Travel with the best: why book a specialist personal guide for your safari

Ever felt like you were a little “lost” travelling on your own? Worried about safety when travelling to African countries or going on safari? Uncomfortable about not knowing the local customs, or just feeling unsure about how best to optimise your safari experience?  

We’ve all been there! Whether you are an experienced traveller or a first timer, you can choose to be accompanied on your safari by a specialist private guide. A personal safari guide is more than just knowledge. They personalise your entire travelling experience, from getting insider tips about what to pack, to adding those little extra special touches that make your trip even more memorable. Compared to the guides (and often trackers) who will drive the vehicle and share their local knowledge at each safari lodge or camp, a private guide will travel alongside you during your entire trip.

michelle pengilly private guide tswalu
Private guide Michelle Pengilly pointing out tracks to guests at Tswalu Kalahari Reserve © Wild Wonderful World

Your private guide is an all-in-one spotter, tracker, naturalist, photographer, interpreter of cultures (and language!), host, storyteller, trouble-shooter and concierge. Here are some of our travellers’ main reasons for travelling with a private guide:

Seamless safari experience from arrival to departure.  

Your private guide will meet you on arrival in the country of travel and from this point onwards, they will make sure that all logistics are taken care of so that you can focus on just enjoying your holiday. They will facilitate all details of travel/ daily activities, trouble-shoot if required and create a flexible daily schedule adapted to your personal needs and preferences. This includes:

  1. Helping you check in for flights and road transfers  
  1. Finding your way around airports, cities, taxi areas and more, avoiding potential scams or con artists
  1. Upon arrival at your safari lodge, your private guide will relay any dietary requirements or any other requests directly to lodge management  
  1. Your private guide will be the link between lodges, which will ensure unique activities at every camp, maximising your safari experience to the fullest
  1. Ensuring that the whole family/group is engaged and having fun, with a particular focus on children, translating wonders of the wild in a way they can connect with
jonty bozas
Private guide Jonty having fun with travellers on gamedrive © Wild Wonderful World

Specialised expertise in your area of interest

Michelle pointing out birds on a birding safari in Kibale National Forest, Uganda © Wild Wonderful World

All our guides have spent many years in the bush and at many different locations throughout Africa. This has given them a wealth of knowledge on the different areas, and their unique features. From birds to mammals and everything in between, the fauna and flora of the African continent is extremely diverse. Their knowledge of the right positioning to optimise your viewing experience and the right times of day/year to visit certain areas or look for certain species, will complement the local guide’s and maximize your safari experience to the fullest.  

Drawn from many years' experience in the safari industry, a private guide will offer expertise in your area of special interest, for instance birding or photography, to ensure you get the most out of your safari at every location you visit.  

Our private guides are accomplished photographers and have spent many years in the bush observing animals in various scenarios. Their training and experience as safari guides have equipped them with a great understanding of animal behaviour, enabling them to predict their movements and knowing which details to look for. They will communicate with the local guides to request vehicle positioning and advise you as the photographer on composition and lighting opportunities, so that you can get the perfect angle for the perfect shot.  

As with any photography, post-production is often key for wildlife photography. Your private guide is available at any time to assist with digital editing software, to help you with photo and video editing. If you wish, your private guide will also take pictures of yourself on safari as well as the animals that we get to see. These images will be sent to you in digital form, or if you so wish, compiled in a stunning coffee table book for you to cherish.

Getting up close and personal with Africa: Jonty checking out an old carcass with one of our travellers in Tanzania © Wild Wonderful World

A passion for the wild and years of experience: prepare for endless and often hilarious storytelling

elephant conservation safari
Michelle with guest Kate on a specialised conservation safari © Wild Wonderful World

A private guide will create continuity by weaving a narrative through the different habitats and sightings you will encounter on your African safari tour. They will share their passion for the bush, entertaining you with anecdotes and storytelling - on safari, during mealtimes and later around the fire. Over a decade of wild camping, guide training, meeting other travellers and guides, exploring the African continent and living in the African bush, their stories are never-ending and will enrich your safari experience beyond your imagination.  

Our private guiding team are active volunteers in conservation projects via our charity, and they are always available to share current insights into the finer details of conservation and the protection of wildlife in Africa. If you’ve ever wanted to experience and really get to know Africa in-depth, gain insight into its history and current events from a local perspective, a private guide is the best way to travel this beautiful continent.

In case you're still on the fence ...

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An unfortunate roadblock during Chris' safari to Uganda, just one situation where having a private guide with you makes a big difference © Wild Wonderful World

One of our frequent travellers explains why he chooses to travel with Wild Wonderful World Founder and private guide, Michelle:

“I’m often travelling alone, so having a safari specialist travelling with me adds great value in terms of company but also experience and knowledge of the countries and regions we are visiting. Michelle made sure that our experience was what we wanted it to be, which wouldn’t have been possible if I had been on my own – not knowing the country and all the different possibilities!  

As the trip involved staying at different accommodation and lodges, Michelle made sure everything ran smoothly and provided continuity in the guiding experience. She kept local guides on their toes and made sure that my priorities were met and that we got the experience we wanted. Her advice when the schedule was changed due unexpected weather conditions was invaluable. She also helped to navigate language barriers and cultural differences, interpreting different wildlife facts and making sure no awkward situations occurred. Overall, it adds confidence that things will get sorted out and allows me not to worry about practicalities. This is especially valuable compared to using a remote travel planner, as they are not on the trip with you and thus cannot pre-empt situations or potential issues as easily.  Michelle also made sure that we fully optimised our time in Uganda, organising more activities during the day and provided a more “off-the-cuff" and adaptable travel experience.”

“Ever since our first trip with Michelle, we have developed a great personal relationship. Michelle understands and knows exactly what myself, and my wife when she joins us, are looking for during our travels, both in terms of transfers and accommodation. Everything is always sorted before we arrive to a new destination! Secondly, Michelle’s knowledge of Africa is astounding, having lived and travelled extensively across the continent. The fact that she has spent so much time travelling and getting to know African destinations, is a definite game-changer and, for us, eliminates hours and hours of time spent on researching destinations, accommodation, transfers, etc. Thirdly, you can see and feel that Wild Wonderful World’s passion lies with nature and its diverse wildlife. This is a sentiment that aligns with mine as a traveller. And finally, the bespoke character of their safaris and trips is a huge selling point for me. Michelle always finds a solution and makes sure that we get exactly what we are looking for in a holiday. I would phrase it like this:  

“You get what you pay for, rather than paying for what you get. The difference may be subtle, but it can make or break a trip in my experience!”

semliki hotsprings uganda
Michelle and Chris at the Semliki Hotsprings, Uganda © Wild Wonderful World

Whether it is your first time travelling to Africa, you feel unsure about certain aspects, or you just wish to optimise your entire trip and activities, traveling with a private safari guide will enrich your experience in a multitude of ways. Our private guiding team has a combined 20+ years of active safari guiding experience, having lived and worked across Africa and in Africa’s top-safari industry. Contact us to explore this unique add-on.

Written by Evelyn Poole, Jonty Bozas & Michelle Pengilly

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