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Paul Hubbard

Biography

Born in Bulawayo, Paul has lived all over Zimbabwe both in town and in the wild - which he much prefers. He holds a couple of degrees in archaeology from the University of Zimbabwe and University College London. Paul currently works around the country as a professional tour guide specialising in the culture and history of Zimbabwe, and spending most of his time in the majestic and marvellous Matobo Hills World Heritage Site where he currently works exclusively from Camp Amalinda. He has been recently rated by Conde Nast Traveller (USA) as one of the top 25 guides in Africa and Vanity Fair (UK) magazine as one of the top 10 safari guides in Africa.

Paul has served as a project manager for both the Mother Africa Trust and the Matobo Rhino Initiative Trust (MRIT). For both organisations, he was responsible for creating and completing many projects focused on conservation and education in the Matobo Hills, Hwange and Bulawayo. With the MRIT, Paul was responsible for overseeing the construction of a fence around a portion of the Matopos National Park to assist with white and black rhino conservation efforts. This was completed in January 2015 and the positive results are very pleasing. He has also been an observer for the Black Eagle Survey in the Matopos since he was a teenager.

Working as an Associate Researcher at the Natural History Museum in Bulawayo, Paul continues with his archaeological and historical research as much as possible. He has published several papers, reviews and a few books on these subjects, including his latest books, Khami: Capital of the Torwa State(2014), Great Zimbabwe: Spirits, Stones and the Soul of the Nation (2015) (both co-authored with Rob Burrett), the second edition of Malindidzimu: A Guide To The People And Events Associated With The “View of the World”, Matopos (2014) (with Terence Ranger, Rob Burrett & Anthony Chennells) as well as Zimbabwe: A Simple History (2013) (written with Mark Igoe).

In his limited spare time, Paul enjoys hunting down obscure archaeological and historical sites in southern Africa and visiting them in the company of his long-suffering friends together with a GPS, camera, notebook and full cooler box. He occasionally plays golf and squash enthusiastically but not, it must be said, competently. Paul collects books and memorabilia relating to the history of Zimbabwe - his family jokingly claim he owns a library and museum with a bedroom attached!

Questions and Answers

When and why did you become a guide?

I feel I became a guide by accident. I am an archaeologist and a historian by trade and I used to teach at a local university. Over ten years ago, I was asked by a friend to take a guest of his around Zimbabwe for two weeks to look at archaeological and historic sites around the country. I truly enjoyed the experience and later decided to get my guide’s license in order to explore Zimbabwe in the company of guests full time. It has been extremely rewarding. I am so very fortunate to have discovered and to be able to follow my passions in life: education, archaeology, history and the natural world.

What is your most memorable experience as a guide?

Standing on top of the hill known as Malindidzimu or A View of the World, where Cecil Rhodes is buried in the Matobo Hills, and watching two separate rainstorms swirl around and gradually surround us while we stood in bright sunlight. The changing colours, magnificent cacophony and spectacular lightning have left an indelible memory of the awesome power of nature beneath which humanity can only stand in awe.

What moment were you most thrilled to have helped a client experience?

This may sound strange but one of the best experiences I can remember sharing with a guest was a 14km hike to an outstanding painted cave named Inanke in the Matobo Hills. He had phoned me from the US and said he wanted to specifically see this rock painting but could not walk very well. I said not to worry because we could do it together at our own pace! Our trip there and back took over 14 hours but the sheer joy on his face when after a rugged hike,  we walked into the cave and saw the magnificent art is something I treasure to this day. 

Top 3 favorite properties:

Top 3 favorite national parks:

Favorite cultural sites in Zimbabwe:

  • Great Zimbabwe World Heritage Site
  • Naletale National Monument
  • Bumbusi Ruins, Hwange National Park
  • Manemba Cave, near Harare
  • Zombepata Cave, northern Mashonaland

What is your favorite trip?

One of my favourite trips was the six weeks I spent driving around nearly the whole of Zimbabwe in 2009, visiting several National Parks, National Monuments and historic sites in the company of a good friend of mine from the US. We alternatively camped and stayed in lodges so got to experience a great mixture of upmarket accommodation and authentic bush life.

Somewhere you have always wanted to take guests but never have

The Bangwelu Swamps, near where David Livingstone died and where you can see a shoebill stork!

What's on your bucket list?

I am lucky enough to have already travelled in Africa extensively and seen many of the wonders this continent has to offer. I have an eclectic interest in the history and archaeology of the world and I feel my choices reflect that! Again, in no particular order but all very much desired, I would choose to go to Nyika Plateau National Park (Malawi), Wieliczka Salt Mine (Poland), Volubilis (Morocco), Carthage (Tunisia), Vredefort Dome (South Africa), Machu Picchu (Peru) and Teotihuacan (Mexico). 

Two things you always tells your guests to bring when traveling

Curiosity linked to an open mind.

Two things you think travelers should know about Africa (or Zimbabwe)

A trip to Africa (especially Zimbabwe!) will be one of the greatest experiences you will ever have; it will change how you see live your life for the better. The people you meet, their innovation, resilience and hospitality to outsiders leaves me in awe; you are welcomed almost everywhere you go. I would live nowhere else.

Camera or binocular recommendations?

I use a 10-year old pair of Konica Minolta 8x40 binoculars and a small Canon Powershot camera so perhaps I am not the best person to ask! I am buying a new pair of binoculars due to my love of birdwatching and have chosen Swarovski SLC 8x42 Optiks which have good all round performance for bird and game watching.

Do you have a specialty?

Knowledge of the history and development of southern Africa from the dawn of humanity to the present day in all its wonder and glory. More specifically, the archaeology and history of Zimbabwe is my passion.

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