10 Questions for Kevin Mlay
Tanzanian guide Kevin Mlay tells us why the Spanish are best at Swahili, the etiquette for drying your underwear and the correct accompaniment for cooked bananas.
The Ngorongoro Crater
What are the best things about your home country, Tanzania
The people. Tanzanians are just so warm and welcoming, and we like socialising whenever possible. We have a very outgoing culture and are happy to interact with any tribe, even to the point of intermarrying, which is rare in many African countries. I think this makes Tanzania a peaceful and united country.
Of course there’s also the wildlife that you can find in all corners of the country, the beautiful landscapes and the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro.
What did you have to study to be become a guide?
I learned a lot of it on the job, but I volunteered at Kenya Museums in Nairobi so I could improve my knowledge of entomology, botany and ornithology. I enjoyed it so much I studied for a diploma in ornithology. When people think of Tanzania they often just think of lions and elephants, but the birds here are really beautiful.
Where is your favorite camp when working?
It’s hard for me to pick a favorite as they are all nice. But if I had to choose it would be Olakira Mobile Camp when it’s in the northern Serengeti, close to the wildebeest migration.
Which nationalities speak the best Swahili when they come on safari?
Those visiting from Spain tend to pick up Swahili better than the rest, probably because they speak the language as it is written, like we do. The main tip is to pronounce everything you see written down, and to give it a go.
What is a perfect day at work like for you?
A perfect day is when I am on safari with easy-going guests who appreciate nature, and want to absorb all the information and bush stories I have. Luckily that is what I get most of the time.
What's the scariest moment you've had as a guide?
It was a bit nerve-racking when I had to manage my clients during an encounter with three lionesses and six cubs at the Hippo Pool in the Serengeti. We were on foot and they were just ten metres from us. It made for some good stories around the fire that evening.
What's the funniest moment you've had as a guide?
We had a day where the Tanzanian sun failed to make its usual appearance at Ngorongoro Crater, and the rain soaked my group of five female clients. They ended up hanging out their underwear to dry inside my safari vehicle. Funny, but a little bit embarrassing!
What animals do you still get excited about seeing?
Cats! Always cats.
Where would you most like to travel to?
I’d love to go to the Galapagos Islands. For someone that loves nature, to see these animals that are not afraid of people would be incredible.
What food should people try when they are in Tanzania?
I would recommend cooked bananas and banana beer. They taste best at my home town on the slopes of Kilimanjaro.