Mkuyu Guiding School

And of course - perhaps the best thing about being a bush school - there are plenty of opportunistic learning experiences when wildlife wander into the school. This is significant, as it is not uncommon for young people entering the tourism industry to have never seen or spent much time with many of Tanzania's animals before! Having an intimate understanding of wildlife, their habitats and their behaviours is an asset that appeals to prospective employers, and also puts the students in an excellent position to progress from service duties to guiding and education roles.

Mkuyu Guiding School

The bird life is abundant and ever-present, including two recently declared species that are endemic to the area - the  Ruaha Chat and the Ruaha Red-Billed Hornbill.

Surrounded by bush, the students can easily spend their days  encountering animals, plants and habitats where there are limitless opportunities to increase their knowledge and understanding of the natural world.

Bush School

Mkuyu Guiding School

As Tanzanians become increasingly aware of the social and environmental importance of nature tourism, more and more young people are seeking to enter the industry. As a result, employment can be quite competitive, and few Tanzanians own their own tourism businesses.

Mkuyu Guiding School aims to provide training that equips students with a wide range of skills and experiences that may assist in giving students that extra edge and improve their employment prospects.

The key program of Mkuyu Guiding School is maintaining a Bush School focus, providing an outdoor learning environment based on real life experiences that foster knowledge and appreciation of the land, and its plants and animals.

The school is located within a wildlife management area at the doorstep of Ruaha National Park, a haven for some of Tanzania's most unique and iconic wildlife. It is not uncommon for wildlife to pass through the school grounds, including elephants, hyena, lions, baboons, impala, and a variety of reptiles and amphibians.

Mkuyu Guiding School

Mkuyu Guiding School

Outdoor learning in the bush is a way of life at Mkuyu.

The practical skills associated with living in a tent-accommodation school in the bush is also directly transferable to work in the tourism industry. Safari guides are often required to lead tent-based overnight activities with tourists where they are responsible for accommodation and cooking for guests. Lodge maintenance is also a primary area of employment for young Tanzanians entering the industry for the first time.

Upon waking up, students follow a strict roster of routine activities. The camp grounds are prepared by sweeping the paths and clearing any bush debris that has blown in during the night. Tables and chairs are laid out, and a fire is built in preparation for breakfast. Students take turns on cooking and cleaning duties throughout the day. The school also grows many of their own foods, and students are responsible for tending to the crop gardens. This teaches them important agricultural skills in addition to bush skills.

Morning bird walks are usually the first class of the day, followed by discussions and study time before lunch. Classes continue throughout the day, including independent learning time in the bush, until dinner. During the evening meal, students discuss what they have learnt and review any questions. The camp is tidied and packed up before bed each night.

Classes take place outdoors under a grass roof banda, as do meal and study times. Accommodation is simple - tents beneath bandas. This means that students spend a significant amount of time outside in close contact with nature.

Such experience is priceless, developing keen skills and knowledge of the bush alongside a deep appreciation of nature. This unique and intensive experience gives Mkuyu students a strong, intimate environmental immersion.