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.
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.
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!
Charles is a recent arrival within the Bushtops family, but he brings to Serengeti Bushtops broad, deep experience developed whilst working in several of Tanzania’s National Parks. Brought up in nearby Arusha, where his family still lives, he has graduated from assistant guide to full guide status and now holds an advanced certificate in professional tour guiding. Having worked both on the flat grasslands and in the high hills (he spent time as a mountaineering guide), Charles now specializes in explaining the flora and fauna of the bush to receptive safari guests – with particular emphasis on his great passion and strength: African bird life.
Juma is another new and valued member of the Bushtops team, but he is far from wet behind the ears; he brings with him some 15 years’ experience and expertise, gained whilst working for a range of companies in Tanzania. His gift for understanding nature is matched by an ability to communicate this passion, not only in English, but also in fluent French, German or Spanish. His particular expertise ranges from mammals to birds, but there is little or nothing in the Bush that Juma cannot see, explain or enthuse about.
Amos is a home-grown talent. He joined us as a spotter and, working with our entire ranger team, learned so much and proved so promising that he developed swiftly into a first-rate ranger. This practical, on-the-job training was augmented by Bushtops’ provision of online training. Success in his new calling led him to set aside an early dedication to becoming a teacher: now he uses his skills in the largest classroom in the world – the endless horizons of the African Bush! As a member of the Kuria tribe, Amos grew up with wild animals, has a great passion for nature and can reveal secrets and wildlife within every corner of the Serengeti National Park.
“You really get a true safari feel with the open-sided vehicles.”Sunny, USA