After every safari, we hear from guests that their guide was amazing, and that he “must be the best.” At this point, we’ve heard this about every single guide leading our trips!
We know that highly-skilled, friendly, attentive safari guides can make the difference between a good safari and an unforgettable one; that’s why we’re so honored to be able to work with so many amazing individuals, such as:
So Leonard, you’ve been leading Thomson trips for a long time, yes?
A very long time—18 years! Long enough that you should know I go by Lenny! [laughs]
Touché. So, Lenny, where are you from originally?
My parents are from Tanga, near the coast, and Kilimanjaro, so I think of myself as being from all over! Now though I stay in one place—I have to, with three kids, one 7, one 4 ½, and one just a baby.
What’s your favorite thing about being a guide?
I love meeting different people and making new friends. After 18 years of doing this, I have friends all over the world!
You must have learned some great tricks for spotting wildlife over the years.
A few. The most reliable is to check the trees for tails—that’s a pretty good sign a cat is hiding up there. [laughs]
Do you have a favorite animal to see on safari? A favorite park to visit?
I love spotting cats, all different kinds—lions, leopards, cheetahs, serval. They’re so graceful and beautiful. As for parks, though, I love them all. Each one is completely unique, so it’s impossible to pick a favorite!
What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen in the bush?
When I started out, everything seemed strange—Tanzania truly is full of wonders. Nowadays, though, nothing surprises me! [laughs]
Do you have any good stories to share?
Oh, hundreds. One of my favorites took place in Tarangire. There are many elephants there, and I told the guests to be quiet, so they wouldn’t disturb them. After they had taken some pictures, they sort of forgot about the elephants, and started talking. Loudly!
One of the elephants charged, so I started driving away as fast as I could. The clients were nervous, of course, and they told me to “step on it, Lenny, we’re from Chicago!”
I turned around and I said “I don’t think the elephant cares if you’re from Chicago or LA or anywhere else, and he’s the one I’m worried about right now!”
They all thought that was very funny—at least once we’d outrun the elephant! For the rest of the trip, they called me “Chicago Man” instead of Lenny. [chuckles]
Is there anything you want travelers to know about Tanzania?
It is truly the best place in the world to visit right now, especially for safari. The parks are totally uninhabited, with no human impact. Come and see what the world was like when the world was still wild!