Meet Your Guides: Willie Hombo

Written by Thomson Safaris

After every safari, we hear from guests that their guide was amazing, and that he “must be the best.” At this point, we’ve heard this about every single guide leading our trips!

We know that highly-skilled, friendly, attentive safari guides can make the difference between a good safari and an unforgettable one; that’s why we’re so honored to be able to work with so many amazing individuals, such as:  

Willie Hombo

Willie, you’ve been leading Thomson trips for a LONG time, right?

I have—I’ve been here since the very beginning! I started guiding trips for Thomson in 1980, so almost 35 years, now.


Tell us a little about yourself—where are you from? Do you have a big family?

I’m originally from Karatu. I waited to get married, so my kids are still very young: 5, 3, and 1 years old.


You’ve been at it so long: what’s your favorite part of being a guide?

Absolutely the wildlife. I love seeing all the animals. I also love birding—the longer I work as a guide, the more fascinating I find the bird species. But I also love meeting new people and learning from them. No matter how long you do this, that part never gets old!


Do you have a favorite park?

The Serengeti; it’s a very special place. It has savannah short-grass plains, savannah long-grass plains, woodlands, and the great migration; there’s just so much to see there!


What about a favorite animal?

They may not be pretty, but I love wildebeest! [laughs] They know their routes, they remember specific watering holes, and all that even though they only live about 15 years—I just think they’re fascinating!

Wildebeest in Tanzania

Photo: Thomson Safaris guest, Clarence Wong 

What’s your best wildlife-spotting trick?

The best way to find wildlife is to know the weather. I try to go where I think the rain is heading!


What animal would you like to see more often? You must have seen just about everything by now…

I have, but there are some animals I haven’t seen much! I’d like to spot more pangolins. In all the years I’ve been guiding, I’ve only seen two, at night in the western corridor.


If you could pick just one funny safari experience to share, what would it be?

That’s hard—I’ve been around so long I remember when we could travel wherever we wanted with an off-road permit! [laughs]. I do remember one time I was coming back from Rwanda, and I got into camp very late. We all went to look for firewood, and I found a dead tree, so I started to cut it up. Then, just a few feet away, a cape buffalo stands up—I hadn’t seen him since it was so dark. Buffalos are mean, so I started running. He chased me and I had to scramble up the tree I’d been chopping! Eventually, the driver came and rescued me, but I didn’t sleep much that night!


What do you want travelers to know about Tanzania?

There’s so much here to see! We have the best wildlife in the world, amazing beaches on Zanzibar, and even Kilimanjaro! Everyone should climb Kili. I’ve done it twice; the first time I climbed, it rained the whole time, so I had to go again and see it when it was drier! [laughs]

Safari guide Willie Hombo on a walking safariWillie guiding a walking safari
Photo: Thomson Safaris guest, Darrell Pardy