As a third generation born and raised Zimbabwean, Julian’s love of the outdoors and wildlife became clear as he cared for a menagerie of creatures from scorpions to rats and attended junior guiding camps whenever he was out of school – despite his first ever dream job being that of a bread delivery man in Harare, because he would have ridden a motorbike all day.
From the age of ten, he announced to his parents that he was going to be a guide, a dream that remained constant throughout his childhood and schooling years. He attended agricultural college then went on to do a diploma in guiding and lodge management, before spending some time in Europe working at sea. Returning to his beloved home in 2007, he qualified as a Zimbabwean Professional Guide in 2010, after three years of intensive study and training. He has since managed camps and guided all over Zimbabwe.
In his own words -
‘In the course of my career as a professional guide, I have been privileged to have unique moments in the bush where I have felt at one with nature, in a deeply fulfilling peace with the life around me. One such experience will always stand out.
Recently qualified as a Zimbabwean Professional Guide, I was guiding in Hwange and helping to build the new camp where I would be based. A long day of building ended with a light rain shower and I decided to go for a walk on my own, barefoot, carrying just my rifle. A few minutes after leaving camp, I found a massive elephant bull ambling along on a bushtrack. I joined the path about twenty meters behind him and followed quietly. If an elephant bull is on a mission to go somewhere, tracing a path, it is actually quite easy to accompany him unnoticed if you have the wind right and know what you are doing.
However in this case the wind was wrong and as the bull sensed me, he stopped and turned, looking straight at me. There was a brief moment of tension as I waited to see what the elephant would do. After regarding me for a time, he slowly swung back and kept walking at the same pace. I followed with his tacit approval for nearly two kilometers before I decided to turn back, as the light was fading.
That bull knew the entire time that I was behind him, through smell and sound, yet he did not mind and was happy to let me share his journey. As I walked that afternoon, watching my bare feet join in making tracks with his gigantic ones, I realized the resolution made by my ten year old self was the right one and that the impact of these incredible encounters would shape me into the guide that I am today.’
In 2018, building on his vast experience, Julian started his own safari company along with his wife Ashley, offering customised safaris with a special emphasis on walking safaris - Julian Brookstein Safaris. His love for the bush, his ability to share the intricacy and beauty of the wild, along with his dedicated conservation efforts open this world to his guests and make them as enthusiastic as he is. With Julian as your guide, a safari is not only an incredible adventure but an educational experience of a lifetime.
Julian's Team - a family business
The Brookstein Family
From the day that Julian and Ashley met working in camp, they knew this was forever. Eleven years later, they have taken the step to create a family business together, based on their great love for the bush and their extensive experience in the field.
Ashley is the ideal general manager, with her skills in hospitality, camp management and accounting perfectly complementing Julian's skills in the field. She will design your dream safari down to the finest detail and ensure that it is an experience of a lifetime in every way. Her culinary skills mean that every meal is a delight and no request, even a last-minute vegan birthday cake cooked over a bush fire, is too much for her to accomplish with ease. Her feminine touch adds the final polish to every outing and safari stay.
Two of the smallest additions to the family team, Farrah and Marley, have grown up wild in the bush with their parents, living in camp almost from birth, with Lumpy Trunk the elephant as their closest neighbour and wild dogs drinking out of their paddling pool. Now that the time to attend school has arrived, the family have relocated to Victoria Falls town, the perfect base for both home and work - although there are objections from Farrah, who thinks that being a very junior guide, with her own pride of lions born in the same month as her, is far superior to attending nursery school. The family have recently welcomed Sam, now over a month old and despite sleeping through part of it, he's already experiencing his first game drives and learning to focus on elephants.
The family involvement doesn't stop there. Julian's father, Lionel, is an expert car restorer in his semi-retirement and has fully customised and outfitted the company's Land Rovers to be perfectly suited to clients' needs. Ashley's father, Clive, is a talented carpenter and creates wonderful wooden pieces for use on safari. Julian's sister, Christie, assists with social media and other aunt related duties.
When you come on a safari with Julian Brookstein Safaris, you become a member of this very special family and experience the bush the way we do, sharing our passion and love for our beautiful country. We look forward to creating a trip of a lifetime for you and hope to welcome you back again and again to our part of Africa.