Best Mobile Safari Guides 2010

" The Best Mobile Safari Guide in Africa, 2010 "     ( The Good Safari Guide Award, UK )
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.

Keyala Phiri
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.

Jacob Shawa
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.

Daudi Njobvu
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

Jason Alfonsi
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.

Zebron Chirwa
Growing up in the Chipata district south-east of the Luangwa Valley, Zebron did not have much exposure to wildlife as a child but he did however know that it was something he was interested in. Finding employment with National Parks in 1990 he was immediately posted to the South Luangwa with promises of doing a rangers course and being exposed to the bush. This however did not happen and he became increasingly involved in planning and monitoring of activities from the office. Becoming fed up of this he decided to put his mind to guiding, passing his exam in 1996. Joining RPS in 2000 and becoming the assistant manager of Nkwali camp in 2006 he is probably Nkwali's strongest walking guide and his knowledge and enthusiasm for birding is bar none.

Obi Mukabiko
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.

Deb Tittle
Having often been convinced that she had been born in the wrong country Deb left the UK and started working in tourism. First attacking France for 3 years and then taking overland trips in South America and later in Africa. She soon realised that Africa was the place for her. Finally coming to the South Luangwa in 1994 and leading walking trails in both the North and the South Luangwa Parks for Wild Zambia Safaris, and later for various other operators, before joining RPS in 2004. There seemed no better and more suitable option than for Deb to head up our Bush camping safaris in the Nsefu sector: this is a wilderness and walking experience. “I will walk the length of my days under the African skies”
Renowned as being one of the best guides in the South Luangwa and a mentor to many trainee guides, Deb also heads up the guide training during the Emerald Season.

Bertrame Njobvu
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.

Sebastian Kamwendo
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.

Simon Pitt
This excitable Zimbabwean born Australian, who spent 12 years in Malawi as a kid, has a passion for wildlife where ever he is in the world. After completing a degree in Natural Resource Management in Australia Simon worked with New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service for 5 years on various projects including pest and weed control, threatened species management, general wildlife surveys and fire fighting. Simon returned to Africa in 2005 to visit his old Malawi school friend, and one of RPS’s all time favourite sons, Simon Cousins. The South Luangwa NP struck a cord with his affection of the bush and Simon went back to Oz sold his surf boards and returned to Africa to pursue his love of the African Bush. Initially working for RPS as our Workshop Manager Simon has now moved across to guiding where he takes people along on his enthusiastic discovery of the Valley.  In 2009 he was promoted to Camp Manager based at Tena Tena.

Braston Daka
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.

Kangachepe Banda
'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.

Nyambe Musiyalela
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.

Rocky Simachila
Being born a survivor and named after a fighter Rocky attacks his life with great enthusiasm. This lust for life can not help but be noticed by all around him and becomes an addictive trait. Growing up in Mfuwe, Rocky from a young age would be taken out into the park on his own mini safari by his uncle whom was also a guide and later became somewhat of a mentor. “It has always been a dream for me to become a safari guide”. Achieving this dream he passed his guides exam in 2000 and since joining RPS in 2004. He has been leading the Walking Mobiles Safaris for a couple of years.  Rocky now lives in Australia but will be back in the dry months for a stint of guiding with us.

Prince Mutale
Prince started out in Lusaka but always knew he was destined with wildlife. His elder brother inspired him through weekend trips to Chaminuka to learn the birds and wildlife. In 2005 his nephew, who was guiding in South Luangwa invited him up to start training as a guide. He began as waiter and filled his spare time with reading, studying and going on game drives to up his knowledge. He joined RPS in 2005 as a trainee guide and passed his guiding exam in 2007, only a month before his wedding to the lovely Tamara.


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