Meet Luckson Situmbeko: Expert Guide at Sussi & Chuma
Meet Luckson Situmbeko, one of our expert guides at Sussi & Chuma in Zambia. Having fallen in love with nature as a child, he is now one of the top guides in the lodge, and never fails to deliver on his promises to our guests. We spoke to Luckson to find out what makes him tick, and why he is so good at what he does.
What made you want to become a guide?
My father was a ranger so I spent much of my childhood surrounded by the flora and fauna of Africa. I remember spending hours watching game with him, and his passion for wildlife eventually became my passion. In secondary school I was elected the Organising Secretary of the Wildlife Club and spent the following four years after high school studying professional hunting and guiding.
What is your most memorable game drive?
During a night game drive in our famous South Luangwa National Park I came across a pair of porcupines mating! It was definitely an interesting sight to behold and one that will stay with me forever.
What makes a good game tracker?
Investing time and patience into learning about the various flora and fauna is part of what makes a good game tracker. I have invested in lots of wildlife books and read up about the wildlife in the area in my free time. Some of the tracks are very small so it also pays to know your measurements and to take note of the little things. It takes a lot of determination and personal interest to become a good tracker!
What do you enjoy most about Sussi & Chuma lodge?
For me, the location of Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma is perfect. Situated along the banks of the mighty Zambezi River the camp has a special sort of ambience about it. Without leaving the camp our guests can sit and enjoy the sound of the rushing water and the delightful singing of our local birds, the song stars. We also have plenty of hippos, bush bucks and elephants who frequent the camp meaning guests can enjoy the resident wildlife both on and off the game drives. The whole team is also fantastic; everyone knows what they are doing and requires very minimal supervision so the guests have a seamless service throughout their stay.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
My two favourite aspects of my job would have to be entertainment and education. I am a people person so entertaining our guests is second nature to me. I learn a lot from them about their lives back home and their passions, so I strive to offer them the same level of openness and education. I also do a lot of work with the children at Nakatindi Community School, who Sanctuary Retreats have philanthropy projects with. This role gives me the opportunity to teach important topics such as conservation, HIV and Aids, career guidance, as well as food and nutrition to the children. To my colleagues I teach subjects such as first aid, risk management, animal habits and habitats, how to avoid confrontations with wild animals, as well as training junior guides. I love the varied aspect of my role and the fact that no two days will be the same.
What is your favourite animal and why?
That is a tough one and I am definitely not simply a Big Five guide. I love giraffes because they are very comical to watch; they often seem to be trying to work out whether we are a giraffe like them or something else entirely. One of my favourite animals to watch all day are primates as they are always busy doing things like foraging or playing. I also find elephants magnificent - whether they are wallowing, feeding or simply walking from waterhole to waterhole, they are such amazing animals to spend time with.
What is your favourite season?
Having guided game drives in both wet and dry season, I have to say that they are both wonderful in their own special ways so it would be impossible to choose a favourite. It is very well-known that the dry season is the best for game viewing as you are able to see miles away from the road, enhancing the chances of spotting wildlife. However, the wet season has its own beauty; from the striking flowers, colourful insects and butterflies, the spectacular double rainbows and phenomenal moon bows (lunar rainbow) at the Victoria Falls.
The wildlife is also very interesting during the wet season with a lot of migrants, both intra-African and Palearctic (i.e. from Europe or Asia), descending on the South Luangwa. It's also a great time for the elephants as they frolic in the red mud surrounding the river which gives them a beautiful brick red colour.
What three items do you always carry for safari?
There is a lot of kit involved in creating a perfect safari, and much of it depends on the season. I never leave the camp without two pairs of binoculars, a well-stocked cooler box, a car repair kit, insect repellent and blankets or ponchos. Having that in mind, the most important items I always carry with me on each safari are a comprehensive first aid kit with matches and a torch, enough drinking water for everyone and a fully charged radio (handset/base).
You can meet Luckson and the team of expert Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma guides on your next trip to Zambia.