My Tanzania – Q&A with Nomad Tanzania Guide Remtullah Nassary
As part of our training at Aardvark Safaris every member of the sales team travels on familiarisation trips, affectionately known as a ‘fam trip’, to trial camps and safaris first hand. My recent fam trip included a circuit of Northern Tanzania – an area in which we organise many holidays.
Having a great guide is something we know can make all the difference between a good safari and an outstanding safari. An exceptional guide has an excellent sense of humour, eyes like a hawk, engaging story telling ability and complete infatuation with the wildlife and bush that surrounds them. I am delighted to introduce Rem, my guide from Nomad Tanzania, who epitomises an exceptional guide. During a sundowner one evening I caught up with him to learn about his journey to becoming a guide.
An interview with Remtullah Nassary or ‘Rem’ as he is known by everyone at Nomad Safaris
Born in Momella on the slopes of Mount Meru, Rem has worked his way up the ranks from helping out in the camp kitchen to his current position as a well-respected and knowledgeable Northern Guide for Nomad Tanzania. I was lucky enough to have him as my guide for the duration of my fam trip in October.
Did you always want to be a guide growing up?
Well, my father was a farmer and I grew up in the countryside on the outskirts of Arusha National Park. We were always on the look out for animals, trying to protect our crops and I think this was when my interest was sparked by the wildlife. I wanted to know more, so after finishing primary school I was set on becoming a guide.
So how long have you been guiding for Nomad?
I have been guiding for over 19 years. I started working in the kitchen, before becoming a tracker and finally a guide. I also own a garage back in Arusha that deals with all the maintenance of the Nomad safari vehicles. We buy Toyota pick ups and then completely alter the body of the vehicle. We add windows, the roof, a drinks cooler and comfortable seats to make sure clients have an easy journey and aren’t subject to the ‘African massage’ – what happens when you bump along the dusty stony tracks.
Tanzania is special, it is very unique. We are just one degree from the equator, surrounded by Africa’s Great Lakes and it is home to the Roof of Africa – ‘Mount Kilimanjaro’, Africa’s highest mountain peak. We even touch the Great Rift Valley. But it isn’t all about the geography it is also about the amazing Masai people.
What is your favourite area in Tanzania?
Oh, that’s a tricky one. I mean, the Serengeti has it all: the nature, loads of animals, you get woodlands to the endless plains to the rocks, you could never tire of the scenery – it is an exciting place to be. Especially the Northern Serengeti in August through to October, the plains are open and there is nowhere for the animals to hide, there is so much action. But, the Selous in the south of Tanzania holds a special place for me. I loved my time guiding here and there are so many activities to do, you aren’t restricted to a vehicle. My passion lies in the walking, the walking safari is my favourite, you get close to danger, you smell it, feel it and touch it. You can be in the movie rather than just watching it.
During your 19 years what is the strangest request you have had from clients?
Hmmmm, it isn’t really a request but it is something I get ALL the time. We head out to the bush and sometimes the climate changes quickly, it can be beautiful sunshine and then the dark clouds roll in. The clients the always turn to me and say
‘Rem, is it going to rain?’, or first thing in the morning when it is beautiful sunshine ‘is it going to rain?’…. I don’t know!
What is your favourite animal?
For me, it’s the elephant. They are sociable and smart, led by the matriarch. I could sit and watch them for hours, they are fascinating. They have a great memory and know where to find food or water.
What has been one of your most memorable moments on safari with clients?
A moment that always stays with me was when I was walking with clients in the Selous, about five years ago. We came across an elephant with her calf and she charged. We had to make a very quick exit. I thought it was unusual she was so tense, but I could tell she sensed danger. I returned with some colleagues the following morning to find the rest of her herd had been killed by poachers. It was devastating.
Do you have a favourite sundowner spot?
It can be anywhere in the African bush, but my favourite is either on the river bank or on top of a rock.
So, it sounds like a pretty good job then Rem?
Oh yes, this is a nice office! Behind the wheel of my vehicle, showing off this incredible country to nice people and seeing some amazing wildlife along the way.
Any questions on a Tanzania safari?
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We would be delighted to help you plan a holiday, or answer any questions if you’re at an earlier stage. Our team of experts have travelled widely throughout Africa and can help you plan a safari in Tanzania. We can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris. If you would like to talk to someone who has been there and done it, please just send us an email or give us a call.