My Tanzania – Q&A with safari guide George Phestor at Wayo Africa
Francis has just returned from northern Tanzania where he had the chance to walk across parts of the region few others get to see. Along the way he took time to chat to Wayo Africa senior guide George Phestor about his life as a safari guide.
Please tell me a bit about your background George?
I was born in Singida, which is in central Tanzania, south of Manyara and Tarangire. My father was a Kuria, from just west of the northern part of the Serengeti, and my mother was a Luo from the Kisumu region in Kenya.
That sounds like an unusual match; how did your parents meet?
My father was a cow hide trader, and went to Kenya often to sell hides to Bata Shoes in Nairobi. My mother was working for Bata, and they met there.
Where did you go to school to learn such excellent English?
I went to Isenyi primary school in Tanzania, not far from the Kenya border, and then Kisumu for secondary school, where I began to learn English. I finished school when I was 16, and went back to the Kuria country and my father’s home area.
How did you become a safari guide?
I was a very keen football player, and scored a goal against a TANAPA team that came to play in the village. The boss of TANAPA was impressed with my English and my football, and offered me a job as an assistant to one of the Frankfurt Zoological Society vets in the Serengeti. I spent four years assisting with vulture research, and during that time fell in love with the wilderness and wildlife.
How long have you been guiding?
I have been guiding for 26 years, and for the past 10 years with Wayo Africa. I worked for a few of the bigger companies during that time, and learnt a lot about how not to look after people. Some of them treat guides like machines, and it is not surprising that the behaviour of some of them is so poor as a result.
What do you like most about being a guide?
Best thing about guiding is learning from people and teaching them about the bush and my beautiful home, Tanzania.
Which is your favourite animal?
My favourite animal is the cheetah; it’s an amazingly resourceful and beautiful animal, and best of all it only kills to eat, and only eats what it has killed.
Do you have a favourite part of Tanzania – I would expect it’s somewhere in the north…?
Ah, well, I have been very fortunate to travel to many parts of Tanzania, including to Lake Tanganyika. This is my favourite place, with chimps, fishing, and incredible scenery. It’s so beautiful and different to the rest of the country too. Seeing the chimps in Mahale was amazing.
What do you enjoy doing during your time off?
I love fishing, partly because I like eating fish so much, but also because it’s relaxing and I enjoy the feeling of putting food on my family’s table.
Any questions on a Tanzania safari?
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