Meet the Team
If you’re looking for an authentic safari experience, look no further than TopGuides Safaris. Founder, Victor Nyakiriga, along with each of his hand selected guides, delivers safari experiences and cultural interaction from a local’s perspective. Meet the team…
Our leader, Founder of Topguides Safaris, Victor Nyakiriga“On a safari, it’s not what you see that matters, it’s how you see it.” –Victor
Victor is our most requested guide and the head of TopGuides Safaris. With his huge smile and Eddie Murphy laugh, our clients say they choose him above all others because he’s a lot of fun, he tells great stories, and he has very high standards.
Victor grew up with his grandparents in a small village outside the Serengeti. His grandfather was a guide who took him often to track animals so even from a very young age he could spot and predict animal behaviors without formal training.
This led him to graduate Wildlife College at the top of his class and eventually be hired by one of the most prestigious camps in all of Tanzania where he quickly rose to become a guide trainer.
Instead of staying in Arusha as most guides do, Victor moved into a national park for this training where he also began to track a specific pride of lions, cheetahs, leopards, elephants, and rare rhinos by naming them. This additional interaction with the animals gave him an even deeper understanding of their behaviors which landed him among a very short list of favorite guides for top photographers from around the world as well as big safari groups including the National Geographic Society.
He has an amazing gift for good storytelling and our clients say they feel like they’re bringing home a piece of Tanzania when they see it through Victor’s eyes. They also think he should have his own t.v. show and that he should expand into other countries but that’s something for another day. ..read more
“I spent two years researching safaris online and talking to others who had been to Africa previously. I was in search of the perfect experience, and I found it with Victor and his team at TopGuides Safaris. Each day of our safari provided us with spectacular experiences that far exceeded our expectations. The wealth of knowledge and experience that Victor and his team possess made it possible for us to see animals in their native environment that we never dreamed possible. The circle of life was a daily occurrence as we saw lions mating, cubs nursing, and a cheetah mother teaching her babies to hunt and kill. Zebras, giraffes, elephants, gazelles, hyenas, warthogs, etc. were all seen in abundance. We learned about the beautiful Baobab and Acacia trees as well as a plethora of birds and other small animals. Our accommodations were beautiful and luxurious. All of this while spending our days riding in the jeep with Victor and his amazing guides. Personable, friendly, and extremely knowledgeable, they made each day a fun new adventure.” — Kathy Sullivan
“Victor is one of those unique individuals who makes the process of planning and executing a well designed tour appear invisible. He can relax with his crew and clients after creating an experience they will never forget. I hold him in the highest esteem and feel his guiding company name of “Top Guides Safaris ” is apt. He pays attention to the details, and it shows. ” — Margery Franklin
“TopGuides Safaris contributed to an experience of a lifetime during my recent adventure in Tanzania. All the guides were friendly, knowledgeable, and went above and beyond. There was not a single moment that I did not feel absolutely safe with them in their vehicles. They know the people, the land and the wildlife. I would use them again in a heartbeat.” — Genevieve Mayberry
“I highly recommend Victor’s company TopGuildes Safaris for anyone wishing to have the ultimate experience in safaris. His guides are so professional and educated in what they do. They are also true gentlemen. Victor and his crew took care of us and we didn’t have to worry about a thing. He also exposed us to some of the best wildlife adventures and African culture and landscapes that anyone could imagine. All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you.” — Hope Sieradzki
“Outstanding job Victor. You and your team were fantastic and a joy to be around. Many different personalities that all work well together. Would definitely recommend you and your team to anyone going to the area. Hopefully will get to have your services again in the future.” — John Keselyak
“Top Guides Safaris guides are caring, thoughtful and experienced guides who clearly love what they do and want to share that love with their clients. They consistently went above and beyond their duties to make sure that we were thrilled by our experience, both in the field and at each of the lodges where we stayed. They were generous and kind, and I couldn’t possibly have expected more. I highly recommend them to anyone who is considering a trip to Tanzania.” — Alex and Denise Dominick
“Victor is one of the best guides and safari in all Africa. His camera and photography knowledge with his willingness to help is wonderful. It is always a pleasure to travel with Victor It’s really great to see him working with the guides to help them improve their skills.” – Wayne Simpson
“The TopGuides Safaris Team, with Victor at the helm, was a great pleasure to be with. Throughout our trip I felt very safe and comfortable riding in their jeeps. Each one was highly knowledgeable about the animals and birds that they identified for us. They were very alert and were able to spot an animal in the far distance so that we were able to photograph and video it. And as to Victor, not only is he whipper snapper intelligent and knowledgeable, he has a charming sense of humor that made everyday being with him pure delight.” — Terry Huntingdon Tydings. -Read Less
Francis Thomas, Top Guide“I’m a guide who just loves to have fun with every group on safari. I specialize in helping the clients’ African wildlife dreams come true right before their eyes!” –Francis
Francis Thomas Kijazi was born and raised in Arusha where he attended Wildlife College to study wildlife management and conservation. After obtaining his diploma, Francis became a teacher at the college in the subjects he had studied. Although he enjoyed teaching and continued for 3 ½ years, he decided he really wanted to work in the field as a tour guide. He joined one of the largest tour companies in Arusha and worked with their team for four years before joining TopGuides Safaris. From the varied landscapes to the wild mammals, Francis loves everything about leading safaris. ..read more
He is most fascinated by the birds and on every adventure, he makes sure his guests remember at least 15 birds. “I believe birds are taken for granted but there’s much more to them than meets the eye.”
When Francis isn’t leading safaris, you’ll find him in Arusha working on his Hip Hop music career. He’s known by his nickname “Chaba” which he picked up in his high school rap competitions where he was a “freestyle hurricane.” You can catch Chaba’s videos on his YouTube channel, Chaba 009.
“I especially appreciated the fact that Francis is a birder. He knows the birds of East Africa inside and out. Given the huge variety and complexity of bird IDs in Tanzania, that’s saying something. I know birds of North America but my knowledge of African birds is pretty limited. I enjoyed riding with Francis because he not only knew the birds so well, he wanted to stop for any new birds as much as I did. He also gave me a lot of tips on the more subtle ID characteristics of many of the birds we saw. I think our group as a whole saw over 140 species and according to Francis, that was a record for these excursions and thanks to Francis, I was able to photograph quite a few of them. I added a lot of new birds to my life list…something that’s become increasingly difficult for me to do with just North American birds.” — John Nelson
I was super impressed with Francis’ knowledge and insight. I think he did the best to anticipate the animals and put us in the right position at the right time to capture amazing photos.” — Cindy Pilch
‘Francis was a wealth of information (almost like an encyclopedia) in addition to being a whole lot of fun. He improvised a rap a song about each of us one night following dinner! He obviously loved his job and was very very good at making sure all of us would leave this trip with the best memories’–Gyle Irwin
Our driver was THE BEST, Francis. He was an incredible guide, spotting things way sooner than we would have and he was so much fun! I miss him!!
Francis, Chaba, was our guide. Everything about him was perfect for the trip – he had a couple of tough customers and he handled them extremely well. He was extremely knowledgeable about the wildlife we saw, but didn’t overwhelm us with it – he shared relevant info and more if we asked for it. -Read Less
Juma Msangia.k.a. "Kitembo" which means Little Elephant , Juma Msangi,
Possibly the sweetest guide you’ll ever meet, Juma gets his nickname Little Elephant because you can’t help but want to hug him.
Born in the bush outside the Pare mountains, Juma grew up in the small, fishing village of Usangi beside the famous Lake Jipe and some of the most beautiful woodlands in all of Tanzania.
In college he studied astronomy, first aid, ecology, birding and the diverse cultures of Tanzania. But it’s his friendly hosting, fascinating stories and wide interest in the unusual that make him so-often requested.
More than any other guide, our clients say they want to bring Juma home with them. And that with Juma as your guide, you will always have a friend in Tanzania.
His warm heart is great for honeymooners, families and couples on romantic tours of Tanzania who want their trip to be extra special. He’s also a great choice for those looking for a more personal experience when they travel — not a typical tourist tour.
“Top Guides Safaris definitely gets the gold star in my book. Having been on other safaris before, I can say with certainty that its driver/guides greatly surpass others I have been with. Not only are they personable, courteous and helpful, they also, know the habits of the animals, can spot them at great distances, and know how to position the vehicles for the best photographing angles. Besides this, they are really fun to be with, having good senses of humor.” — Elizabeth Hershkowitz ..read more
“I have nothing but good thoughts and great things to say about our guides. Francis and Juma were fantastic! How they spotted some of the animals we came across I’ll never know. Perhaps they were one with the “force” … I don’t know but they did just a superb job! Their knowledge of the area, the animals and their expertise in animal behavior were exceptional. I couldn’t ask for better. Very nice guys and very patient. It was obvious they cared about what they did and they were genuinely interested in making sure our experience was a good one. They succeeded brilliantly!” — John Nelson -Read Less
Godson AnatoryWildlife and astrology enthusiast Godson Anatory’s interest in wildlife goes well beyond a fascination with animals because his father was a park ranger with deep roots in ecology and conservation.
He was born and raised in Arusha where he later attended Wildlife College to study population dynamics, human impact on wildlife, evolutionary biology and more. It was there where he picked up an insatiable thirst for learning more about astrology, insects and birds.
He then attended intensive trainings on professional guiding, Savannah ecology and birding. He got a job working for a local camp in Tarangire where he became a walking guide which makes him very special because he is now adept at seeing things other guide miss when they drive.
His jokes and very well-rounded knowledge of everything inside our parks make him one of our most requested guides...read more
Always professional. Always respectful. His clients give him the highest marks and quote his sense of humor and in-depth knowledge as the thing that makes their trip truly outstanding. -Read Less