We think three foundations are vital to create the perfect safari: a host of wildlife, a great camp, and the quality of your hosts.
On each game drive, that host is a highly experienced, knowledgeable and fully qualified ranger. Each has been hand-picked as much for his good nature as love of nature: if you are to spend time together, you need someone who is just as interested in people as he is insightful about animals.
We are extremely proud of our rangers, each of whom speaks fluent English and never stops adding to the breadth and depth of their knowledge through study and exams. It is astonishing what these experts can find, hidden among the vast expanses of the Serengeti. All our rangers know every inch of the terrain. Being permanently stationed in the Serengeti, they know where the game can be found, and share hour-by-hour information on where the best viewing opportunities lie.
We also employ local Kuria spotters to augment our rangers’ eyes and ears. Seated at the back of each vehicle, these local tribesmen use binoculars but also their innate skills and powers of observation to detect movements, spoor and other signs of hidden animals. These young men are superb spotters, and by employing them we save them (and local wildlife) from their only other form of income: poaching. In this way, everyone wins: Bushtops gains local expertise; the Tanzanian authorities minimise poaching; you benefit from the sharpest human senses on the Serengeti (no one knows the bush better than those who have spent days on foot searching for prey); the Kuria get a fruitful and sustainable livelihood; and wildlife is left safe from human predators.
Gordon is our head ranger. The holder of a silver level KPSGA accreditation, he has almost 20 years’ experience as a wildlife guide, across the Serengeti but also the Masai Mara and Laikipia in northern Kenya. Gordon specialises in ornithology and enjoys leading walking safaris across big game country. His love for nature began at school, when he joined the wildlife clubs of Kenya. He became (and is still) a member of the East African natural history society based at the Nairobi Museum. Having been trained as a ranger in South Africa, Gordon helped establish the first guides’ training school in the Serengeti.
Deus has been part of our Serengeti Bushtops team since 2010, when we opened the new camp. A Tanzanian native, he was born in the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro, starting his career as a porter for mountain climbers. Having gained an appetite for guiding, he attended the Sanawari professional guiding school. Having graduated as a guide, Deus has added useful experience as a driver-ranger across different parks, especially the southern and northern Serengeti, developing a particular admiration for local birds and big cats.
Kokan has also been with us at Serengeti Bushtops from the start (June 2010). A member of the Masai, he is married with two children. A member of the Tanzania Tour Guide Association, Kokan has accumulated more than 12 years’ experience working in different national parks, favouring the southern and northern Serengeti in particular, and guiding WWF projects at Lake Manyara, the Ngorongoro Conservation area and across the Serengeti. He is happy to share a vast knowledge of wildlife and knows Tanzania like the back of his hand (actually, rather better: how well could you describe the back of your hand?!).
Jaffrey comes from the Tanzanian coast, but was trained as a tour guide at Mount Meru Tour Guiding college. Having worked as a professional guide in northern and southern Tanzania, he has accumulated years of practical experience. He has a particular interest and ability in the field of animal and birdlife behaviour and is also highly knowledgeable about the history of East and Central Africa. Jaffery was also lucky to have worked with Jean du Plessis, a wildlife expert featured in a series of National Geographic Wildlife documentaries. Married with one child, Jaffery speaks excellent German.
Like his fellow ranger, Birdi Godson was trained as a guide at the Mount Meru Tour Guiding school. Clearly he impressed: upon graduation he was asked to work as a trainer, instructing others on tour guiding and associated skills. Subsequently this married father of two has added years of practical professional expertise, guiding park visitors across northern Tanzania. He is particularly good at identifying animal tracks – especially elephant. All this experience has been built on a prior career working as a miner at the Geita Gold mines in Shinyanga Province. Perhaps his current freedom above ground explains Birdi’s enthusiasm for the life of a ranger.
Peter joined the Serengeti Bushtops team in 2012, and has now built a decade’s experience as a ranger, working across Tanzanian national parks. He has a profound knowledge of the southern and northern Serengeti and a deep love of its flora and fauna. Peter graduated with an African Wildlife Management accreditation (MWEKA) and is a member of Mali Hai, a club devoted to care for the green environment. A Masai, Peter is married with one child.
Simon also joined us in 2012, having trained in wildlife and tourism management. Over recent years he has worked across the Serengeti national park, but also in Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Mkomazi and Ngorogoro. With additional learning gleaned from his time in Kenya’s Masai Mara and Amboseli parks, Simon is able to share deep and wide knowledge with our guests. Married with three kids, Simon is a great person with whom to explore animal behaviour – human as well as wild!
“The game drives were out of this world. They were made even more enjoyable by having a driver and spotter who both had a vast amount of knowledge.”Shannon, UK