Mark Homann is one of our favorite private guides to work with. Mark grew up in Zimbabwe and has spent the past the past 20+ years in the safari industry, managing camps and guiding clients throughout East and Southern Africa. He now lives in the US (one of only two fully qualified Zimbabwe Professional Guides based in the United States) with his wife Maria and their two young children, and continues to guide safaris through out Africa.
We got him to answer a few questions for us about his experiences as a private guide.
When and why did you become a guide?
I started guiding in 1992. I grew up out outdoors, as many children did in Zimbabwe in the 70s & 80s. Even our schools were in rural areas and they had a strong focus on wildlife and natural history. So with a passion for wild places from a young age, it was hard to imagine doing anything else. I have to say that I have been very fortunate to have never looked back and have loved every minute.
Your most memorable experience as a guide
Probably spending time with the large herds of elephant that congregate around the waterholes in Hwange National Park at the height of the dry season are some of my most memorable experiences. It is easy to sit for hours marveling at their shear magnificent presence. But walking through the Malilangwe Hills, sitting with gorillas in Rwanda or floating down the Lower Zambezi in a canoe are all close seconds!
Safari moment you were most thrilled to have helped a client experience
People are the most important facet of being a guide. Seeing your guests feel the emotion of Africa is the most thrilling and rewarding aspect of what we do. To see the wonder in people's eyes as they experience the thrill of a 100 thousand wildebeest pouring across the Mara river or the joy of watching wild chimpanzees interact all around you. Africa is a feast for human emotions and experiences that will touch even the most distracted mind.
Top 3 favorite properties
1) Singita Pamushana in southeast Zimbabwe,
2) Vumbura Plains in the Okavango Delta in Botswana
3) The Singita properties in Grumeti Reserve in the Western Serengeti of Tanzania
It is so hard to say as there are so many great camps in Africa and new properties opening all the time. The new Mwiba River Lodge in the Serengeti is a good example of a new lodge that has great potential.
Top 3 favorite national parks
1) Definitely the Serengeti, it is the Eden I dreamed of as a child, so much to learn and to see, from the dawn of mankind to the greatest wildlife spectacles on the planet.
2) Mana Pools on the Lower Zambezi in Zimbabwe for its beauty and remoteness.
3) The greater Kalahari ecosystem of Botswana and Zimbabwe for it harsh dry seasons and huge herds of big game.
Your favorite trip
I can't say one single safari is my favorite but it would definitely one that includes a great variety of animals, landscapes and experiences. Maybe Northern Tanzania and Rwanda or a combination of the Kalahari, the Lower Zambezi and the lowveld areas of southeastern Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Somewhere you have always wanted to take guests but never have?
Wilderness Safaris new camps in the forests of Odzala National Park (you can read more about lowland gorilla tracking in Odzala here)
What's on your bucket list?
Without question the forests of Gabon and Equatorial Africa.
2 things you always tells your guests to bring when traveling
Enthusiasm and an open-mind.
2 things you think guests should know about Africa
It is safe and it will be the best experience you could imagine.
Camera or binocular recommendations?
There are many great brands available but for a good camera, Canon or Nikon with a good lens. For binoculars I prefer Swarovski Optiks but there are many good options as long as they are 8 x 30 or 10 x 40.
Do you have a specialty?
It is hard for me to have a specialty as a guide as I have visited so many different places across Africa and there is always more to learn and discover in so many different fields. I love history, people, photography, Africa and wildlife, what else is there?