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Back 22 / 02 / 2013

Q & A with Kapani Lodge's Willie Shuma

The third instalment of our African safari Guiding Q & A series features Willie Shuma, safari manager at Norman Carr Safaris.

How and why did you become a guide?

I grew up living with animals in close proximity in the South Luangwa. I learnt all about them and the habitats when I was still very young. One is taught to be bush wise from a very tender age. It grows within you and, in my case, became a part of me.

Do you have a specialism?

I’m a general practitioner but I am very keen on birds.

What is your favourite country/national park/reserve to guide in?

Zambia and the South Luangwa National Park.

What has been your favourite sighting to date?

A civet hunting and killing a five foot spitting cobra! (Civets are fairly small, cat-like creatures with an extended muzzle, like an otter or mongoose.)

What’s your favourite activity?

I like to combine both walking and driving.

If you could go to any country to see its wildlife, where would you choose?

East Africa to see the Great Migration and any country where I can see the penguins and a bear.

What advice would you give to anyone who wanted to become a guide?

Guiding is an exciting career because you get the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life. It is becoming very competitive and one has to keep abreast with everything around them and bear in mind that you learn every day.

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There is a world of difference between one of our tailormade safaris and most package holidays printed in a brochure. Package holidays are usually designed to be as cheap as possible and of course involve large numbers of people doing the same thing. Our safaris use small, more exclusive and remote camps usually with guests flying in, and often virtually everything is included in the price. The experience is completely different.

Many of these small lodges and camps have broadly similar prices, and it is possible to arrange a superb two week safari for between £4,000 to £7,000 per person ($7,000 – $11,000) season dependant, all inclusive. Realistically it is difficult to reduce that figure, and by including Botswana in peak season, chartering a private plane, disappearing to some magical desert island, or flying at the front of the plane it’s easy to substantially increase that figure!