Through the eyes of Sammy Lemiruni

Q. What is the most exciting / memorable story / sighting?
A. I would have to say it was the occasion that served as the gateway for me becoming a guide. It was back when I was a spotter (before Saruni) and I was with two guests and the guide and the vehicle encountered a problem. The guide was unsure how to fix it though I insisted I was able to. After the guide finally gave the go ahead I was indeed able to fix it and we could continue on. When we got back to the lodge the guests told the owner of the occasion. A month later those same guests came back and specifically requested I take them on safari – it was a very exciting moment in my life and my career!

Q. Why do you love Kenya?
A. It is a country of diversity. Throughout the reserves and parks in Kenya there are geographically unique and beautiful areas and they are preserved through conservation efforts. It is not just the beauty of the parks and reserves but it is how, in every corner of Kenya, there are always people smiling.

Q. What’s the strangest / funniest thing you have ever been asked?
A. Politics. Sometimes guests ask particularly detailed political questions of areas far away from where we are. Some people come here and speak politics of their home country; though I tend to offer knowledge of politics in Kenya in its’ entirety of a country.

Q. When was the last time the wildlife of Samburu scared you?
A. Quite recently – about 4 days ago actually! I was on a game drive with two guests and we were in a lot of greenery, amongst the Salvador Pasica trees or “Tooth Brush” trees and we were looking for leopard. We were close to a herd of elephants grazing peacefully and suddenly they started to run – I knew something was up. Then suddenly from the right a bull elephant trumpeted and charged only then for another bull elephant to charge from the left. I stepped on the accelerator and got us out of there. The elephant continued charging after us for a couple of seconds more before stopping.

Q. What motivated you to become a guide?
A. It was in high school when the aspects of a guiding life became a passion of mine. I joined a wildlife club in school and we had meetings with other organizations like ‘Save the Elephants’ in which they tested our knowledge all the meanwhile expanding it. After I finished high school I went home to look after my cattle though within 6 months I wanted to further my true passion. I came to Kalama conservancy (several years ago before Saruni) and though there were no positions available the company offered me a beginning position as a dishwasher. There were some guests in-house whose children began to recognize me and with whom I became friends. The guests then asked the owner if I could accompany them for the rest of their safari. Following this, the owner asked if I could continue on and offered to pay my college fees where I obtained a diploma in Tourism Management as well as a diploma in Tour Guiding Administration. In 2011, I sat for my Bronze guiding accreditation where I received the highest marks of 90 others sitting for their Bronze which allowed me to graduate from a driver/ spotter into a full time guide. 3 years after my professional career in the bush, I sat for my Silver and next year I am going for the Gold!

Q. What makes Saruni different?
A. Saruni is extremely unique. The lodge is located in a conservancy where you do not see a single other camp nor any traffic. If we want to go into the reserve, it is only a short drive but it is stunning being based in the conservancy itself. Saruni has a strong standard of hospitality, guiding, and management, and representative of a top quality Safari.

Q. What is your favourite animal species in Samburu?
A. The reticulated giraffe. They are extremely beautiful and they are doing well in numbers, unlike for example, the Rothschild’s giraffe which is facing a diminishing number, the reticulated giraffe steadily thrives in Samburu.

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