Expert Rangers and Trackers
Royal Malewane has the most qualified guiding team in Africa. Our team consists of career guides who strive for excellence and are passionate about the African bush.
On most private safaris in Southern Africa, guests are guided on specialised Land Rovers by a ranger who drives the vehicle and by a tracker who sits on an especially precarious seat at the front of the bonnet. The tracker’s job is to find elusive wildlife. To notice and interpret nature’s subtle clues through acutely honed senses while the ranger engages with the guests and ensures safe passage.
There is no bond stronger than the indelible and intuitive connection between a ranger and a tracker. Wild adventures, unique encounters and proud achievements punctuate their derring-do filled days. Watch our video below which explains more about the unique qualifications that our team has and how that impacts on the guest experience.
Juan Pinto is the former Head Ranger at Royal Malewane and has now taken up a position as a director at Royal Malewane allowing him to concentrate on the broader wildlife experience as well as critical conservation efforts. He is one of the most qualified guides in the business. Juan has a unique set of formal guiding qualifications:
- The Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) – Level 3 professional guide;
- Special Knowledge and Skills (SKS) – Dangerous Game;
- SKS – Birding;
- Master Tracker;
- Juan was the first active guide to be awarded the honorary title of Scout by FGASA in recognition of achieving the highest qualifications as a guide and as a tracker.
Juan and erstwhile Head Tracker, Wilson Masiya have created an ethos that permeates through Royal Malewane, sharing their passion for the African bush and ensuring that all the rangers and trackers strive towards the same goal – to be the best guiding team in Africa. Royal Malewane is proud to have two of only seven living Master Trackers, only three of which work in the Greater Kruger National Park.
All the game rangers at Royal Malewane hold the highest FGASA qualifications as well as advanced rifle handling certificates. These qualifications ensure guests an exceptional game experience – not only while on game drive, but also on foot.
Our greatest priority is guest safety. All our guides and trackers receive ongoing, on-site wilderness emergency training from experts in the field.
The guiding team has over 300 years of African bush experience between them.
Meet the Rangers
Ryan is the Head Ranger at Royal Malewane. He was born in Zimbabwe and having grown up in the outdoors on many a fishing trip, he started working in the guiding industry in 1999. He completed a Diploma in Game Ranch Management before he started guiding. Ryan also has a passion for photography and holds a Diploma in Photography. Ryan joined Royal Malewane in 2004. He is a FGASA Level III Professional Guide with SKS-Dangerous Game and SKS Birding. He is also a Level III Tracker.
Juan has worked in the guiding industry since 1993. Juan is unique in his qualifications (see above) and is instrumental in the evaluation and education of other safari guides and game trackers.
Riaan entered the industry in 1999. He holds a National Diploma in Nature Conservation and is a FGASA Level III Professional Field Guide with SKS-Dangerous Game and SKS-Birding. He is also a Level II Tracker. Riaan worked as an ecologist in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and as a Game Ranger in the Sabi Sand and in the Karoo. He joined Royal Malewane in 2006 and is a highly skilled and entertaining guide.
Piet Marimane joined Royal Malewane early in 2014. Piet’s love for the local fauna and flora of the region started at an early age. He grew up in the heart of Big 5 country, with the Sabi Sand and Manyaleti Game Reserves at his doorstep. It is also in these spectacular wildlife areas where he honed his skills as a tracker and guide, and started working as a professional guide in 1994. Piet is a FGASA Level II Guide and Advanced Trails Guide and a Level IV Tracker. Having grown up in the Lowveld, Piet has an unparalleled and invaluable knowledge of the local culture and history.
Rudi Hulshof has a complete set of skills when it comes to offering an all-round safari experience. Since 1997 he has actively engaged in guiding, being appointed Head Guide numerous times as well as maintaining senior management roles within the industry and pursuing his keen interest in Professional Photographic Guiding. He started out by studying a BSc in Geology. Rudi is a FGASA Level III Professional Guide and a Level III Tracker. He is also an Advanced Trails Guide. He was appointed at Royal Malewane in 2014 and has been a valuable addition to the Royal Malewane guiding team ever since.
Nicola achieved a National Diploma in Nature Conservation from the Tshwane University of Technology in 2007 after which she gained practical experience working for South African National Parks in their game capture division. During this period she was especially involved in the well-published, large scale re-introduction of large herbivores into the Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique.
Nicola joined the Royal Malewane apprenticeship program in 2011 and spent the next two years living in a tent as part of the apprenticeship. It was under the tutelage and guidance of the highly experienced Royal Malewane guiding team that she showed great drive and commitment to a career in nature guiding, and the decision was made to offer her permanent employment at the completion of the apprenticeship. Nicola is a FGASA Level II Field Guide, a full Trails Guide and a Level I Tracker.
Nik, the Lone Ranger, completed his apprenticeship in 2009. He is an enthusiastic and committed guide who has his National diploma in Nature Conservation. He is a FGASA Level III Professional Field Guide with National and SKS-Birding. Nik is an advanced trails guide and a Level II Tracker. Nik is currently working on some exploratory projects for The Royal Portfolio.
Noelle van Muiden
Noelle was born and bred in New Hampshire, USA where she majored in Anthropology. Her love for Africa started in Arusha, Tanzania where she lived for several years before moving to South Africa. Noelle has been guiding in Southern Africa for almost a decade, and has worked in the Greater Kruger National Park, South Luangwa National Park and Madikwe Private Game Reserve.
She is a FGASA Level II Professional Guide, an advanced trails guide and Level III Tracker.
Meet the Trackers
Jonas grew up in the bush with his best friend, master tracker, Wilson Masiya where his skills were used for everyday living. Jonas was inspired to achieve his own Master Tracker qualification at the end of 2016 and with over 40 years’ experience is considered to be one of the top trackers in the country.
Shadrack is Wilson’s first protégé at Royal Malewane, having honed his game tracking skills under Wilson’s guidance from the time he started as a swimming pool cleaner at Royal Malewane in 2001. Shadrack has come an exceptional distance, and is currently a level 3 tracker with over 20 years experience.
Robert has established himself as a Level II Tracker through his qualifications and 25 years of bush experience. Born just 15km away from Royal Malewane, he was immersed in the African bush from the start, quickly developing a passion for wildlife and conservation. He also has a Field Ranger Qualification from the South African Wildlife College. He has 9 years’ experience in the bush at Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, where he was involved in anti-poaching, wildlife conservation, patrols and game counts. Robert has been a great addition to Royal Malewane’s formidable guiding team.
Solly was born in Mozambique and came to South Africa in 1979. Having grown up in the bush he has an excellent knowledge of which plants and trees are edible or medicinal in their use and understanding of the cultural beliefs of the Shangaan/Tsonga people. Solly joined Royal Malewane in 1999 as a member of the maintenance team and as a driver. He began working as a relief tracker early on, then finally made a permanent move into the Guiding Team in 2007. Solly is a Level III Tracker and aspires to become a game ranger one day.
Patrick is a local tracker whom, like Piet, was raised on the borders of the Greater Kruger National Park. Pat is a vastly experienced and skilled Level III tracker who worked in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve for a decade, before joining Royal Malewane in 2008.
Terrance who has been at Royal Malewane since 2003 is a FGASA Level III Tracker and a Level I Professional Field Guide. He has grown up in the bush environment and has been tracking for all of his adult life. He has an excellent knowledge of the tribal use of the various plant species.
Bennett came to SA from Mozambique in 1981, and started working as a tracker on the Thornybush Reserve in 1987. He is very well-known as a highly skilled tracker, having been on the reserve for more than 26 years. Bennett joined Royal Malewane in 2013, and holds a FGASA Level III Tracker qualification.
Mumps Mathonsi was born in southern Mozambique and grew up in the Greater Kruger National Park. He has been a tracker for 25 yrs having worked at Simbambili and Mala Mala in the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve. Mumps has incredible knowledge of the flora and fauna from small insects to medicinal and cultural uses of many tree and plant species. Having joined Royal Malewane in 2016, Mumps brings 27 yrs of tracking knowledge to our team. Mumps is a FGASA Level II Tracker.
Juan Pinto and Wilson Masiya have been instrumental in creating one of the most sought after guiding apprenticeships in South Africa.
Royal Malewane takes on two apprentice rangers with aptitude and potential on a rolling two year cycle before sending them out into the industry in order to raise the quality of guiding in Southern Africa.