Our Safari Guides
“The game experience was a revelation and my guide would have embarrassed many of the so-called experts elsewhere”. Ian Erasmus, 2008
Why RPS? - Guest to guide/vehicle ratio is 4:1 (not 6:1 as in most camps, especially bush camps)
The guide on any holiday is critical - he needs to be informed, knowledgable, sensitive, with a good sense of humour and fun. And this is especially true on safari where you spend many hours with your guide.We therefore choose our guides very carefully and believe we have wonderful team that will give the best safari possible.
The Luangwa Safari Association in the South Luangwa, along with the Zambian Wildlife Authority, run the annual guides exam and have done since 1989. The standard of guiding is now extremely high in the South Luangwa where we now are in the top level of guides in Africa. Robin Pope Safaris take this standard even further and continue the training of their guides. They, as a team, are known as the best available. Not only are they extremely knowledgeable but also know how to interpret this knowledge to give their guests a thoroughly enjoyable safari.
Born in Mfuwe and looking up to his father who worked as a ranger in National Parks, Keyala dreamed of following in his footsteps whether it be working for the Zambian Wildlife Authority or in the safari industry. After finishing his schooling he soon found a job with RPS working in the office and learning the ropes of a safari operation. However, keeping him behind a desk after 15.30 became rather trying as he somehow managed to disappear most evenings as a spotter on game drives. It soon became apparent that his huge personality and infectious laugh was not going to remain confined to the office and Keyala started guiding full time in 1997, becoming the manager of Nkwali Camp in 2002. In 2006 with the company expanding further Keyala became the overall manager of Nkwali and both houses as well as Senior Safari Manager. Keyala has traveled in both the UK and USA.
With several older brothers being involved in National Parks Jacob was surrounded by books on wildlife as he was growing up. This interest continued to be developed at school when he was made chairman of the wildlife club, taking tours to visit Norman Carr who would encourage the children to get involved in conservation by giving them talks and taking them on small informative tours. Passing his guides exam in 1997 and joining RPS in 1999 he was firstly based at Nsefu then in 2005 moved to Nkwali where he became assistant manager before becoming the guide for Luangwa House when it opened at the end of that year. Jacobs's enthusiasm and knowledge about everything that the bush has to offer from the smallest insect to the largest mammals is what has made him perfect for guiding at Luangwa House. Adapting his guiding for each group it has even been known for him to come back from a game drive with children on board and the entire vehicle to be joining in with a sing along.
Otherwise known as 'The President' Daudi has been guiding in the South Luangwa since 1990, joining Robin Pope Safaris in 1997 as a guide at Tena Tena later becoming the manager of the camp and since 2004 has been the proud and steady manager of Nsefu Camp. Growing up with his father being in National Parks he always had an interest in wildlife - joining the wildlife conservation club at school. However it was not until after his apprenticeship with Bill Astler, a botanist, that he made the decision to become a guide. Daudi's honest and gentle way of managing has resulted in a very united and enthusiastic team
Born in Zambia but with his Italian roots bursting out through his enthusiasm and passion for the bush Jason has been guiding in the South Luangwa since his gap year in 1984 which never ended. Falling in love with the area he decided that this was where he was staying. An astute conservationist and formidable guide Jason has been with Robin Pope Safaris since 1991. Jason is a member of the Zambia Ornithological Society and has a keen interest in Africa's fantastic bird life. He also belongs to a local astronomy club, and his knowledge of the night skies of the Southern Hemisphere makes stopping in a large open area on a night drive far too tempting. Having abandoned the role of camp manager Jason adopts a very relaxed approach and can mostly be found leading our walking safaris up on the Mupamadzi river.
Born and brought up in the Copper Belt, Northern Zambia, Obi started his journey here through the hotel industry. Having completed a Food and Beverage course he started working for a chain of hotels which eventually brought him to the South Luangwa. Once here he became enamoured by the wildlife around him and so took every opportunity available to get out in the park from being a tea bearer on walks to spotting on evening game drives. He soon realised that this was where his passion was and so changed his career, becoming a full time guide in 1992. Joining RPS in 2002 Obi has become the guide for Robin’s House. Here he has created his own fan club of young followers as he draws both parents and especially children into his world. After game drives with the whole family he has often been seen turning a simple walk to the garden with the children into their own private walking safari.
From working as a groundsman at Nkwali, Bertrame's bright nature and interest in the wildlife became ever more apparent. Starting him off in the workshop during the rainy season of 2004/2005, getting him used to all manner of vehicles and learning some basic mechanics, it was not long until he became involved with more and more guest transfers. This interaction with guests came as a natural transition and having spent a year doing this and absorbing huge amounts of information, he sat and passed his guides exam in 2006. Starting his guiding career that same year at Tena Tena Bertrame has become a very rounded and knowledgeable guide.
Becoming a guide because: “It just seemed like the natural thing to do”. He passed his exam in 1998 and joined Robin Pope Safaris in 2004. Sebastian can occasionally appear a little quieter than some of our other guides but with an incredibly dry sense of humour and gentle manner his absolute enjoyment of his profession is evident. Since achieving his walking licence in 2005 Sebastian has been concentrating on honing his walking skills and examining the smaller details the bush has to offer.
Braston joined the RPS team in 2006 with his sights firmly set on becoming a guide. This goal was soon achieved when he passed his exam later that year and started guiding in earnest at Nsefu Camp in May 2007. Having a wonderful and natural awareness for the bush surrounding him, combined with the fact that the game seems to simply gravitate towards him, he can not help but enthrall guests with his stories and knowledge.
'Kanga' was first inspired to become a guide at school where he was active member of the wildlife and conservation club for four years. After completing school he studied automotive mechanics and moved to the Valley to be a mechanic. Upon arrival he spent every spare moment studying and in 2007 joined Deb Tittle in Luangwa Bush Camping as a tea bearer. Spending every day in the bush Kanga learnt a lot and passed his exams first time at the top of the class. Kanga is fast becoming one of our guests' favourite guides for his enthusiasm and love of the bush.
Hailing from Western Province near the Liuwa Plains National Park Nyambe explored Zambia in search of employment after completing his secondary education. Upon arrival in Mfuwe he found a job as a storeman in one of the camps. Being surrounded by the Luangwa Valley Nyambe was inspired to start training for his guide’s license. He has been with Robin Pope Safaris since 2001 and a resident of the Valley for 13 years. Everyone always enjoys his quiet enthusiasm and quirky sense of humour.
Chilumba started his RPS career with us working at the pontoon – his witty comments and eagerness however soon put him on the radar and it was not long before he was quickly snapped up and brought into camp. Working his way up through grounds, waitering and then finally joining the Luangwa Bush Camping team and working under Deb as her teabearer where he simply absorbed all the information she handed out to the guests and then during siesta time pouring through guide books it was not long until he was ready and raring to go for his guides exam. Passing first time it was no surprise to the team and under the watchful eye of Daudi he is fast becoming one of our young stars out in the bush.
Frederick (Fred) Phiri
Having reluctantly being released from the kitchen where he was one of our top chefs Fred decided that he wanted to follow a career as a safari guide. As with all of our team who choose this route they are put in the workshop to learn the ins and outs of mechanics then spend time taking our guests too and from the airport and learning the "RPS way". A natural at chatting to the guests with his larger than life personality Fred is incredibly self motivated and although he spent a lot of time spotting on night drives he primarily taught himself about the wildlife in the national park. Sitting the exams in 2010 he passed first time and is now honing his skills before becoming a fully fledged RPS walking guide.
Having been with Robin Pope Safaris for many years and having adapted himself to a multitude of different jobs Julius always had his heart set on becoming a guide. Having spent 3 seasons learning about the guest experience and taking guests too and from the airport as well as getting on as many night drives as a spotter as possible he passed his driving exam in 2010. With a brilliant wit and dry sense of humour it will not be long until he starts to entertain guests out in the bush with his knowledge and lightness of heart and unmissable passion.
Born and brought up in Mfuwe, surrounded by nature and with a role model like his uncle Kiki, how could he not become enthralled by wildlife and what it had to offer… With a genuine love for nature and steadfast passion to conserve it, Yona felt that becoming a guide really was the best route for him. Being loud and gregarious, he loves meeting new people, the interaction of it all and making new friends. What better place for Yona to be than behind the wheel of a game viewer showing everyone the magic of the Luangwa.
At an early age George spent school holidays on his grandfather’s cattle ranch in Zimbabwe that had an abundance of wildlife and plains game. Here he learnt bush law and tracking from the herd boys and his bush wise grandfather and ever since has had a keen interest for the outdoors and wildlife. After completing school George studied art and then worked on the coalmines in Northern Natal, South Africa. After a brief stint overseas working in Scotland and Wales in fish factories and bunk houses he returned to Africa to complete a life-long dream to work in the bush. He got a job as a junior guide on a game farm on the Pongola River in Natal. Here, for the next six years, he honed his skills in guiding and camp management. For the last four years he has been guiding and managing camps in the Lower Zambezi National Park where he has been conducting walking, canoeing and fly fishing safaris.
Having worked at our sister lodge Mkulumadzi for the last year and half we are fortunate to have Justice, who is a great nature enthusiast, here at Pumulani. It's great going on nature walks with him and learning about termites and other creepy crawlies! Justice was a member of the 'Wildlife Club' at primary school, when he was in secondary school he won a competition which he was rewarded with by a trip to Liwonde National Park and it was then that the seed was planted and he knew what he wanted to do. He furthered his education in South Africa to become a qualified guide. His favourite birds are the grey hornbills. When he's not sharing his knowledge he will be out on the water taking guests water ski-ing, fun tubing or teaching you to sail!