John Stevens Safaris - Guided Safaris Africa
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Safari Stories to Warm your Heart

Storytelling is not just perfect around campfires; on safari, it’s almost compulsory. And what better place to recount exciting tales of adrenalin-surging adventures and magnificent sightings? These captivating stories, usually told with much gusto and embellishment, are the same ones you’ll remember long after you’ve gone home and packed away your bush kit.

Stories are a part of every safari and with a life spent in the bush, John Stevens has entertained many clients with tales of his experiences. These stories, always told in good company, are a pleasure to share and provide us with insights we may not find in books.

Tales of Suspense

With World Rhino Day coming up on the 22nd September, it seemed appropriate to open this newsletter with a story about a rhino, set under a full African moon.

When I asked John to tell me his Moonlight Rhino story, now legendary, he responded with a smile and that faraway look came into his eyes, as he recalled that wonderful night…

“Zimbabwe’s Zambezi Valley was once home to the Black Rhino. Difficult to believe now that they’re all gone, but true.

“It was August 1990 and our camp overlooked the vast expanse of the Zambezi River in the Mana Pools National Park. My four guests were American and our "Walking Safari" in this exquisite locality was almost over. They would be flying out of the area the following day so we had a little while left to explore. I sat back in my old canvas chair thinking of a few options. It would be full moon that night and I had in mind spending it out at a remote pan, which was situated well off the beaten track. I explained the benefit of sitting quietly at such a spot, listening to night sounds and observing at close quarters unexpected sightings. Above all, the whole atmosphere would be riveting. I detected a sparkle in my guests’ eyes!

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The stories we could tell

John and Nicci Stevens have put together and guided many wonderful safaris for clients who often come back for more of the thrills and fun they experienced whilst on safari.

One such client holds a special place in our hearts because she is almost equal in enthusiasm to John! But it’s more – Joann appreciates the care and attention that goes into planning each itinerary. She knows the value of a good guide and she understands that sometimes you have to work really hard to find the animals. She is also a great listener, and John shares many of his stories with this appreciative lady! Joann was rewarded for being a great safari traveller on her most recent travels with John in Zimbabwe…

Add a Log to the Fire – let us know if this exciting experience appeals to you…

Many stories have been told of safaris taken on the banks of the Zambezi River in Mana Pools National Park. But just 45km inland from the river is a unique and remote water source called Chitake Springs. This is a favourite spot of John’s and many others besides. Gary Layard, a guide with whom John works often, especially at his daughter and son-in-law’s camp (, has come up with an idea that might arouse some interest, especially with returning clients. He suggests, that for a true “up close and personal” wilderness experience, Chitake is the perfect “fly-camping” site.

“There is an " edge " to Chitake, which I find completely addictive...”

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Explore more...

Meet Gary Layard, Safari Guide

Gary Layard (48) grew up in rural Zimbabwe and has fostered a passion for wild places in Africa from a very young age. He is married to Sharon and has two children, Bryony (17) and Jeremy (14).

He qualified as an optometrist in Johannesburg in 1986 and has built up two busy optometric practices in Harare. 

In 2007 Gary decided to take his bush passion to new levels, and undertook to complete his Professional Guides license - after a three year apprenticeship, he was able to achieve this, whilst continuing to work as an optometrist - every possible opportunity to get into the bush was fully utilised, as his family and staff will confirm! Sharon, Bryony and Jeremy fortunately share Gary's passion for the bush, and they spend a lot of time together, enjoying the wilderness of Zimbabwe (especially Mana Pools National Park) and adjacent countries.

Whilst Gary continues to work as an optometrist, he does make time to pursue his passion with professional guiding - taking a number of select photographic safaris each year.

Join us around the campfire

If you’re planning to come on safari, we hope you find something here - – to warm your imagination and spark some thoughts.

But most of all, we hope that you, too, will come away from a safari with many stories of your own to tell!

Contact Details
Phone: 263 4 490612 (Office hours 9am - 5pm
Zimbabwe UTC/GMT +2 hours)
PO Box CH 84, Chisipite, Harare, Zimbabwe

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