Dumi Mbatha: KwaZulu-Natal’s top tour guide

Posted on 22 May 2024 By Tsoku Maela

Dumi Mbatha, hailed as the most popular tour guide in KwaZulu-Natal on TripAdvisor, is renowned for his knowledge, kindness, humor, and exceptional storytelling. Visitors frequently describe their experiences with him as ‘awesome’ and ‘the best’ a testament to his skill and dedication.

Dumi’s journey to becoming a top tour guide began in Jozini, Zululand, where his love for nature was nurtured during school trips to local game reserves. Initially considering a career in accounting, his passion for the environment led him to Phinda Private Game Reserve after graduation. ‘I was good at accounting at school, so I thought I was going to become a chartered accountant. But I was also a member of the environmental club and I just fell in love with nature,’ he admits.

Following seven years at Phinda, he moved to Thanda, another luxury reserve, where he honed his skills in catering to upmarket guests. ‘I learned all about upmarket guests and how they like to be treated. This means that I am constantly striving to maintain very high standards. I always try to challenge myself to improve and be better,’ he says.

To broaden his experience, Dumi worked at various companies, including a brief stint at a lodge in Pilanesberg, North West, which he left due to the cold climate.

‘When you have grown up in Zululand you don’t understand the cold. I did not even last a year. I was very happy to come back home to KwaZulu-Natal,’ he recalls with a laugh. Returning to KwaZulu-Natal, he continued his career at Manyoni Private Game Reserve and later in St Lucia, where he received numerous requests for private tours. This demand led him to establish Dumi’s Legacy Tours in 2018. ‘I called it Legacy Tours because I want to leave a legacy. This is also why my tours are different. I try to bring something different to every tour that I do,’ he explains.

Dumi’s Legacy Tours offers personalized experiences, including half-day and full-day safaris to iSimangaliso Park, Cape Vidal, and Hluhluwe Game Reserve. A unique feature of his offerings is the Elephant Interaction Experience at Manyoni, where guests can learn about elephants Rachel and Rambo, who were rescued from a cull as babies and have become habituated to people.

The ‘Dumi Difference,’ highlighted in visitor reviews, stems from his storytelling prowess, which brings to life the culture, history, and wildlife of Zululand. Dumi shares personal anecdotes and cultural insights, making his tours engaging for both adults and children. ‘Where I grew up, the people used plants for medicine. They knew the importance of animals in the wild. They understood the role of the spirits of the ancestors and how they must be attached to the home. These are the stories I tell – the stories of Zululand, the people, the culture, the bush, and the wildlife,’ he says.


Pictures: Supplied

Websites: https://www.zulu.org.za and https://dumistluciasafari.co.za/  

Facebook: Tourism KwaZulu-Natal 

Instagram: Tourismkzn official 

Twitter: @TourismKZN 


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