Meet Your Guides: Kumbi Salim

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:  

Kumbi Salim

Tell us a little about yourself: where are you from, do you have a family, how long have you worked for Rick and Judi—you know, the basics!

I’m originally from Singida, in the center of the country, and I’m married with five children. They’re all girls so I’m a little outnumbered [laughs]. I’ve been working for Rick and Judi for over 25 years, now, since 1986.


What’s your favorite part about being a guide?

Definitely the wildlife viewing. Even after all these years, it never gets any less amazing!


Do you have a favorite park? A favorite animal?

My favorite park is definitely Tarangire. It has different views, lots of hills and valleys, and drives along the river are always spectacular. As far as a favorite animal, it’s any and all cats. The way they move, and stalk their prey, it’s just beautiful to watch.


Do you have any “tricks of the trade” that help you find wildlife?

Generally, it’s much easier to spot herds of herbivores than it is to spot predators. But I’ve found if you know what to look for when you’re watching the grazers, you can see much more; if they’re extra alert, there’s probably a predator around, so it’s worth waiting to see if you can witness a dramatic predator/prey encounter.


Is there an animal you’ve never seen on safari, or one you’d like to see more often?

Just once, in the [Ngorongoro] crater, I spotted a golden cat. They’re incredibly rare, especially in Tanzania—they’re more common in West Africa. I’ll never forget it; it’s truly a beautiful animal.

Golden cats are nocturnal and extremely shy; little is known about the species.
Photo: “FelisAurataKeulemans” by John Gerrard Keulemans – Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1873 (web). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen on safari?

Once I saw a male baboon hunting a baby impala. Most people assume baboons are herbivores, and that they only eat fruit, but this one managed to successfully hunt—and eat—an antelope!


What would you want to tell potential travelers about Tanzania?

Just how friendly the people are. Typical Tanzanians are different from other East Africans; they’re social and generous to a fault. If you got lost in the middle of the night in Tanzania, you could go to anyone’s house—to a total stranger—and you’d be welcomed.