Zimbabwe’s Legendary Guides: Peter Gava

Cultures & Communities

Peter Gava


I was born in 1962 in the city of Gweru in the Midlands Province of Zimbabwe. My upbringing was in mixed urban and rural backgrounds, in Gweru and Bulawayo cities and the Gokwe/Gwanda rural areas. I grew up an animal and nature lover, collecting birds’ eggs, hand-raising doves and being fascinated by small mammals.


My parents finally settled in rural Gokwe communal lands close to Chirisa National Park, where Sengwa Wildlife Research Institute of Wildlife is located. My mother used to work for the local researchers and ecologists, putting together impala tags for the Impala Research Project. Although I liked playing with my plastic “rag” soccer ball, I was more interested in watching these researchers capture warthog in our crop field. The researchers told my parents they could see my potential talent and future as a conservationist.



On completing high school, I got a job as a senior primary school teacher in the local area close to the research station. Among the subjects I taught was environmental science, which I loved and shared with much enthusiasm. The kids loved it too. The curriculum involved visiting the research station for practical lessons, where the rangers took us on game drives, and we were debriefed by the senior ecologist. The kids asked him thought-provoking questions about nature and ecology in general. When he found out I was the teacher, he was reminded of his previous interaction with me in my childhood, and his discussion with my parents about his assumptions for my future career. He then secretly went to my father to ask him to convince me to leave the school and join the research team.



I refused at first as I was very happy at the school. However, the researchers were very persistent, so I finally consented, on the understanding that I would try it out and then return after the school holidays to the kids I loved. Truthfully, I was afraid of lions and wild animals, but also respected them. I was given a warm welcome on my first day at the research station, and was handed a smart uniform and flown around the park, observing the beautiful scenery and all the different animals from the air. After a month of work, I was hooked. I did not go back to the school and 36 years later… I am still here, for life!


During my 14 years of service with the Department of National Parks Terrestrial Research, I had the pleasure of guiding and interacting with many external scientists and researchers, on various projects like wild dog, lion, rhino, vegetation, geology, hydrology, meteorology and weather, animal population and census counts. The exposure to these and other nature-related topics triggered my wish to become a qualified Professional Guide and Guide Trainer, all of which I happily achieved because I also wished to influence my local community members and inspire them to get involved in conservation.



So after 11 years of service with Parks Research I then enrolled for, and passed, my Learner Professional Hunter Guide exams. My achievements were rewarded with a scholarship to study at the College of African Wildlife Management at Mweka in Tanzania, where I attained a Diploma in Wildlife Management. I then came back to Zimbabwe and quickly went for my proficiency test and completed my Professional Guide’s course.



I have guided in Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Zambia and Namibia.


I have worked for Wilderness for two years, my first year being based at Davison’s Camp, but also did relief guiding at Makalolo, Little Makalolo and Linkwasha. I am currently based at Linkwasha Camp in Hwange National Park.


I love guiding because it connects me to people traveling from all over the world, while placing me as a representative for my community and country. The concept of inclusive wildlife and management of our resources entails sustainable conservation and means a brighter future for our planet. As a guide and naturalist I keep learning from both my guiding colleagues and travellers as we constantly share knowledge. It is in this regard that as a nature fanatic I chose to pursue a BSc Geography and Environmental Studies, which I am currently summing up. The more I can keep acquiring knowledge, the more I can understand world conservation issues in comparison to my own country or village and upbringing.



I love to work and guide for Wilderne because it offers an exceptional model of a tourism company that truly supports local communities in so many ways. I have been witness to the schools, clinics, community vegetable gardens and water-provision projects, all of which have been implemented and run by the Wilderness Wildlife Trust. Students at various levels of education have been sponsored, and school teachers have been promoted through these life-changing programmes. The wildlife has been supported through the game water supply project, and huge employment opportunities have been created.



Who would not want to guide or work for such a phenomenal company? Who would not wish to remain with the best, and who would not love to have a life-changing experience? I love guiding, I love Hwange National Park and I love Zimbabwe. Long live our travellers, our people, nature and planet!

"I love guiding, I love Hwange National Park and I love Zimbabwe. "

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