Get to Know Safari Guide Maurice Mwanzia

Maurice Mwanzia — who comes from a remote part of Kenya where poaching has impacted the elephant population — wanted to become a guide to help educate people about wildlife conservation. After studying to become a licensed guide at ALSEA Tourism College in Mombasa, Kenya, he now works as a safari guide for Spot Kenya Safaris, which offers both budget and luxury tours from wildlife parks to cultural sites and beaches in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
How did you become a safari guide?

My father was a driver (for a) tour firm and I used to accompany him on trips when I (wasn’t in) school. I chose it as a career because it was my dream. It is important to show people my country so that they may experience a different culture.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I am specialized in budget tours, luxury tours and honeymoon tours. When clients do tours with me, they expect to see what I briefed them on before the tour begins — that is, culture, landscapes or game drives.

Do you have a certain style of guiding, or do you just run with it on the day?

I am flexible — I listen to clients’ priorities, I don’t follow a fixed itinerary. When I am guiding people in the parks, I try my best to show the wildlife, birds and culture from different tribes like the Masai.

What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is to travel and discover different places.

What’s the most bizarre experience you’ve had on a guided tour?

Sometimes while on trips we meet with rogue elephants that chase our vehicle. One time an elephant put his trunk inside the vehicle to get a banana — I told clients to keep quiet and he took a banana and (then) stood aside and we made our way.

Every job has its ups and downs. Are there any aspects of your job that you don’t like or aren’t keen on?

Sometimes clients may cancel a trip at the last minute (and) I had (turned down) another trip, so (this means I) lose business. Many people speak English, but you may meet other people who do not speak English — they speak Arabic, French or Polish — so it is difficult at times for this client to understand what you are trying to explain.

As an experienced guide yourself, can you explain to our readers what the benefits of hiring a guide are?

First, you are safe because this person knows the area well. … A guide has firsthand information of the area you are visiting or any other related activity.

Tell us something about East Africa that only a guide would know.

A guide will advise clients (when and where) to take precautions, like don’t wear gold while walking in the big cities because this will attract thieves or don’t feed wildlife because they will attack you.

Do you have any tips for people who are interested in booking a guide like yourself, but aren’t sure what to look for?

People should look for a guide who is based in the area (they’re visiting). A good tour guide should be a quick thinker, (have) a guiding license, and have good reviews from past clients.

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