[words & photograph © Mark Eveleigh]
Officially Mzee Letur is a junior elder in the Samburu tribe.
His shaved head denotes his status as an elder in the village yet he chooses to retain his warrior regalia at work as a guide rather than dress in the olive drab of the parks service.
Also known simply as Chris, Mzee Letur is a head-guide at Saruni Samburu Lodge and one of the new generation of Samburu who is able to respect the traditions of his people while at the same time finding an honourable way to embrace the new Kenya.
First-time visitors on an African safari are often unaware of the great fundamental difference that a top quality guide can make to their overall experience. A knowledgeable and experienced guide is able to track down unforgettable sightings by reading the mysterious small-print that is stamped all over sandy tracks of the African wilderness and by deciphering clues in the behaviour of the wildlife. The barely audible cough of a nervous kudu could lead to that unforgettable leopard sighting. The sudden appearance of a distant vulture, silhouetted against an African sunset, can point to the hunting grounds of the local pride several kilometres away.
Inexperienced guides, however, will often simply cruise around looking for an opportunity to follow a good guide. Mzee Chris is known as one of the best guides in Samburu Reserve and it is his lead that many more lowly drivers follow.
Saruni Samburu Lodge (rated by the 2011 Good Safari Guide as one of Africa’s best safari properties) has been benefiting the 2000 Samburu who live on the Kalama Conservation Area by helping them to earn an income from tourism for the first time in their history. Exceptional Travel offer full board tailor-made packages that include Saruni Samburu from £2,345 per person, including internal flights, road transfers, park fees and flying doctor cover. Click here for details Cheli & Peacock properties.