It is widely recognised that due to the rigour of the certification process, the safari guides in Zimbabwe are amongst the very best in Africa. The four-year training ensures that our guides can safely lead guests closer to wildlife than most others can. The Bushlife Safaris Guiding Team was voted best Safari Guiding Team in 2018 – an accolade we are hugely proud of.
Nick Murray was born in 1967, went to high school in Zimbabwe and got his BSc in wildlife management and zoology at the University of Natal. He has had an interest in wildlife since his early years but his guiding career really started in 1988, when he became a learner safari guide in Fothergill Island, Matusadona National Park and achieved his Learner Guide license two years later. In 1991 Nick obtained the Professional Guide License and became the manager of Cawston Block, a private game reserve in Zimbabwe. During the next three years he gained experience in wildlife management, ostrich farming, cattle ranching, fencing and building. In addition he got his dangerous drugs license in 1992 and renews the license every five years. He uses it for game capture and translocations of the wildlife. Nowadays it is necessary for the painted wolf research program and to help treated animals (when they are treated by a snare or another human interference).
Between 1995-1998 he worked for various camps in Kariba-Matusadona, Hwange National Park, Mana Pools National Parks , Chizarira and Gonarezhou as a freelance safari guide.
In 2002 he married Desiree, who is also a licensed professional safari guide (and canoe guide) in Zimbabwe; in fact she was the best candidate on the proficiency exam for professional guides in 1997, being the first woman to ever received the award. Together with Desiree, he has spent a lot of time canoeing Zambezi River since 1997 and Nick earned his Canoe Guides License just one year later. They have been running Bushlife Safaris in Mana Pools for the past two decades.
More recently, Nick and Desiree Murray and their team of expert guides from Bushlife Safaris worked for four years from 2014 to 2018 with BBC Earth production crew and world-renowned presenter, Sir David Attenborough to capture the fascinating journey into the lives of the Painted Wolves of Mana Pools for the Dynasties series.
“Keeping up with the painted wolves was down to the tracking skills of our guides. Nick Murray has spent so long tracking the painted wolves that he knew the exact routes they needed to travel in the wet season to get around” Nick Lyon, Executive Episode Producer.
Having grown up in Zimbabwe, Garth was brought up to be passionate about the African bush and its conservation. After attending university in South Africa, he returned home to pursue a career in the bush. He began his apprenticeship as a Zimbabwean Learner Professional Guide in 2009, and went on to complete his training in the Niassa Reserve, Northern Mozambique.
Having spent 5 years in Niassa growing his experience, not only in guiding, but in conservation and his knowledge of the fauna and flora, Garth returned to Zimbabwe at the end of the 2015 season to take the final Proficiency exam for his Zimbabwe Professional Guiding License, where he came out as top candidate of the proficiency. Garth believes that every true safari encompasses more than the wildlife you see, and goes the extra mile to ensure his guests not only observe the African wilderness, but to are immersed into it.
Mitchell Riley is a Zimbabwe Professional Guide. He has lived in Zimbabwe all his life and his unwavering love and passion for the bush first sparked at a young age whilst accompanying his grandparents on birding safaris throughout Zimbabwe. He has been fortunate enough to have travelled the country end to end and visit many of the fine National Park and Wild areas that Zimbabwe has to offer.
From there his dedication drove him to become one of the youngest fully qualified guides in the country, he is now 30 years young, fit and energetic. With over 10 years’ experience in the African bush surrounded by big dangerous game, Mitchell is confident yet respectfully cautious when on guided safaris ensuring guest safety and enjoyment is that the forefront of his mind.
He has an affiliation towards all aspects of the bush and prides himself in being non bias exploring and enjoying everything nature has to offer and teach, and hopes to impart knowledge and give a sense of accomplishment on each and every safari.
During his spare time Mitchell is an accomplished fisherman which lends to his versatility should there be any like-minded fisher people on a safari. Having managed several safari camps he is well equipped for every eventuality and is an asset in a camp. Mitchell is always armed with his Nikon coolpix1000 P and his .458Lott rifle and looks forward to ensuring that every safari is as unique and as memorable as the last.
Jim was born in Nakuru, Kenya, and his family moved to what was then Rhodesia in 1969 to the Glendale farming area. He joined the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management in 1977. Jim was based at the Gonerezhou and Nyanga National Parks and finally in the Chewore Safari Area as Warden in charge. While with National Parks Jim qualified as a Professional Guide in 1988.
After leaving Parks in 1989, Jim joined Rukomechi Safari Camp as the Resident Professional Guide. For the next three years Jim was involved at Rukomechi and with Leon Varley Safaris, guiding into Chizarira, Victoria Falls and Kazuma National Park. From there Jim then went onto join Natureways with Garth Thompson and John Stevens Safaris as a Freelance Guide. This kept Jim occupied until married life came calling Jim in 1991 and moved down with his family to the Save Valley Conservancy.
At the beginning of 2000 Jim went back into Freelance Guiding, during which time he has worked with the following Camps and Safari operators: The Hide, Mwinilunga Safaris in Mana Pools, Goliath Safaris with Stretch Ferreira, Imvelo Safaris at Nehimba in Hwange National Park and The Amalinda Collection at Ivory Lodge.
Jim has a deep love for the bush and all it involves. He regards every day in the bush as a new page in a book and you just have to learn to read it. Jim boasts an extensive knowledge of Central and East African Fauna and Flora. He has an unparalleled passion for the big cats, especially Leopard. His other specialties are birding and studying animal behavior, he takes great pleasure in sharing these experiences and knowledge with clients. Jim makes the bush come alive for all those who accompany him in the bush. A keen and talented amateur photographer, Jim has a profound appreciation of the difficulty in getting that perfect shot so takes real pleasure in seeing his clients being given the opportunity to get those good photos whilst on safaris.