraland area where he worked in different camps like Doro Nawas, Damaraland Camp and ultimately Desert Rhino Camp. Over the years, he continued attending training programs with Wilderness Safaris and doing guide courses with NATH (The Namibian Academy for Tourism and Hospitality) until he decided it was time to broaden his horizons beyond any specific lodge and join the Ultimate Safaris team of National Guides.

Johann’s vast experience in the north-west means that he is an acknowledged expert on the rare and endangered black rhinos that inhabit that region, and he has become a very valuable resource when passing on his expertise about black rhino and their behavioural patterns to the rest of our guiding team.

Personal interests

Astronomy, Tracking and learning more about them as well as everything in between!

Why I enjoy guiding

I like to explore and discover new things with guests while still being able to show them what it is that I find so exciting about Namibia, its environment, and its inhabitants.

On Trail…

On a rhino tracking expedition in Damaraland, we spotted a black rhino in the distance but, when we got closer to where it had been, we discovered that it had moved on. However, I was not prepared to give up on this so I asked one of the trackers to stay with the guests and rest, while I went on with the others to climb a small hill. This worked well as we spotted the rhino resting just a short distance off. 

I kept watch while one of the trackers went back to get the guests and the rest of the team.  While he was gone, I took my backpack off and sat down to watch the rhino. When I saw the rest of the group approaching the rhino from down the hill, I went to pick up my backpack in preparation for joining them. As I turned to get it, I suddenly noticed a leopard crawling towards me, and only about 25 meters away.  On making eye contact, I moved my backpack across my stomach and chest to provide extra protection if necessary, and slowly took out my jacket from my backpack and raised it in order to look bigger and more intimidating.

The leopard remained in a crouched position for a while longer, then raised itself and gave me a lateral pose, showing off his impressive size and giving an intimidating growl. Seeing it was still making up its mind, I gave a “controlled” shout in order to convince it that I was not suitable prey. It eventually started to move off slowly, and then suddenly disappeared altogether.

So, the lesson I learned from this was be persistent, but to remain vigilant – especially when concentrating on a single sighting as there is nothing at all to say that what I am watching will be the only animals of interest around 

Ultimate Safaris - Jason Nott

Jason Nott

Background

Jason comes from a well-known family of Namibian “Nature Conservators” who have been very involved in development issues in the country for decades. The Nott family first came to “South West Africa” in the early 80’s to work for the South African administration in Nature Conservation, and they stayed on after Independence in 1990 when they all opted to take Namibian Citizenship. They have continued to work on conservation and community development issues, mainly in the north of the country, ever since.

Jason spent his early years in the small town of Omaruru where he was instilled with a love of nature from an early age. He took every opportunity to be outdoors, either with his parents or his godfather, Dr Flip Stander, who has become well-known for his veterinary work and scientific research on Namibia’s desert lions. He gained great knowledge and expertise through being with them as they worked, and he has added to this experience with his own book learning as he is also an avid reader of any publications on the subject.

As he also enjoys working with people, he soon found a way of combining both interests through running his own safaris and then getting more heavily involved in the tourism industry. He studied to get his diploma in Travel and Tourism management, and then started his formal career off in lodge management when he ran a lodge in north-western Namibia. While he was there, he found his way to his true joy, sharing the wonders of the more remote areas of Namibia with visitors – and that is why he became a safari guide.

He is now working at Ultimate Safaris where he has found a way to continue his professional guiding career while still being able to ‘give back’ to conservation and sustainable tourism. As his background and interests were ideally suited to this, Jason has been entrusted with helping to run the Conservation Travel Foundation, Ultimate Safaris’ non-profit registered trust, which is involved in several humanitarian and conservation initiatives around the country.  He also uses part of his former experience to manage the mobile (under canvas) safari department at the company, ensuring the mobile camps run smoothly and efficiently whilst in the field and controlling the operations of the semi-permanent Under Canvas camps.

Jason is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable birder, although not yet quite able to claim that he is a specialist guide in the field, and he is an accomplished photographer. He is very personable and brings his passion for his country across to his guests, leaving them an abiding love for Namibia and its various inhabitants. He met his wife, Amber, out in the field when she was on a ‘study abroad’ program as part of her degree in Zoology. They now live in Windhoek and Amber is working at the Opuwo Processing Facility (a community-based project that deals harvesting and processing of natural plants into essential oils). Both of them have a passion for wildlife and its protection, and a strong belief that this is best achieved through the development of communities. They also have a passion for travel, having journeyed extensively through Africa, mainland Europe, UK, USA and parts of Asia.

Guiding Experience

Jason’s enthusiasm for protecting the environment was part of his up-bringing. He witnessed the effects of protecting land resources through tourism, and saw the development of rural conservancies at first hand. He then went away for a GAP year in England, returning to run his first private safari for pupils from the school had been working at. This was at the tender age of 19 while also still studying Travel and Tourism management at a local university.

He then went on to fine tune his guiding skills while working at Palmwag Lodge in Damaraland. He quickly proved his competence there and soon became the lodge manager while also taking on the training of local guides. Since leaving Palmwag, he has continued to guide a variety of trips, ranging from camping to more upmarket fly-in safaris. Jason has a great understanding of the conservation and sustainability issues concerned in the development of the country and this allows him to look further into the natural environment than just identifying the fauna and flora.

Jason also has many existing relationships with local communities that he has worked with all over the northwest, and this means that any guests he takes in to visit these communities are treated as family friends rather than just as visiting tourists.  He is also an interesting and informative travelling companion so, by the end of any safari guided by him, you will have a greater understanding and love of the country that he calls home as well as having had an unforgettable experience.

Personal Interests

Birding, Conservation, Sports, Camping, and Traveling (preferably with my wife)

Why I enjoy guiding

One of the greatest pleasures is showing a visitor something new and fascinating about the country I love, and guiding is my tool for doing this.

On Trail…

I have many fond memories of lion encounters, especially when out in the field with Flip Stander, but there is one that will always stick out in my mind. This is the time that I really gained my respect for these wonderful animals and I will always admire their strength and beauty. We were on a school trip hike through the Palmwag concession, and decided to take a major detour so we could have a swim is some natural springs. We were approaching the spring quite fast as we made our way up the gorge it was located in and the closer we got the more lion tracks we saw, and all of a sudden there were lion cub tracks too – lots of them.

Before we even knew what was happening, there was a rustle in the bushes and out came a female lion charging out at us. As she approached us standing in a line, we just froze. She then hit on the brakes and skidded towards us and, as the dust settled and my eyes cleared, directly in front of me was the head of a female lion just an arm’s length away. As she stared me straight in the eyes, my outlook on lions changed in an instant. She walked up and down the line disdainfully then made her way back to the bush after collecting her cubs, and they all ran off into the distance. This was how I realized what great and magnificent animals they really were – and I was just 13 at the time!

Ultimate Safaris - Francois Gowaseb

Francois Gowaseb

Background

Francois was born in Windhoek, where he spent the majority of his childhood. His father was a well-respected businessman and the president of the National Small Miners Association before he passed away. His mother, originally from the small town of Otjimbingwe, where she studied to become a pastor, is now a minister at a Pentecostal Church in Windhoek.

Francois developed a passion for nature during his holidays on the farm near Otjimbingwe and he went on to study Travel and Tourism at a local College. After graduation, he decided to specialize in guiding in order to be able to share his love for the country and its inhabitants with guests coming in from overseas to experience the splendor of Namibia for themselves. He therefore went on to attend guide the training courses offered by NATH (Namibian Association of Travel and Hospitality) where he received the top level guiding certificate, which then qualified him to act as a National guide within Namibia.

Guiding Experience

Francois has worked for a variety of tourism enterprises and this has given him extensive experience of some of the most iconic areas of the country, including the Kalahari Desert, Damaraland and Etosha National Park. He has also worked as a national guide specializing in camping safaris which took visitors through some of the more remote areas of the country and  allowed him to get to know areas beyond those he had got used to when working as a resident lodge guide

Once he had obtained the general experience he required to become a specialist naturalist guide he approached Ultimate Safaris to see if his profile would work with their way of doing things. Fortunately, it did, and Francois was able to take the opportunity to interact with the sort of guests who he believed would most appreciate the insights he could provide on the experiences they would have when on safari. This worked out extremely well for all concerned and he has shown the confidence and enthusiasm required to provide excellent safari experiences with extremely positive feedback from the guests he has taken out to travel with him.

Francois is a professional, personable, and caring guide who has fitted in extremely well with the pre-existing team of guides at Ultimate Safaris, and he has proved to be an absolute delight to travel with. His hospitable nature and his genuine concern for those in his care is supplemented by a very engaging personality and the willingness to give of himself in things like the occasional serenading of visitors at some of the lodges they stay at.

Personal Interests

Francois has a real passion for music and he plays both keyboard and the guitar very well. He enjoys little more than playing for others while sitting and relaxing about the camp fire, but he also enjoys travelling himself as well as the varying types of wildlife he gets to see when doing so

Why I enjoy guiding

I have discovered that I really enjoy sharing what I know of the country and its natural inhabitants with visitors who have come to experience what we are lucky enough to see every day. I also enjoy learning about other places from the people I travel with – and that is what I like most about guiding – “It connects me to the world and it connects the world to me”

On trail...

I was in the middle of a two week safari and my guests and I were in Damaraland with our main focus on finding the desert adapted elephants we wanted to observe. We therefore headed out early one morning, with a picnic box packed, and went to the last area that the elephants had been seen. When we got there, the only thing we could find was old footprints and dung, so the search began. We spent the entire day following footprints in the sand with absolutely no success, and we decided to give up on the search and head back to camp in the late afternoon. About halfway back to camp we came across a troop of baboons and stopped to watch them for a while as we had had no other significant sightings all day.

While we were sitting there we heard some cracking of branches and before I could do anything about it, we were surrounded by an entire herd of the elephants we had been searching for all day. We were now right in the middle of the herd, which is not where we would normally want to be but everyone, including the elephant remained completely relaxed so we were all able to sit back and enjoy a truly memorable and very unique experience. After spending some 45 minutes among these peaceful giants, we spotted a gap where we could get out without causing any disturbance and head back to camp.

It was one of the most awe inspiring interactions I have ever had with elephants and it showed just how amazing these gentle giants are as, despite their bulk, they can swiftly disappear in the desert environment and appear again when you least expect it. 

Ultimate Safaris - Richard Zaayman

Richard Zaayman

Background

Richard was born in the mining town of Tsumeb which is located in the Central bushveld area of Namibia. However, he went down to South Africa with his parents at a fairly early age and attended school there. After finishing school in Calvinia, South Africa, he felt the need for space and returned to the vastness of his birth country. A natural talent and passion for music saw him travelling through large parts of the country to bring life to others through regular, and very popular, musical performances. This also honed his other skills as an excellent communicator with a true understanding of the diverseness of people and characters. However, he always had a passion for nature and the bushveld as well so soon changed direction to follow the call of the wild.

Guiding Experience

When he first came back to Windhoek, Richard took a job in sales but soon discovered that he was not an ‘office’ person and spent as much time travelling as could manage. During these years, he had the opportunity to learn more about different parts of the country and its inhabitants, and he also started to build up an interest in birds and quickly expanded his knowledge about the ones he observed during his travels. 

It wasn’t long before he decided that he wanted to work full time in a natural environment so looked for opportunities to do so and he managed to get a job at Okonjima Lodge as a field guide. This went well and he was soon selected to take up responsibilities as manager of one of their premium accommodation venues in addition to acting as occasional guide for the guests staying there. He is an avid learner so had quickly picked up all the necessary skills to be able to guide on all trail experiences on offer within his first few months. His instinctive knowledge of animal behavior helped him make many guests’ African dream come through by taking them in to view leopards, approaching cheetah and rhino on foot, and experiencing the thrill of being with wild dogs on foot. He also gained a passion for conservation and the preservation of the Namibian environment.

While in the bush he developed a new interest in photography. His keen eye developed quickly and he soon started contributing images to the company and sharing his sightings with fellow enthusiasts on various social media platforms, while also contributing towards the marketing efforts of Okonjima. After five years of guiding at Okonjima, he was offered the opportunity to change track and broaden his horizons by becoming a National overland guide. With a passion for people and the environment he is well on his way to bringing the experience of the real Namibia to all his guests.

Personal Interest

Richard still has a deep passion for both music and nature. Combining the two is evident in one of his favorite quotes: “The earth has music for those who listen” (William Shakespeare). He also loves hosting, meeting new people and being able to share experiences. Richard is also a self-taught photographer and is always on the lookout for any great photo opportunity – especially one that tells an interesting story. 

Why I enjoy guiding

Guiding gives me the opportunity to get out in the more remote areas of the country and to share my own passions with the people who travel with me. Watching their interest grow as they learn more about what they are seeing during the course of any safari has always been a matter of intense satisfaction for me

On Trail…

I have been very fortunate to have had a wide variety of wildlife sightings while working at Okonjima, some of the most memorable involving the leopard that we went out to track on an almost daily basis. However, the most remarkable sighting I have ever had was when we found an adult female pangolin with her pup clinging to her back while foraging around the area of her burrow. This is something we had never seen before so we spent a considerable time just sitting and observing to see what she would do next. Much to our surprise the pup stayed on her back for an extended period until she moved out of sight and headed back home. I don’t know whether many others have ever seen anything like this, but it was certainly a ‘first’  for me and I 

Why travel with an Ultimate naturalist guide?

An Ultimate Safaris naturalist guide will quickly turn a normal safari into a life enriching journey, creating a deeper understanding and appreciation for the incredible places and people that we visit. The guides are the link between our guests and the intricacies of the natural world, sharing their knowledge with enthusiasm and humour. Guests are taken on a journey through some of the world’s most beautiful wild places, encountering wildlife spectacles and engaging with age-old authentic cultures while receiving detailed interpretation as offered by our highly trained naturalist guides. Throughout this experience, they are wrapped in the warm and caring hospitality that makes us Ultimate Safaris.

A guided safari offers our guests constant access to one or more of these exceptional guides who have an intimate knowledge of each camp/lodge and area we visit. This allows them to be able to expose the relevant highlights, adding continuity and depth to your safari, and effectively tailor-making your experience. It also means that they are able to take guests to stay at less sophisticated rural venues which might not otherwise be suitable for discerning visitors. The presence of our guide adds another level to the hospitality and service that can be offered there and thus ensures that we have the widest reach of options available to us while still maintaining the standards to which we aspire.

Our guides share in a philosophy that ensures they never cease adding to their encyclopedic knowledge and this makes them lifelong scholars in the fields of their expertise. Their infectious enthusiasm, dedication, character, and in-depth knowledge of the country ensure that guests are at the forefront of real, unique and authentic experiences throughout their journey. Being native to Namibia, our guides are welcomed as friends or family everywhere they go, thus ensuring authentic and life enriching journeys. These often result in guests becoming personal friends of both our guides and the people that they visit.


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Ultimate Safaris is privileged to be able to operate in pristine wilderness areas. We believe that the future of the environment and the natural inhabitants of these regions lies in the hands of the communities living there, and that this means they must be involved in the custodianship of their surroundings. The Conservation Travel Foundation is Ultimate Safaris’ registered non-profit organisation and it fully supports these ideals.

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