November 21, 2016
Honest Siyawareva, on the Zambezi River in Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe
I knew I was going to enjoy chatting with Honest as soon as I saw a copy of Ian Player’s Zululand Wilderness – Shadow and Soul on the seat of Honest’s Toyota Hilux. This book had an immense impact on me.
Honest was born on Fothergill Island in the middle of Lake Kariba, surrounded by elephants and hippos. He’s the son of the well-known Benson Siyawareva, one of the country’s finest guides. Honest’s uncle was Foster Siyawareva, one of the first black professional hunters in the country. Both Benson and Foster mentored the young boy, and Honest was no doubt destined to follow in their very big footprints in wildlife guiding.
Honest Siyawareva is just 28 years old, but when you’ve grown up in a family as bonded to the bush as his, you soon realise that Africa’s wildness flows in his veins, and his knowledge and intuition is immense. It’s something that can’t be taught…you almost have to be born with it.
Like all great guides, he is in tune with what the wild animals are doing – and even thinking. The subtle behaviour of a nearby elephant gives plenty of clues to it’s intentions…and Honest picks all of it up, and ensures that his guests get the most of out of their safari.
I quizzed Honest about some of his most memorable sightings.
“I once saw seven lionesses and two lions killing an adult elephant. That was incredible and intense. Just like the time I saw 22 hyaenas killing an adult male buffalo.”
“Another time, I saw an African python trying to kill a porcupine…it simply couldn’t, because of all the quills. It gave up, but still it was amazing to see.
“Of course, I do lots of walks with guests, and on one walk, we came across a pangolin, which is always special. But probably the most special sighting I’ve seen is an elephant giving birth. I watched as the entire herd surrounded the mother, as she was in labour, giving birth to the little one. The herd formed a circle around the mom, and stayed there until the baby was up on its feet and safe.”
Honest Siyawareva explaining the finer points of walking in Mana Pools. This is one of the few parks in Africa where you can walk freely, with a guide. Although the animals are somewhat habituated, they're still wild. Being guided with someone like Honest makes it way more enjoyable - and safe.