Throughout all the regions in which we work, securing the most inspiring guides is one of our highest priorities. These are the people who will introduce you to the country and allow you to uncover the real soul of the place you are visiting. Nowhere is this more important than on safari – where the guides we choose not only inspire you with their vast knowledge and thrilling stories but also, through their highly skilled and intricate tracking, can tell you exactly when a leopard is nearby and even communicate with the animals you encounter. Quite simply, the guide makes or breaks a safari, and through our team’s substantial experience in Africa, we can call the very best guides our friends.
For a truly extraordinary experience, we can arrange a private guide to accompany you from the start of your holiday to the finish, in several countries if you so wish. The incredibly skilled people that we work with are rare beasts, who are totally attuned to the wildlife and land you are exploring and will lead you to some awe-inspiring sights in a safe and secure way. The experience is very personal, as your guide will learn exactly what you’re interested in seeing and you’ll find a great continuity in your experience, with him or her able to reference wildlife you spoke about days before and put everything you see into context. There is no way of feeling more connected with Africa than exploring it with someone whose life has been dedicated to unlocking the best of the continent.
However, a private guide travelling with you is an expensive luxury, so usually, it is about lining clients up with lodge-based guides. This is why we work predominantly with owner-run lodges and camps run by seasonal guides who will remain with you for the entirety of your stay. Lodges and camps can look great on a website or in a brochure, but the culture of great guiding is part of the DNA we look for in building an itinerary that brings a place to life.
Below, we have highlighted some individuals who embody the qualities we look for when choosing a guide for our clients.
Kyle Branch, Zambia
Kyle Branch co-founded two of our favourite mobile camps in Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park – The Chula Island Camp and The Kutali Camp – with Luke Evans. Both men are incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about the Zambian bush, wildlife and tourism. Luke usually works behind the scenes at the camps while Kyle does most of the guiding.
Born in the South African town of Tzaneen, near Kruger National Park, Kyle spent his childhood exploring the park and its surroundings. Having qualified as a guide, he spent five years guiding at &Beyond’s South African lodges until, in 2012, he left for Zambia, where he became a guide and manager at Sausage Tree Camp in Lower Zambezi National Park. Now, as well as running The Chula Island Camp and The Kutali Camp, Kyle is a private guide for birding, photographic and fishing safaris, accompanying guests all over Southern Africa and Uganda. Our Destination Expert, Cara Maitland, was lucky enough to have Kyle as her guide in Zambia last October. She says, “This is authentic safari at its purest, with bucket showers, no electricity and certainly no Wi-Fi – ideal for our clients who are looking to get back to the real essence of the African bush. Kyle is one of the best guides I have ever had. His knowledge knows no bounds and his love of the African wilderness and its wildlife is completely infectious. I couldn’t recommend him more highly to any of our clients.”