Kwihala Camp has a well-deserved reputation for the top level of guides and guiding that guests enjoy while visiting Ruaha National Park. Here we introduce you to the personalities you will encounter when you travel to this magically remote outpost of truly wild Africa.
Festo Ntayaye was born in 1974 to a father who was a game ranger in Rungwa and Selous Game Reserves. Festo accompanied his Dad on numerous patrols and thus developed a fascination for nature and the wildlife they observed. After school, Festo completed a one year course in guiding and started working as a guide in Selous Game Reserve where he conducted drives and walks, sharing his knowledge and experiences with guests. After a few years in Selous he found an opportunity to guide in Ruaha National Park, which is situated next to his childhood haunt of Rungwa. Here he honed his skills as a guide and excelled as an interpreter of all things wild. Today he is still in Ruaha and his passion for the Park is clearly visible. Festo really enjoys bird-watching as well as taking time to calmly sit and observe the events around him as they happen. “This way one is able to really get to understand how things fit together” he says.
Lorenzo Rossi was born in Italy in 1984. On completing his studies in Economic Engineering in Milan in 2009 he decided to visit Tanzania to enjoy his passion for nature. He visited Arusha and Kwihala Camp in Ruaha and then decided to make tourism and guiding in Tanzania his career. “Wild, spectacular, exclusive. Ruaha is still a mostly unexplored park. It’s the largest national park in Tanzania and only maybe 4% of it is really regularly touched by game drive routes. I have never seen a concentration of lions like here, the number of elephants is outstanding,” he says. He first took a course in South Africa and gained his level 1 in guiding with FGASA (Field Guide Association of Southern Africa). He loves football, tennis, fishing and just to be out in the bush. He speaks English, Italian and Kiswahili.
Since 1992 Marius Swart has been passionately sharing the splendours of nature with friends and strangers alike. With a penchant for walking safaris he developed a sense of awareness and pace, which provides for an experience of being an observer rather than a participant in Nature’s flow of events. Considering himself as a generalist, as his interests are as divergent as nature itself, he thrives in discovering new wild places and piecing together the components that underpin their cycles. Preferring small groups of guests and quiet concessions, this has led him to some spectacular and unknown regions where interpretation occurs naturally and spontaneously, as the events and behaviour displayed by the wildlife are observed. Of Ruaha, he has this to say:”Besides the astounding biodiversity, topography, incredible elephant and lion encounters, it is the fact that for most part, it is not overrun!” Marius enjoys photography, adventure motorcycling and flying as hobbies when he isn’t “working”.
Pietro Luraschi has this to say of Ruaha: “Around every corner is a surprise, every few kilometres there is a different landscape unravelling in front of your eyes. Riverine forests, open plains, combretum woodlands, huge granite kopjes, all within easy reach. Small dirt roads moving slowly through a great wilderness, huge number of elephant making the bush alive, a hectic cat population that year after year keeps us wondering about the complexity of natural patterns, entire baobab forests with an eerie edge that speaks of ancient beliefs, all this is Ruaha, all this peppered with a constant sense of discovery.”Pietro’s passion for Africa took him to the continent first as a volunteer in the Tarangire Lion Project, a research project on the lion population in the Tarangire National Park in Northern Tanzania. He studied to become a professional guide in South Africa in the Kruger National Park, where he received his qualifications for ARH (Advanced Rifle Handling) and Level 2 qualification from FGASA (Field Guide Association of Southern Africa), the most accredited association of safari guides in Africa. He also received a qualification as a Trails Guide, again from FGASA, regarding the conduct of walking safaris in areas with potentially dangerous game. This was obtained at Beho Beho in Tanzania. He has worked as a guide and as camp manager in southern Tanzania in two of the wildest and most untouched areas in the African continent, Ruaha National Park and Selous Game Reserve. During these years he has heightened his knowledge of the bush by working for three different camps, Mdonya Old River Camp, Selous Impala Camp and Lake Manze Camp. He also speaks Kiswahili.
From an early age Steve Roskelly has been preoccupied with wildlife and nature and his working life has been spent in the field of nature reserves, wild animals and wide-open spaces. Living in, and having travelled extensively in, Southern Africa, he realises that nature is where his heart and passion lies. Private and guiding journeys to the wilderness areas of Tanzania, Botswana and Namibia have re-enforced his keen desire for travel and the exploration of unknown habitats and their natural inhabitants. Guiding experience from open vehicles, on foot and in light aircraft, from low veldt savannas to lowland sand forests and rugged coastlines are among Steve’s repertoire of working activities. In addition to guiding, Steve has also spent time training the next generation of Field Guides based in various reserves across the Limpopo lowveld. Steve’s formal credentials include a degree in Botany & Zoology as well as top guiding and tracking qualifications from the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa. Steve’s passion for nature and photography together with his bush-skills, honed over many years as a wildlife guide, have taught him to be humble in the presence of the wildlife that surrounds us. “Ruaha is a special place with a beautiful and inspiring landscape and some of the most incredible savanna wildlife viewing in Africa,” he says.
Sandy Mellet is a third generation Zimbabwean with a passion for nature and outdoor life. She completed her Junior and Senior school studies in Zimbabwe and then went on to train to become a qualified chef at Christina Martin School of Food and Wine in Durban, South Africa. After working and travelling for several years abroad, Sandy was very happy to return back to Africa. She branched out into Front of House management when she moved to Zanzibar in 2006. In 2012 she found her home with Asilia, managing their Zanzibar property Matemwe Lodge and Retreat for two years. She was very happy to get the opportunity to go back to the bush, which she is so passionate about, to manage Kwihala Camp in Ruaha National Park.
With their vast combination of knowledge and experience, coupled with skills ranging from photography to the art of vehicle maintenance, plus a dash of great humour, charm and hospitality, our team at Kwihala are what makes many of our guests keep returning to this amazing place again and again!