First Light Safaris was established in 2015. I was privileged to be a part of this team as camp manager in 2013. The 8 months I spent in South Luangwa National Park changed my life. First Light Safaris was inspired by each person you see in this picture. Because of them and many others like them, we are able to preserve the natural world through responsible non-hunting tourism.
Life is on display 24 hours a day in Africa. Everyday felt as if I was immersed in the filming of the next great wildlife documentary. There are no words to describe the majesty that is Africa. One needs to experience it. There was a day in the bush that will forever be etched in my memory. I was watching the bustling of life around a waterhole for most of the day. At one point, there were giraffe, elephant, impala, puku, bushbuck, kudu, zebra, waterbuck, baboons, warthogs, ververt monkeys, banded mongoose, and scores of different birds sharing this little oasis. Surprisingly there was little tension or disagreement between the species present. I marveled at, for lack of a better term, the “humanity” displayed at the waterhole that day late in the dry season. That scene is a microcosm of life in Africa; not just of wildlife but of people as well. This is the Africa I fell in love with.
I do not believe trophy hunting should be a tool used to “protect” wildlife. There are many opportunities around Africa to convert hunting areas into world-class wildlife viewing areas. Kenya and Botswana are proving the model works. Humanity can do it, but it won’t be easy. The dollars from the hunting industry are very tempting and with it comes corruption. “Well-managed hunting” is fantasy; a horrible piece of fiction. Why shouldn’t we work towards a safari industry that is trophy free? It can be done, but those of us who have the means need to step up and invest in non-hunting tourism. Converting hunting concessions and other unprotected areas into wildlife viewing areas has its challenges, but it has proved overwhelmingly successful.
I hope you consider First Light Safaris when planning your first or next wildlife viewing journey. Going on safari is an investment towards protecting the incredible animals, landscapes, and cultures across the continent. Tom Mazzarisi – Owner of First Light Safaris
Our logo depicts a Maasai warrior and a lion against a backdrop of the rising sun and Mt. Kenya. The lion and the warrior represent mankind’s connection with the natural world that dates back to the dawn of the human race. A connection not as hunter and trophy, but as wild brethren sharing a timeless and wild landscape. Countless generations of our species coexisted with the incredible wildlife of Africa, but this coexistence is endangered of becoming lost under the pressures of a modern and growing human world.
The rising sun represents the best time of day to embark on your adventure into the wilds of Africa. A crescendo of life beginning at first light awards the early riser. You will never feel more alive than the dawn of a new day in the bush.
Mt. Kenya obviously represents Kenya; the birthplace of the safari. “Safari” is the Swahili word for “journey”. Too often “safari” has been synonymous with “hunting” and it shouldn’t be. Kenya banned trophy hunting in the 1970’s and wildlife journeys in this country and around Africa have replaced rifles with cameras and trophy free memories.
Nurtured by my grandfather’s appreciation for all creatures, I achieved a genuine intellectual curiosity for nature. The biological world continues to fascinate me with the same childlike enthusiasm of an aspiring naturalist marveling at his mentor mimicking bird calls at a backyard bird feeder. My educational background is biology and conservation. As a safari planner and guide, my goal is to facilitate the best wildlife viewing and learning opportunities to enhance your overall experience.
A resume of experience underscores my passion to safeguard our remaining wild places. In addition to promoting sustainable and responsible tourism across Africa, First Light Safaris has recently updated its mission to include an official stance against trophy hunting. Wildlife deserve better than to end up as a wall mount. We support any and all effort to see hunting concessions across Africa phased out in favor of viewing and photographic endeavors to enjoy wildlife. It will take a herculean effort by humanity to make sure opportunities to witness the natural world are protected for future generations.
My first trip to Africa was in 2009. My wife and I enjoyed our honeymoon in Zambia and spent two weeks exploring the wilds of South Luangwa and Kafue national parks. I returned to Zambia in 2013 where I managed the Bilimungwe Bushcamp in South Luangwa National Park.
Managing Bilimungwe was life changing. Being immersed in the safari industry proved invaluable. Night and day was spent in nature’s classroom. Learning from world class guides was enlightening. Sharing my newfound knowledge with clients was the proverbial, “icing on the cake.”
− Bilimungwe camp manager in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia.
− 20 years as a park ranger.
− Wildlife research (including grizzly bears).
− Former local chapter president of a national environmental organization.
− Degree in environmental conservation and biology.
− University wildlife biology teaching assistant.
− Safari planner for a U.S. based travel company.