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The Rugged Profile of a Safari Guide

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What is your ideal image of a guide' Do safari guides need more than just a dark tan, a khaki shirt and a hat like Crocodile Dundee' Could there be more to being a guide than telling gripping fireside tales and downing hearty swigs of Jack Daniels'

There is, and you can bet your life on it. Serious safaris demand guides with a bold character and the following rugged profile:

Firstly, where has he lived his life'

Has he actually had first hand experience on the ground in Africa' Was his grandfather a warden' The best guide I ever had was a third generation professional guide operating throughout Botswana. He was born in Tanzania and, together with his grandfather - who was a warden - they migrated to the Kalahari Desert and started their own safari operation. This is how he lived his life; he grew up in the bush.

What is his area of expertise'

A knowledgeable guide should possess a wealth of knowledge including the cultures and traditions of the area. Can your guide take you to very remote villages that are rarely visited by travellers'

To ensure your guide has knowledge on a broad range of diverse subjects, it pays to ask specific questions about his or her credentials. Questions like:

How would you track the elusive desert lion of the Kalahari'How much do you know about Ornithology'Can you ride a donkey, operate a boat, fly microlight aircraft, transport tag and track lions and conduct tours via bicycle, canoe and 4X4'

Your guide must have " The Instinct"

A first-class guide, when on a walking safari, goes out in front of the group in search of big game. The guide must have a combination of well honed instincts that include cunning, stealth, and a good sense of smell, coupled with pinpoint-accurate eyesight. Not to mention being quiet and unassuming.

His instincts should be as close to an animal's as a human can get, while at the same time being very professional.

A relaxed nature

More specifically, can he or she relax in nature' A nervous guide cannot focus on the task at hand. Your guide should have a friendly, relaxed demeanor and enjoy taking guests walking in the bush.

Also, an excellent relationship with a local Bushmen tribe and the ability to act as an interpreter are all signs that your guide is regarded as being charming and cordial.

Lastly, is your guide a real leader'

A safari guide should be a born leader with a tour leader qualification, combining experience in leading expeditions with a wealth of knowledge and excellent organisational skills.These are the prerequisites for leading varied itineraries in Southern Africa and surrounding countries. Make sure your guides fits the rugged profile.

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