Celebrating Willie Hombo’s 38 Years as a Safari Guide

Written by Thomson Safaris

We began taking travelers on safari in Tanzania in 1981, and the very first guide we worked with was a kind, knowledgeable, enthusiastic man named Willie Hombo. Nearly forty years later, Willie holds all those same qualities and more safari experience than most can imagine.

He’s trading in his adventures in the Serengeti for a happy retirement shortly, so we’re taking a moment to reflect on our 38-year partnership and say thank you.

Nearly Four Decades of Teamwork – with Rick Thomson

first employees with bedford trucks

Tanzania tourism was in its infancy in the 80s. There were no cellphones, and communication was tricky. Long range fuel tanks were a necessity and once you were in the bush, you were on your own.

It was into this world I hired Willie. He was the first Tanzanian we employed, and so it’s really special he is still with us. Willie was always up for anything. Nothing was too much trouble, too hard or too dirty. He was the ultimate team member. He grew with the company and soon understood every aspect because he was part of it all.

One time, we were driving after a few days of rain, and the clay road (really a goat track) was just miserable. Suddenly, there was all this doomsday noise coming from the truck transmission. For sure a gear had lost a tooth or some such. There was not much we could do then and there, so we carried on and limped into the campsite with knots in our stomachs – that dreadful feeling of knowing something bad had happened and not really knowing what to do about it.

We set the camp up, got cooking and after all the safari guests had eaten dinner, Willie and I decided we should remove the transmission right there in the campsite and have a look inside. We pulled it to pieces, cleaned it all up in a gallon of diesel fuel and inspected everything with the kitchen light and flashlights.

We found the problem, came up with a plan and then reassembled all the bits and re-installed the transmission that very night. We didn’t get much sleep, but the next morning after breakfast we carried on with the safari with no lost time for the guests.

It was always an adventure with Willie. He’s still the same, willing to go anywhere, do anything.  He can lead a group of four or a group of 50 and bring them all back smiling.

Some Words From Our Friends and Guests

That’s no exaggeration; Willie left a remarkable impression on everyone he met, colleagues, guests, friends, everyone. We can’t possibly say enough about him, so we got some help from some past travelers, too.

Here’s what they shared about Willie.

willie hombo guiding

We love Willie!! His wisdom, experience, patience and goodwill made each day terrific!
– Mace Hack and Rosie Zweiback

The best!!! Knowledgeable combined with humor! One of a kind! We were so lucky to have had him!
– Jennifer Benefit

safari guide with thomson since 1981

Willie is a treasure. He went out of his way to make me a walking stick so I could walk around the camp more easily. He’s incredibly knowledgeable about wildlife and makes great wild animal noises.
– Frances Sajewicz

willie hombo with thomson guides

Willie was the best. He had so much knowledge and competency. Rick and Judi made the right move having him as their first employee. He explained everything, sighted lots of animals and knew where to go to find them. We were able to see most of our bucket list because of Willie. I will miss him!
– Wendy Grasso

Willie is BRILLIANT. He is a source of incredible knowledge, comedic relief and so much experience. He truly made the trip. Thank you, thank you, Willie.
– Nina Friedman

camp celebration with guide willie

Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous – and very funny. We want him on our next trip.
– Doree Friedman and Kirsten Kuhlmann

The best – A great man, a wonderful gentleman, a pillar of the community and country.
– Virginia and Daniel Wight

You can not get better than Willie.
– The Schmidt family

thomson guides in serengeti with willie hombo

We just loved Willie! He is full of knowledge and very enthusiastic and fun to be around. We learned so much! Thank you, Willie!
– Tammy Green and Donald Sloss

Willie was spectacular! So knowledgeable, helpful in every way and kind. He really made the safari.
– Binnie Estrada

Take the best safari guide you can think of and then multiply that by 10. That’s what people think of Willie – us included.

willie hombo thomson guide

From all of us at Thomson Safaris, asante sana, Willie! Welcome to a happy and well-earned retirement.