We were one of the first safari operators in Tanzania to insist on Tanzanian guides, because it simply didn't make any sense to explore the Serengeti with European or South African guides.
Best decision we ever made! In addition to superior wildlife spotting skills, our team of African safari guides offers local insight that can’t be found in guide books.
Your senior naturalist guides are all Tanzanian, born and raised, and have a minimum of 10 years experience in the field.
More than leaders, spotters, and wildlife experts, our safari guides are diplomats - true ambassadors for Tanzania. They can't wait to share their country's treasures with you.
Meet some of the guides in the videos below!
Learn a little more about some of your expert safari guides, and hear what happy Thomson guests have to say about them:
Kileo, as his travelers call him, has worked as a guide in Tanzania for more than 30 years. His extensive experience makes guests feel secure deep in the African wilderness. The moment you meet him, you know you’re in good hands.
"Kileo is amazing. Tour guides make or break a trip and I cannot say enough wonderful things about him. From the moment he picked me up in Arusha, I was enamored with him. His keen eyes found every lazy lounging leopard in a tree and the amount of knowledge he has is admirable. Any group would be lucky to have Kileo as their guide." - Marcy D., Lake Grove, NY
Charles has been taking Thomson travelers into the bush for more than 20 years. His prior experience as a senior ranger in northern and southern parks makes him an excellent travel partner. Travelers appreciate his enthusiasm for African wildlife and his stellar tracking skills.
"I have always dreamed of coming to Africa. I could not imagine a better person than Charles to show me the animals, share the culture, keep us safe and laugh with. He is a great man and I will always remember him! How he can spot a leopard in a tree is astounding! You have a great group of people working here." - Cynthia M., Arlington, WA
Freddy's easygoing nature, extensive knowledge, and great sense of humor make him an excellent travel partner. He’s happy to answer any questions—so don’t be afraid to tell him what’s on your mind.
"Freddy was the BEST – ever. We were so happy to have him. He is knowledgeable, courteous, polite, mannerly, always willing to go the extra step and mile. He made the trip so pleasant! He has to be one of your number one guides! He never let up – he worked every minute with us." - Barbara & John M., Indiana, PA
Harrison worked as a Land Rover mechanic for years before graduating to the position of head guide. He has been a guide now for 13 years. His willingness to teach and enthusiasm for Tanzania enriches our travelers’ safaris from start to finish.
"Harrison Mremi did an outstanding job on our safari. He is very knowledgeable and has a wonderful spirit and works very hard to make everything the best. I have learned so much from him." Pat L., Birmingham, AL
Hashim has worked for Rick and Judi in various positions since 1998. His outgoing personality makes travelers feel comfortable right from the start. He loves Tanzanian geology, botany, and wildlife, and he’s happy to share this love with everyone.
"Hashim is well spoken, knowledgeable, professional and has a good sense of humor. He made our experience unforgettable. I felt safe at all times and trusted him completely. I want to thank him for showing me the soul of Northern Tanzania. He is wonderful to talk to about cultural, historical, social and economic issues. Fascinating." - Cherise A., Prince Albert, SK, Canada
Leonard has worked for Rick and Judi in various roles for over 15 years. He is passionate about Tanzania’s history and its people, and has a keen eye for spotting elusive wildlife. Leonard believes that no matter how much you know, there’s always more to learn. His charm and wit capture travelers right from the start.
"We were very impressed with Leonard’s deep respect for the people of Tanzania and for all the animals in this beautiful country. He shared his knowledge and insights and was so able and willing to anticipate where to position our vehicle for the best viewing. Our thanks for his leadership and daily scheduling! We enjoyed being with him – always so nice and polite." - Judy A., West Chester, PA
Robert has been guiding since 1998 - first as an Assistant Guide, and then as a Head Guide. He’s been in the travel industry for years, making him a seasoned traveler and exceptional leader. And his laugh is unforgettable.
"Our new friend, Robert, is a gem. Courteous, organized, flexible and fun, very knowledgeable, willing to listen, tireless, curious and responsive. After a week we feel like we’ve known Robert for a long time. Robert was extraordinary. He was good-humored, knowledgeable, sensitive to our needs, and not in the slightest overbearing. He was a pleasure." - Shippen P. & Anne S., Cambridge, MA
James was born and raised in Arusha and worked for Rick and Judi in various roles for more than 10 years. His uncle was a safari guide, which inspired James to learn about local wildlife and improve his English at a young age. He loves exploring the bush with travelers, especially on foot.
"James absolutely MADE our safari! He sees so much and has great instincts about when to stop and give us time to take photos or just enjoy the animals. He gives us excellent education about animals, birds, trees and even Tanzania as a country! We have all grown very fond of him and will really miss him. I would hire him in a minute if I was in the market for his skills. He is an absolute credit to Thomson!" - William & Margaret M., Raleigh, NC
Abu began as a cook over 20 years ago and worked his way up to Head Guide. He has participated in many leadership courses, but it’s his sense of humor and dedication to travelers that make him a big hit, especially with families.
"Abu was a superb leader and guide. He skillfully made sure all our needs and wants regarding photography and other things were well met. He was available and helpful regarding animal and bird behavior and plant identification. I enjoyed being with him and his vast experience and knowledge and his sensitivity and intelligence." - Annabeth M., Fairport, NY
Casmir grew up in Arusha, where his passion for African wildlife began on visits to national parks with his father. He has worked in the travel industry for 10 years and offers an extensive knowledge of the bush. He enjoys sharing his love of Tanzanian people and cultures with travelers.
"Casmir was fantastic!! All the other guides were very good, but Casmir was the best: patient, knowledgeable and proactive. He didn’t have to wait for a question. He was our favorite – don’t ever lose him!" - Karen & Joe P., San Jose, CA
Kumbi started as a mechanic over 25 years ago and has since worked his way up to a Head Guide. His bright smile and love for Tanzania are contagious. He’s enthusiastic about sharing his homeland with travelers.
"Kumbi was magnificent. His knowledge of the wildlife and landscape enhanced my trip immeasurably. And his eagle eyes ensured that we didn’t miss a single thing, no matter how well camoflauged. All I can say is wow, this guy knows his stuff -animals, birds, bugs, plants, weather, terrain, history - you name it. A really nice guy with the vision of an eagle! A+++ for Kumbi. I hope I get him next time, too." Bob D., Melrose, MA
Johnny Rio (as his travelers call him) was born and raised in the village of Sakila, located on the outskirts of Arusha. Growing up on a farm, he began learning about local wildlife at a young age. His patience and fun-loving personality make him a big hit with kids and adults. On some safaris, travelers share a meal with John’s family.
"Not enough good things can be said about John! I consider him my Tanzanian brother, and cannot imagine not being able to communicate with him. His knowledge of his country, our country, animals, birds, plants and even his driving skills are exceptional and his people skills are fabulous!" - Alise H., Selkirk, NY
Mustapha's laidback, fun-loving personality makes traveling with him a delight. He loves talking to travelers and sharing his knowledge on his country’s history and wildlife.
"We have been fortunate to be able to travel to 67 different countries and take dozens of guided tours. We can honestly say that Mustafa is without question the finest tour guide we have ever had! In the 6 days we spent with Mustafa, our appreciation of his unique skills and characteristics increased every day." - Robert I., Tampa, FL
Mohamed has worked for Rick and Judi in various roles for 25 years. His fun sense of humor and substantial knowledge on Tanzania are the reasons both kids and adults love traveling with him. He’s quick to tell a joke or crack a sneaky grin.
"Mohammed - we just love him. The most special person of the entire trip. My daughter and I look up to him as a great man with a great heart. He was papa to us and really took care of us. Made our safari very personal. Full of knowledge on everything about animals and a wise, wonderful guide. How do you do it? And he is so funny!" - Gwen J., San Diego, CA
Ojukwu, born and raised in Arusha, descends from the Maasai tribe. He is knowledgeable about the oral history of the Maasai people and delights in sharing his knowledge with travelers. His gregarious nature makes him a fun travel partner. And, he’s easy to pick out of a crowd—he’s so tall!
"There were only 7 of us, and we couldn’t have been more different. I know it had to be a challenge to manage us. Ojukwu was incredible! He is so professional and patient! He is very good at handling all types of people and situations. He also made this safari very fun and a great learning experience! I know much more than I would have imagined. Asante sana!" - Mimi A., Philadelphia, PA
Samson started out as a camp assistant in 1990 before becoming a driver, then eventually a guide. Samson offers a wealth of information to travelers on everything from wildlife to Tanzanian cultures. He believes every safari is a grand adventure and an opportunity to observe the evolving behavior of wildlife. Ask him to speak the African “click” language!
"I love Samson – he was one of my guides 12 years ago, so it was so much fun to see him again at the airport. He is always a pleasure to ride with, has a 6th sense where animals are concerned and is a wonderful asset to Thomson." - Maureen G., Santa Rosa, CA
Willie has been taking Thomson travelers into the bush from the very beginning - since 1980! He currently leads many of our affinity trips. He offers an impressive breadth of knowledge on Tanzania and unparalleled experience exploring the bush. Travelers love his enthusiasm for Africa and consider him a teacher, leader, and friend.
"Willie was delightful! His knowledge of the birds, animals and dung was amazing. He laughed and joked with all of us. I appreciated his leadership and explanation of each new day. He was quite adept at imitating the animal sounds. I felt safe and well taken care of and we saw so many more animals than I anticipated. It was the trip of a lifetime, way more than I had expected." - Sandy M., Missoula, MT
Phanuel was born in Arusha to the Maasai tribe and has worked for Rick and Judi for over 20 years. He loves having fun on safaris and talking about local history and culture. He has a gentle nature and keen sensitivity toward travelers. He looks forward to making new friends with each departure.
"Phanuel’s knowledge of the entire spectrum of areas visited was impressive. Highly professional, patient, well-mannered and clearly enjoyed his job. He related terrific – exciting and enjoyable stories about prior safaris. It was great to hear about his daughter’s progress in school." - Art & Louise W., Lancaster, PA