MEET OUR SAFARI DRIVER GUIDE: Emillian Nicodemus Matay
Easy Travel would not be where we are today without our experienced safari drivers. So, let us first introduce you to Emillian, who’s working with us for 24 years!
I developed my interest in nature in childhood. I would follow my father, who was a forest officer, when he was going to the forest adjacent to our village to collect plant seeds for their office research. I would accompany him to the forest with our family dog. The forest was rich with wildlife: many plant species and wild animals such us dik-diks, duikers, bushbucks, impalas, and even some leopards. I fell in love with nature and thought I could work for the wildlife department someday. This childhood experience also motivated me to learn about wildlife so I can teach it to other people. After finishing secondary school, I met with Nigel Perk (the former owner of Gibbs farm lodge) at Karatu village where I developed a friendship with him. Eventually, I mentioned being interested in becoming a guide – he was overjoyed to hear, as they were planning to start a tour company. He invited me to join their team at their lodge.
They immediately started training me in different areas: hotel and hospitality, office work, mechanics, and driving. Guiding itself was a huge subject: it comprises a wide variety of fields like walking safaris, mountain climbing, bird watching, mammal knowledge, trees, wildflowers, geology, archaeology, anthropology, and, of course, first aid. It took me several years but during this time I learned so much – with the incredible fortune of learning at the hands of and meeting many internationally renowned conservationists, anthropologists, and archaeologists. I consider myself very lucky to have passed through those hands.
I also attended Mount Meru College in Wildlife Studies. After graduating, I gained my driver’s license and from there I officially became a tour guide! I love seeing the difference between meeting new clients at the airport and waving goodbye at the same place. In the beginning, they are total strangers. However, under my guidance they leave our country and leave a piece of their heart here by admitting that this country is one of their favorites.
I joined Easy Travel in July 1998. I sent my application to five different travel companies which all had welcomed me to join, but I chose to work with Easy Travel. They were a medium-size company, well-organized, and friendly. I immediately liked the boss’s sense of humour and found him to be very approachable. I also got the opportunity to learn Chinese through Easy Travel. People usually describe me as being very honest, easygoing, and caring. I have been married for the past 26 years and I have three children: two boys and one girl. My oldest son is 25, my second son is 23, and my youngest is a girl of 9. We live in the Muriet district which is about 6 kilometres south of Arusha.
Favorite Park in Tanzania
Serengeti National Park. The habitat is so spread out, and by visiting this park, I can explore a multitude of wildlife. Serengeti has the richest biodiversity and ecosystem with an incredible number of cats: over 3000 lions, 9000 spotted hyenas, 1500 leopards, and 600 cheetahs. There’s also the great wildebeest migration, which is a unique phenomenon that happens nowhere else in the world!
The African Elephant. The elephant is the keystone species that opens new habitats for other creatures and helps reshape the land. Without them, most places in Africa would be impenetrable. As a result, elephants save the lives of many wild animals, so they are a very important animal in the wild. Elephants are also very intelligent – they can dig for water during dry season and create a well unlike other animals who depend on the open holes.
Plain cooked banana and meat stew. My favourite kind of banana is a local variety known as ‘matoke’. This is our traditional food and it is very popular in parts of Tanzania.
I like sports, especially soccer. I’m a fan of Liverpool Football Club from the English Premier League, and the Dar Es Salaam Young African Club in our local league.
Favorite TV Show
My favorite television shows are Planet Earth and National Geographic Wild. As a nature lover I really enjoy them and I still learn many things on top of the knowledge I already have regarding animals, birds, and geography.
Favorite Singer / band
I love Bob Marley and the Wailers. I also really like country music like Don Williams and Jim Reeves.
10 Questions with EMILLIAN
on safari? I have seen many incredible sightings in my time, but one that I will never forget was a male leopard fighting a female leopard. It was a long fight, but once one of them killed the other, it proceeded to feed on the body. The fact that I had seen this entire exchange left me completely speechless – in all my years of being a guide in national parks, I had no idea that a leopard would feed on another leopard.
With this itinerary, clients can opt to do walking safari either in Tarangire or Lake Manyara National Park to experience the wildlife closer.
Day 1: Arrival Day overnight Arusha.
Day 2: Game drive and walking safari in Arusha National Park.
Day 3: Game drive in Tarangire.
Day 4: Game drive in Lake Manyara National Park.
Day 5: Game drive in Central Serengeti.
Day 6 & 7: Game drive in North Serengeti.
Day 8: Half-day game drive in North and Central Serengeti.
Day 9: Half-day central Serengeti. Overnight in Ngorongoro.
Day 10: Crater tour- Arusha/Departure.
Although all months are good, February is my favorite because the weather is cool and rainy. The parks are all green, and many animals can be easily seen during game drives. Furthermore, it is the peak season for wildebeest calving, which is always happening in the Ndutu region. A lot of predator action can be spotted during this month because of the young wildebeest calves.
? Calving season in Ndutu is my favorite part of the great migration. During this season we can experience the real process of calving and witness the large numbers of newborns starting their life in the wild.
Jambo – “Hello” – This is the key greeting to all people of different ages.
Asante sana – “Thank you” – Use this work for appreciation after receiving a gift or service.
Hapana tafadhali – “No, thank you” – This is a polite way of rejecting or declining something.