Since 1997, husband and wife team – Nick and Des Murray – have been guiding in Mana Pools. Together they created what is known today as Bushlife Safaris in Mana Pools National Park, one of the most beautiful national parks in Africa.
Nick is well respected in the industry for his wealth of knowledge. He is a qualified Zimbabwean Professional Guide, one of the most prestigious game-guiding qualifications in Africa. Most recently, Nick was the lead guide on the BBC Earth Dynasties Painted Wolf episode. Nick is passionate about conservation and has established the Bushlife Painted Wolf Conservancy to protect the painted wolves of Mana Pools. His speciality is walking safaris, which offer a very unique experience compared to the traditional safari. Due to his deep knowledge and familiarity with the painted wolf packs of Mana Pools, going on a Bushlife Safaris walking safari to see them will be an unforgettable experience.
There’s nothing like your first encounter with a pack of painted wolves on foot: the excitement, fear and thrill of this incredible experience is much more memorable than a game drive where you simply tick off the big five! Escaping the confines of your 4×4 and exploring the bush on foot opens a whole new world to what safari is all about.
It gives one a new perspective of wildlife, as you, yourself, become part of it. You realise how much work it is just to stay alive in the bush, and you can feel how vulnerable animals further down the food chain feel. At any given moment they, or you, could become prey, which gives you a new sense of respect. One of the best camps in Zimbabwe to experience this is Vundu Camp, situated in the heart of Mana Pools National Park, underneath a beautiful forest of riverine trees.
Nick has been following and tracking the painted wolves of Mana Pools for over a decade. Indeed it was the long-term knowledge of them which lead to the BBC Earth crew picking Vundu Camp as the base for the episode.
Working and guiding the BBC Earth crew film “Dynasties Painted Wolf” was one of the most exciting projects Nick and Des have ever worked on. With over 850 days of filming over 4 years, the crew became firm friends with each other – and the painted wolves! The normally reserved painted wolves started to recognise the crew and even left their puppies in the den one day for the crew to “watch over” whilst the pack went on a hunt!
No story would be complete without its own cast and star to which Tait, one of the most “famous” painted wolf, takes centre stage. There are only 6,600 painted wolves left in the world, and their numbers are decreasing. To date, 280 are from Tait’s own bloodline which is a significant contribution to the future of this endangered animal – an incredible 4% of all wild dogs are from Tait.
Nick has known Tait her whole life. As described by Nick Lyon, the episode producer, “Our guide, Nick Murray, has known Tait her whole life. She was incredibly trusting of him. The fact that it was Nick who introduced us to Tait transferred her trust for Nick to us”. This becomes even more exceptional when you find out that Tait, the painted wolf, is actually named after Tait – Nick’s daughter! The Painted Wolf dynasty is definitely intertwined with the Murray family dynasty. And now it’s your turn to visit family – our family of Painted Wolves! Get in touch now for bookings.
Tait, alpha of Vundu pack. Photo credit: BBC NHU