These are my stories and experiences
during my so many trips.
This is me
My tour guiding start
My moments / Stories, my
My panties or my life
To baboon or not
Listen carefully or pay the
If you dont listen, you
will be punished
Time to take a nap
Rhino mound is the only choice
Giving happiness is the most
My first official tour
Tanzania, my first
A safari too close for
experience to cherish
everywhere, not a sky to see
Calamity can also
strike a tour
Too close to my Baby
Beautiful people, Beautiful
Bias ideas into one's head
Water is the only
A special Kitty cat
Leave them all up there
Crazy is an
Our kitchen is runing
away from us
I am not staying here
Water animals in a sea of sand
Death everywhere but not a
dead one found
Wet hole of Death
I am First. Are you kidding me?
Not without my
early, or going nowhere
I have done
Going Blind, Going Blind
You are not Invited!
No Seat belt, no GO
This is me
Where should I start?
Probably by telling you a bit about
I am a totally nature lover person, who enjoys the fresh air
on a chill winter morning, the birds flying by and nesting
beautifully on a hanging branch, Africa's amazing landscapes
and in general, everything that nature has to offer.
I love seeing details in it, such as a beautiful drop of
water resting on a leave and acting as a magnifying glass,
seeing an elephant play with branches, a young wildebeest
jumping up and down for no reason.
Yeah, that is me.
I am also an ultra-marathon runner and I do all the craziest
runs of 56km, 89km, 100km. Yes, that is right, not a
I love getting away from everything while I run.
I am also a ballroom and Latin-American dancer and
instructor. I am not joking, check out my website for
I also enjoy meeting people, learning new cultures and
enjoying what they have to offer. And here in Africa, this
is most rewarding.
I also love painting and sketching, and like getting animal
parts and expressions on paper. Yes, I also have a website
for this, check it out:http://www.polepoleman.com and
click on Marcos art, and while you are at it you can also
click on my photography which I enjoy doing, especially
during my trips.
My tour guiding start
Back to the Top of the Page
You want to know how I got to be a tour guide? Well that is
quite a simple story.
You see, my dream was to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, and I made
this dream come true in 2001.
I just bought a ticket to Dar Es Salaam and arrived there
with my back pack. No plans, no booking, "nada,
So I decided to eat something after leaving the airport and
I bought myself a coke and chips, and I sat on the sidewalk,
real island style to eat it all.
To my amazement many African people started sitting next to
me, and tried to establish conversation which I loved. They
wanted to know what is this white crazy man doing sitting
here, eating African type food like the Africans do. And we
all had a laugh about it when I told them: "I might be
white, but my heart is black".
Anyway, I told them about my climb, and to my big surprise,
I found that I was in the wrong city.
Kilimanjaro, is 700km to the north of where I was, so I had
to catch that same day another flight to my real
destination. Talk about improvising eh?.
On arrival at Kilimanjaro, I had to find accommodation, and
to do this I got a communal taxi. This is a kombi with 10
seats that gets filled up with about 16 people, so you are
really a travelling sardine in a can.
My surprise was not with the amount of people in it, but
with the smell which was a rancid stench that made you
dizzy. I must admit at that point I was very bias towards
people in Tanzania, and I thought, "They can't be that dirty
over here". Anyway, to me an experience is an experience,
and I took it for what it was: beautiful Africa. Reaching
the centre of town I got off the taxi, and to my big
surprise (and my shame for having thought so), I see that at
the back of the taxi, standing just behind the last rows of
seats and the window was a GOAT. And of course, this was the
source of the smell. I had such a good laugh about it.
At another eating session in Kilimanjaro, I met "Emanuel",
who I told him about my wanted adventure, and he happened to
be an ex Kilimanjaro guide. So I asked him what about it.
I told him that I wanted to climb without porters, just the
two of us. He agreed to it, and the next day we went
shopping and got all the goods we needed.
I have to tell you that I am one of the few persons who has
climbed Kilimanjaro carrying his own goods. It is TOUGH,
very TOUGH, but the view from the top is something that will
stay with you forever.
I had a good laugh at my guide's idea of light equipment.
Will you believe that as a mean of cooking stove, he was
carrying a 3.5 kg gas bottle with him all the way to the top
of Kilimanjaro. This should go down in history!!
So, after 6 days of climbing and getting back to ground
level, I rented a 4x4 and went traveling on my own through
This was the most incredible experience. With No plans, No
itinerary and No commitment.
I went to Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater and the
Serenguetti. This experience made me understand that
although I was born in Popular Trips, I was an "African Born
in the wrong continent". Africa spoke to my heart, Africa
captured my soul and I became an African.
These experiences were so revealing, that I decided on my
return, to share them with other people. So, I started
PolePole Adventures and I offered to take people to
Kilimanjaro and Tanzania.
I conducted many tours for 2 years after which I found that
you needed a license for it. So I did the course and became
a registered Tour Guide.
My Moments / Stories, my experiences
Back to the Top of the Page
Anyone telling you that being a Tour guide is just a
permanent holiday, does not know a thing about it.
Tour guiding is really hard work, but at the same time a
very rewarding one. You get to see amazing places, meet
incredible people and stay at some unusual and sometimes
But not all is great. You get up at 4 in the morning, to
make sure the driver of the bus is up, that the bus is
ready, and that the arrangements are all made for the day's
Yes, you are in charge of EVERYTHING. Your guests will see
you as their daddy or mommy.
As a matter of fact, carrying Tourists is the same as caring
for 4 year olds. They certainly behave as such.
Tell them not to step there, and they will do it, tell them
not to pick that flower, and they will do it, tell them not
to be late and they will definitely be.
But all in all, the rewards that you get from the stories
you will be able to tell, more than make up for it.
I have been guiding for over 10 years now, and have done
just about every kind of groups and gone all over Africa,
and let me tell you, do I have stories to tell.
I was told to write a book with them, but you know in
today's times, books are almost obsolete, so I am going to
tell My Moments / Stories via this blog.
Hope you have lost of coffee and that you are comfortable
with your feet up. The movie Out of Africa has NOTHING on
So, I invite you to My Moments / Stories, to Africa.
Tour Guide, Nature Lover, Life lover.
My panties or my life!!!
Back to the Top of the Page
Once again being a tour
guide takes you into situations of all sorts. Some of them
are hectic, some of them are full of danger and some of them
are a test of your reactions and coolness.
One of these tests came to
me in a very strange form.
We were doing a Boat Safari in Chobe national park, enjoying
amazing wildlife and landscape. Nature was throwing us with
all its splendour and majesty and we were all so into the
Now, the boat had a
balcony upstairs that one could go and stand to have a
It just so happen, that a lady in her early twenties,
decided that it would be a good idea to go upstairs for a
smoke, so she then climbed the ladder to the top and went to
have her puff.
A while later, her mother called her to come downstairs and
this was the beginning of the fastest ever moment in my
Now let me explain first that I was standing at the bottom,
right next to the stairs going up. Also I must mention that
the lady that went up was wearing high heel shoes (I have no
idea why would anyone on a Safari want to wear shoes like
that), and she was wearing the shortest mini skirt I have
ever seen. Needless to mention that she was at all times the
star of all the men in the boat. She did look lovely after
all and she was very beautiful.
As I was explaining then, when her mother called her , she
decided to come down rather quickly, and in doing so, she
lost her footing at the top of the stairs and fell head
first down it. As she was falling, I ran to help her and
almost at the bottom of the stairs, her body did not go
straight down, but rather over the side of the boat.
By this time I managed to
get hold of her, or rather her legs, with 75% of her body
hanging overboard. All I could then do is hold her and
scream for help, so that someone would help me pulling her
up. I also shouted to her to
hold on to the side of the boat, but to my surprise, all she
attempted to do was to hold her mini skirt up (or rather
down) so that her panties were not exposed. Never mind the
fact that she was about to fall into the water infested with
crocodiles and hippos. Her priority was not to show her
panties while I struggled to hold on to her legs.
After what seemed an eternity, someone reacted and helped me
pulling her back into the boat. Once back in, she then
realized what had happened and she got a bit of a hysteria
attack, which we had to help her calm.
In the process of falling,
she scratched her back very badly against the metal stairs
and also lost her phone to the water.
It was a very tense moment that could have ended very badly
if I had not been there to grab her. When it was over the
moment was diffused by a lady who commented aloud: "well he
certainly got the chance to have a good look, didn't he?”. Everyone packed up
laughing (including the fallen lady) and we all had a good
laugh after all.
She thank me dearly for
having helped her and so did her mother. I tell you that the whole
moment seemed to have taken forever, but in reality it only
took about 10 seconds, and it takes less than that for
something really bad to happen to someone. I am just glad it
An Electricying experience.
Back to the Top of the Page
In one of my many hikes with guests in the Natal Drakensberg
in South Africa, we decided to get to the top of the highest
point in the range of mountains. This is Cleff peak in the
Now, to get to this peak, you have to hike for 4 days and
then climb the peak for a full day until you reach the
The walk is very beautiful and the landscape is awesome.
But one of the things that one cannot control, is the
weather. Nature decides what to bring and when.
During the first 2 days, we had real nice weather, clear sky
On the 3rd day however, the sky turned grey and it got
covered with a thick layer of rain clouds.
We are used to this kind of weather changes while hiking,
and we normally carry all types of gear to be able to carry
on with the hikes no matter what the weather turns out to
be. As we approached the summit day, the clouds got thicker and
started raining. We decided to wait a day for the summit,
and we did, but the weather did not cleared completely.
Eventually, we decided that it was all good to carry on for
the summit and off we went. We started at about 8am and
reached the long tiring summit just after 5 pm. We were
tired and it was getting cold.
This peak is at 3600mt and it is the highest in the range of
mountains. As we were setting up camp right on top of it, a group of
about 20 boy scouts reached it and it was starting to rain,
so they had to set up camp really fast.
As the evening progressed, the storm turned into a major
lightning storm and we all retreated into our tents.
The storm got worse and thunder was pounding from all angles
on a regular basis. Lighting got closer and closer and every
time there was one, we heard a very loud explosion, which
put all of us into high alert.
I instructed everyone, to take all batteries or anything
electronic to put it into a bag and give it to me. I went
outside in the middle of the storm and took the whole pile
away far from the tents. I got a few real frights as I saw
lightning strike the peak really close to us.
We could smell the burning ground.
In the end, there was nothing else to do but to ride the
storm. We all got into our tents and went into our sleeping
bags hoping for the best.
The lightning got worse and the hits closer. The explosions
of the hits were so loud that it was almost deafening.
Children in the other tents started to cry and the teachers
had to get them grouped into the tents.
We then all started to sing to get everyone relaxed, and for
the nest 3 hours, we sang to the storm and the storm kept
hitting us with lightning very close by.
I remember looking out the tent for a second and seeing one
hitting the ground about 100 Mt from us.
We eventually fell asleep and next day, we woke up in total
silence and the sun shining on our tents.
As we got out, we had the most awesome view from the top of
the mountain with the valley under us, covered in cotton
like clouds. You felt like jumping on it.
So, after a night of total stormy terror, we were greeted by
Guests were a bit shaken but loved the experience.
To our great amazement, our bag of batteries were ok and not
hit by lightning.
This is probably one of the scariest moments I have had in
I respect Nature and its power, and I also realize how
vulnerable we are to it.
Lucky for us, Nature spared us that night!!!
To baboon or not to baboon!!!
Back to the Top of the Page
In one of my many hiking trips, I was doing a 12 days hike
in the Drakensberg.
Every day we would walk about 10 km and setup camp somewhere
in the mountains.
One of the afternoons, we were due to arrive at Leopards
cave, where we were supposed to spend the night.
Leopards cave is situated in a very steep slope and to get
to it, you have to scramble up hill and enter it from one of
One of the things about this cave is that it is only 1.2 Mt
high, it is about 30 Mt wide and 4 Mt deep.
In the afternoon, while we were approaching the cave from
the other side of the hill, we heard a large group of
As we got closer to the cave, I realized that the baboons
were actually in the cave where we were supposed to spend
There were about 40 of them, with a few quite large
At this point, we had no other place to go as we were in the
valley up in the mountain, so we had to get to the cave
I knew that the baboons would not just move from the cave,
so I had to device a way to get them out of it. I decided to
make some fire torches using dry grass at the end of sticks.
I had to improvise to get the guests to the night base.
So, we lighted the grass, and we proceeded very carefully to
enter the cave.
The baboons, were very upset with us, because they had to
leave their night shelter. Lots of screaming and showing off
went on here, and after a few very scary moments we managed
to get the animals out.
As we settled into the cave, we kept hearing the baboons in
the distance, screaming and threatening, so we decided that
it would be wise to make a fire and keep it going for the
The night went on and we eventually got into our sleeping
bags and we all went to sleep, with the fire still on.
In the middle of the night, we got a bight fright as one of
the baboons entered the cave and stole a plastic bag that we
had left with some left over food.
We lit the fire again and carried on sleeping.
Next morning, we woke up, and normally you would look out of
the cave into the landscape and see the mountains and the
valley, but all we got was a curtain of baboons standing in
the entrance ready to move in.
We saw in their faces and body language that they meant
business. The alpha male was showing a lot of aggression and
was enticing the other ones.
We quickly realized that it was our time to leave in a
hurry, so we packed up and left the cave. Baboons screaming
all around us and claiming their sleeping spot which they
were not willing to let us keep.
As soon as we left, they entered the cave and started
screaming their lungs off as if saying, stay off!!.
This is one of those moment when Nature tolerates human
intervention for just one time and then it decides no more.
We got lucky getting away from such a number of baboons
without getting into trouble. So I thank NATURE for that
moment of tolerance towards us.
Listen carefully or pay the consequences
Back to the Top of the Page
It is so important to get the guests to LISTEN to your
instructions. And this is by no means an understatement.
Guests do not know how much trouble can come their way for
not doing so.
In one of my many garden route tours, I took a family of 7
to do a Canopy Tour. This is done by Hanging on a harness
from a steel cable that connects very high tree's canopies
It is lots of fun and generally very safe.
One of the main instructions that I always give to the
people doing it, is to LIFT their legs when reaching the
platform on the other side. This is to avoid the impact of
your leg with it coming at high speed on the pulley.
On this particular occasion. One of the dads was having a
ball. And i noticed that with all the excitement he was
landing very hard and with legs down onto the platforms.
I reminded him in 3 occasions to lift his legs but he
ignored the instruction. On the 4th pulley i decided to go
ahead and wait on the other side to remind him again. But no
amount of screaming the instruction to him got any results.
I got a bit worried and gave him a bit of a pep talk just to
let him know what could happen. To this he thank me and told
me he was fine. So i decided to get off his case.
On the next pulley, the adventure assistant warned us that
it was a long and very fast one, so we were to make sure to
land with legs up.
Two got going and all was fine.
The Dad then decided it was his turn and he took off,
clowning around with his legs up in the air. Unfortunately
he did not watched the journey through the pulley and as he
got to the end, he decided he was going too fast and tried
to use his legs as brake. Bad mistake. All we heard was a
loud crack and a big shout. And all i saw was raw bone and
blood squirting from his knee.
His right leg took the full impact, and his tibia broke
right through his knee, and the bone was exposed about 10 cm
I knew immediately that this was a serious injury.
I got the assistant to help me getting him off the pulley
and i went straight into action. Took my vest, and wrapped
it around the exposed bone and made a bandage to immobilize
the leg. Took my water bottle and wet the bandage to make
sure the injury remained damp.
Now, remember that this happened at 25 Mt above ground and
we were on a platform on top of the tree. So i had to
improvise an effective harness to lower him down.
We managed to get him to the forest floor and the rest of
the family too, who were all in panic mode, so i had to do
some calming down and some reassurance control.
The next challenge was to get him back to reception, and i
instructed the assistant to radio back and get a quad bike
with a wooden board to come and get us. The ground was very
steep and there was no way of getting a car to the site.
After 20 mins. The quad bike arrived and i tied the patient
to the wooden board and then the board to the back of the
quad bike. At this stage, the slightest movement caused
excruciating pain to him and we had to do everything really
I treated him for shock and got going really slow.
35 mins later we arrived at reception just to find out that
they did not have a first aid kit (which i thought it was
I called emergency and they dispatched a helicopter
While we waited, i change the dressing and kept an eye on
the patient and the rest of the family who were in total
When the helicopter arrived, we loaded him and after getting
the activity centre to provide me with a driver, i
instructed him to take the guests to our next destination
and leave them at the hotel.
I then flew with the patient to the hospital (which was in
the same city as their next hotel). On arrival they admitted
him and had to have an immediate operation to rectify his
All went ok and after 1.5 hrs he came out with a plastered
leg with pins sticking out everywhere.
Doctor said he could continue the trip as long as he was on
a wheel chair. So i organized to rent one from the hospital.
He was discharged at 7:45 next morning and the driver picked
us up and took us to the hotel where the anxious family had
It was so nice to see them reunite with husband, dad and
uncle and hugs and kisses flew everywhere. They thanked me
so much for having taken care of the situation and for
having kept my cool at all times. Doctors at the hospital
also told the patient that he had been lucky to have had me
to take charge of the situation, because it was due to my
quick actions that the injury did not become a more serious
I got so many compliments from everyone and the family
treated me for the next remaining 3 days to scrumptious
I finally had to say good bye to them in Port Elizabeth, and
everyone cried their heart out saying good bye to me.
It was such a nice intense moment as it always is.
The patient thank me from his heart and told me next time he
will make sure to listen to the tour guide.
You know, while you are with the guests, your whole body and
you just keeps going. You have no time for weakness,
especially under such circumstances. But let me tell you as
soon as you say good bye and they are gone. Your body just
says "enough" and you feel all the weakness and emotions
coming to you all of a sudden.
This is what normally happens, and i had to go and chill out
for about 2 hrs before embarking on my trip back to Cape
The realization of what happened, what you have done and the
what ifs suddenly comes down on you like a hammer.
I am so glad that i could come through with it though, and
also that i could handle the situation in a calm and
NO AMMOUNT OF TRAINING can prepare you for the real thing.
If you don’t listen you will be punished!!!
Back to the Top of the Page
I told you all that being a Tour Guide has its positive and
its negative things. And I also told you all that Tourists
are very interesting people, but they can be at the same
time difficult, and this might get you into trouble.
On one of my tours to Botswana, I was taking a small family
(Mother, Daughter and child) around to all the beautiful
places to see over there.
The mother was a divorcee that was trying desperately to
bond with her children after a very troublesome divorce.
The Girl was ok, but the boy was not handling it very well,
and he was going around with a totally negative and bad
attitude and with no interest in anything.
We eventually went to do the Mokoro Trips in the swamps of
Mokoros are canoes made out of a tree trunk that has been
hollowed. They are very low and you sit very close to the
water level on them.
We boarded the canoes and got on our way. Silence and
stillness is part of the experience as there are no engines
powering them; just a pole bearer standing at the back of
the canoe and pushing it through the water.
I noticed that the boy was playing with his hands splashing
the water, and I warned him NOT to do this, as it was very
dangerous because of the crocodiles.
He did not listen to me and carried on playing with the
water, so I repeated the order and gave him a good
explanation of what could happen.
He was not interested and very rudely told me to leave him
alone. I then spoke to the mother, asking her to please talk
to him to stop playing with the water, because a crocodile
could grab his hand.
She then told me to leave him alone as he was in a very bad
mood. So I told her that I wanted to be record that I had
3 minutes later, a 1.5 Mt crocodile jumped out of the water
and grabbed his hand. We all got such a fright and luckily
the canoe did not tip. I grabbed him from behind to help him
balance and we tried to get the animal to let go of his
hand, but as you all know, once a crocodile bites, it does
not let go.
Mother, sister and boy screaming frantically, and then the
guide who was operating the canoe, started to hit the animal
with his pole.
It took many hard blows before the animal eventually let go
of the child's hand. As I held him, I also saw a few larger
crocodiles jump in the water because of the commotion.
We eventually got back into our seats and I bandaged his
hand which was bleeding badly. We had to go back then and
look for a clinic as I knew he would need stitches.
We tool 1 day to reach a clinic (because of the remoteness
of the place).
He was given 20 stitches and his had was put in a special
The mother was then very apologetic because of not listening
to my instruction, and so was he.
It is so common for the guests to ignore the guide's
recommendations and in this case, it almost turned into a
tragedy. If we had lost our balance, the canoe would have
tipped and we would have all ended in the water infested
There is a reason why Tour Guides are there, to Guide and
advice for every situation, and ignoring their advice can
The only good thing that came out of this adventure, is that
the mother got to bond very well wither children in view of
the almost tragedy, and for this I was happy.
Time to take a nap!!!
Back to the Top of the Page
Let me tell you that one of the scariest moments I have had,
was when I was asked to guide for a family which consisted
of Mother, Dad, Granny, Daughter (8 years) and Son (9 years)
and a Nanny.
Now, everyone would think that this is a normal every day
family, but it came with a BIG surprise for me as Tour
At their arrival at the airport, I greeted them and welcomed
them as I usually do. I noticed that the boy did not greet
me or even acknowledged my being there. I thought: he must
be really tired and needs time to adjust, so I let him be.
The next day I picked them up to get going on our Garden
The boy still totally ignoring me and I noticed that he
ignored everything around him.
I decided to ask the mother what was wrong, and to my
surprise she told me that he is an Autistic Child.
I have dealt with children like these before and although I
got a bit worried, I did not make much of it at the time.
The nanny was brought exclusively to look after the child
and watch out for him.
We got going and we reached Oudtshoorn and decided to go and
visit the majestic Cango Caves.
We entered the caves and I was very aware that the child
must be well looked after, just in case of any funny
reaction from him.
I saw the Nanny hold him and I stayed behind them while we
went down into the caves.
In the main Hall, the guide gave us his usual talk about the
formations and the history of the caves.
I looked up to see the ceiling for a single second and to my
surprise as I looked down back to the Nanny and boy, he was
I quickly asked her where he was and she replied that he was
here just now. I immediately looked for him amongst the rest
of the visitors but could not find him.
I asked the mother if she had seen him and then of course
all hell broke loose as she discovered that her child had
I spoke to the guide and told him the situation and the fact
that the child was autistic.
We all scrambled through the Cave looking for the boy, to no
avail. No amount of calling for him could find him.
Extra guides were called in to search and we all went
frantic looking for him in every crevasse in the caves.
After 2,5 frantic hours running up and down and checking
everywhere, I finally found the boy cuddled up inside a hole
in the cave.
You have no idea the relief I felt when I saw him, but at
the same time the anger I felt for the family not informing
the operator of the child's condition and also for the Nanny
losing sight of him for that second.
People do not understand how important it is to inform a
tour operator of any existing condition if you are
travelling, because in the end, it is left to the Tour Guide
During the Ordeal, the parents informed us that the child
suffers from severe autism and he disconnects himself
sometimes completely from his surrounds, to such an extent
that he ignores any calls and anything happening around him.
This little detail was NOT mentioned anywhere during their
dealings with the Tour Operator from whom they bought the
Needless to say that from that moment on, I glued myself to
the boy for the rest of the trip, and the poor Nanny did not
enjoy any of it as her job had apparently been put on the
In the end, I was so glad that nothing had happened to the
boy, who was oblivious to what had happened and did not
understand what had all the fuss been about. He was in his
own world and enjoying it, but I got the biggest fright of
Rhino mound is the only choice!!!
Back to the Top of the Page
While we were doing a walking safari in a private game
reserve, we were enjoying the landscape and some beautiful
giraffes that did not mind us being there. They looked at us
as if saying: are you not out of place here?.
After about 2 hrs. walking, we stopped for a bite to eat on
top of a hill where we could see far into the distance.
Our tracker told us that he could smell rhinos and we would
be going to see them but that we would need to be very
careful because he could smell a calf.
He instructed the group (made of 12 guests plus me) to walk
in a single line and not to make a noise. He also told us
that should we encounter the rhinos, we should be VERY still
as they have very sensitive ears. If they charge, we should
run towards a tree and stand still next to the trunk or find
a large termite hill and climb on top of it.
We all laughed at the idea and dismissed the pep talk as a
very funny thing.
We then headed towards the Rhinos. Our guide suddenly
stopped and told us to be still. He instructed us to move
against the bush that was behind him and to wait there while
he goes ahead and checks.
He then left us and I then being the next one behind him,
instructed the guests to be still and quiet.
3 Minutes passed and suddenly I saw the guide running
towards us and signalling to run. We told the guests to run
for a tree and as I looked back, there was a rhino following
the guide at high speed.
We all scrambled for the trees and
hid behind it as instructed. 30mt from us we saw the guide
jump on top of a 1.5mt. Ant hill and stand completely still.
The rhino hit the mound with the nose once and then stood
there just watching. I think he could hear the breathing of
the guide,because he kept blowing his nose.
seemed an eternity, the rhino turned around and headed into
the bush. To our surprise, we saw that a baby rhino had come
out following the mom. They both looked towards us and
headed into the wilderness again.
The guide got off the ant hill and we decided it was time to
come out and very quickly get out of that area.
It was a very tense moment and when we asked the guide, he
told us that as he came out of the bush, he came face to
face with the baby and when the mother saw him, it charged
instantly, so he had to run for it.
The guide was a tracker with over 20 years’ experience in
the field and even this did not help him see what was
Wildlife is and will always be wild, and they will do
anything to protect their young.
We must never forget this!
Giving Happiness is the most rewarding thing
Back to the Top of the Page
One of the greatest reward to being a tour guide, is that
you get the chance to be part of something very special. You
get to help people do, and achieve something unique.
One of those moments for me, was when I was asked to carry a
group of 28 British Hindus to the Garden Route.
Now, what is special about this group, is that the youngest
was 85 years old and the eldest was 102.Although they sound
to be pretty old, let me tell you these people were full of
life and enjoyment in everything they did.
And they came to South Africa with a single purpose; to
visit Cango Caves and be able to do their ritual Earth
They all dreamed of being able to go down into the cave
(which is huge), and be able to dance to earth.
So we left on our garden route trip on our way to Cango
We got there at around 2 in the afternoon, and the
excitement in their face was very obvious and made them be
full of life and wanting to do things.
Now, remember that these people were not able to walk very
fast or able to climb any form of steps.
When we got to the Caves, I spoke to management and asked
them if they had a wheel chair I could borrow so that I
could take them down into the main chamber of the cave.
Unfortunately they did not have any. The look in their face
after I told them it was going to be impossible for them to
walk down, was really something undescribable. I decided
then, that I will have to make a plan, and I had it.
So, I spoke to my driver and asked him if he would be
willing to put it into action, to which he agreed.
The plan: I asked a few of the ladies who were wearing a
sari (Indian dress), if we could borrow the long scarves
they were wearing (which were of a very strong material). I
explained the plan to them and they agreed. So we made a
long hammock type seat with them, and we hang them on our
shoulders between driver and me. We then sat the guests one
by one and walk them like that down to the chamber.
Getting down is really steep and it has lost of stairs which
they would not have been able to tackle.
So, one by one we took them down. It took us about 1.5 hrs
to do this, but we got them all down. The staff of the cave
were so impressed with what we were doing that they also
When we had them all down, they then started humming and got
into a circle and did the most beautiful dance I have seen.
Simple, soft and gentle movements, with so much grace that
you forgot that these were elders dancing.
The dance lasted about 30 minutes and the people at the end
were all crying. It was at this stage that I realised how
important this had been for them. The all came to me and the
driver and thanked us from their heart for having taken the
big trouble and for having helped them making their dream
Of course, we had to take them back up again, and this took
another 1.5 hours. By the end we were drenched in sweat and
we were so tired that our bodies ached from top to bottom.
We got on the bus on our way to the hotel, and the gests
sang a beautiful song for us as a mean of thanks.
During dinner, they all gave us a standing ovation for the
trouble, and we were told that we would live forever in
This ladies and gentleman, is what makes it all worth it.
The smile in those people’s faces and the happiness we were
able to give them. No amount of money can compare to it.
I feel honoured to have had the chance to help these people
achieve their dream.
My first official tour
Back to the Top of the Page
I must tell you that there is nothing more stressful than
when you are given your first tour. Although you know what
to do, now you must DO it. And although I had done it many
times with my own clients, now I had do it for someone else,
and everything must go according to plan.
My first tour was a garden route with 32 guests. I was sent
to Oudtshoorn, Knysna and Port Elizabeth, so I felt very
confident because I knew the area (or so I thought).
We get going in the bus on our way via route 62. The trip
was a bit long because the bus can only travel at 100 km per
Guests enjoyed the trip very much. We did Cango caves and
then we had to go to SAFARI ranch.
I had never been there but as we got to the farm, I got off
the bus in a hurry with the excuse that I urgently needed
the toilet. Told the guests to wait for me at the curio shop
of the farm and then I run through the whole farm and place
to familiarise myself with the place.
This took me about 3 minutes and on my return, I shuffled
the guests to the start of the tour of the ostriches. They
were very impressed with my talk of the place and the
explanation I gave them about the Ostriches, and I had such
a good laugh about it, because this was my first time here,
and the guests were convinced that I had been there so many
So the tour went on and we eventually reached another place
I had never been. Storms River National park.
Now, let me tell you, that when a guest asks you if you know
the place, you say "yes of course" because they expect you
to. They asked me about the hanging bridge over the river
mouth and all asked me to take them there. I, of course told
them that this would be no problem, that we would take a
nice walk to it.
On arrival I told them that before the walk, they would have
lunch first. This would give me time to do my
As soon as the guests got settled into their lunch, I then
took my run all the way to the famous hanging bridge. To my
advantage, I am an ultra-marathon runner. The distance to
the bridge is about 2km, which means that I had to run 4km
in total to go and see the bridge. Any normal person would
have been out of steam by now, but luckily I was OK. As I
got back to my guests I had to then take them back to the
bridge, which meant another 4km walk in total.
By the end of this visit, I was actually tired, but my
guests were so impressed with my knowledge of the place.
If there is something that I have learnt during my guiding,
is that the most important thing is to make them feel at
ease with the knowledge that you know What you are doing,
Where you are going and How to handle anything!. These are
the most important things that make a tour guide a success
with his clients.
Tanzania, My first encounter
Back to the Top of the Page
During my trip to Tanzania (where I was making my dream come
true), after having climbed Kilimanjaro, I decided to visit
the rest of this fantastic place. So, my guide got a friend
to hire me a huge Land Rover.
I packed my things and left without any plans or itinerary,
but only with the idea of travelling and viewing AFRICA.
My first views of Moshi (the town where I started the trip
from), was that of amazement. Everything happens on the
I saw vendors selling all sorts of goods on the street. Even
fridges and mattresses. African men and women dressed in
colourful materials were lining the streets, sitting in
front of their sewing machines and working on creating some
sort of garment.
This to me is what Africa and its people are all about. When
there is a job to be done, it gets done, no matter where.
I must tell you that I got so embarrassed at myself. You
see, while I was travelling in my Land Rover, I started to
see people showing me signs from their cars and also from
Initially I though "that is quite funny", but as I carried
on travelling, I noticed that from every single car that
passed, the people would go to lengths to stick their hands
or half their body out of their window to show me what I
thought were obscene signs. Eventually I decided this is not
on and I even showed some of them signs back.
Eventually after about 45 mins. of going through this, at a
stop street, I noticed that lots of people were pointing
down at my car. So I stopped, and to my surprise, I found
that I had had a flat tyre for quite a long time, and this
was the reason for all the signs and warnings.
I felt like a total idiot for thinking bad of the people
So, I had to stop at a small town and try to find a place
where I could have the tyre fixed. Well, in Africa
EVERYTHING happens on the streets, so, when I asked a person
about it he told me he can fix it quickly. I though he had a
garage to do it, so I agreed to a rate and to my great
amazement, he whistled to some friends and after talking a
bit of Swahili with them, they ran off to fetch some tools
and got busy in my car right there, on the side of the road.
I was so taken aback that I had nothing to say. Seeing 4
guys just deciding to fix a tyre on a Land Rover right
They seemed to know what they were doing, so I let them. I
stood on the side of the road watching the proceedings until
one of them obviously very concerned about me "the client",
called for one of his friends to run and get me a chair to
So, there, on the side of the road, I was supplied with a
chair to sit on and a coke to drink. This is
entrepreneurship at its best!
It took them 2.5 hrs. to get the job done because they had
to take the tyre form the wheel off with hammer and chisel.
When they were done, they were drenched in sweat and dirty
from toe to head.
I really enjoyed this so much, their spirit, their
ingenuity, their improvisation that I paid hem twice the
amount they had agreed.
They were so happy that they even cleaned my car spotless.
A Safari too close for comfort
Back to the Top of the Page
I recently had a very scary moment, not due to my
fault but due to an overconfident guide.
We were doing an open vehicle safari in Huangwe
National Park in Botswana, and we came across a lion mating
pair under a bush. These were about 30 Mt from the road and
although we could see them, they were not quite clear. The
driver then decided to go off road closer to the lions and
off we went. I thought he knew what he was doing so I left
As we got to about 8 Mt from the pair of lions,
the vehicle’s left wheel fell into a hole in the sand. Right
there in front of the felines.
The guide/driver then tried to get us loose, but
he could not. I could see that he was not a very experienced
4x4 driver, as he forgot to engage the 4x4 before going off
Now, the problem with these cars is that you need
to engage the front wheels manually by means of turning the
diff lock on both wheels. But we could not get off the
vehicle because of the lions.
After much hesitation from the driver, I had to
take control of the situation and I instructed him first to
put down the flaps of the land cruiser in order to protect
the guests, who were starting to get really scared. The lion
by now was aware of us and was watching our every move.
The driver then got on top of the vehicle to
release the flaps and this made the male lion very upset. He
stood up and gave us a very loud warning roar and then he
charged for a short distance and then took off.
The lioness did something similar and they both
disappeared under the bush.
At this stage then, I instructed the guests to
watch out for the lions while I create a path under the tyre
so we could get it unstuck.
Eventually I had to get them off the vehicle and
help pushing it out.
The driver kept on stalling the car, so I took over the
driving and got the car in reverse and managed to get it
All guests finally back in the car and off we went
back to the main road.
Let me tell you that if that lion had decided to
charge full on, we would have not had a chance. When he
moved it was like lightning and it was a very scary
experience seeing this massive cat come towards us.
I told the driver that this was a very silly thing to have
done, because we could have ended with a disaster. Firstly
he forgot to engage the 4x4, secondly he did not know his
vehicle and third, he disobeyed a basic safari rule; not to
go off road. Plus he put the vehicle instead of the guest’s
I was not impressed to say the least and the
guests got really scared especially when I had to ask them
to leave the car.
Another wildlife experience to cherish!!
Back to the Top of the Page
Nature has a way to show you beauty in many ways,
and sometimes although it can be cruel, it gives you the
most incredible spectacles.
We were sitting in front of a water hole for a
while and then we saw a giraffe running towards the water.
Now this was a large one and what we noticed was that its
running was very strange.
As she came in front of us, we saw to our
astonishment that a female lioness was hanging from her
buttock using her teeth and claws, and we saw that she had a
big open gush on the hind leg.
She was obviously injured for a while now and she
was very weak. So much so that she collapsed 5 meters in
front of us.
This was such a shock to us, to see this giant
come down and making a very large “thud” noise.
Because we were so focused on her and the lioness,
we did not see that there were 6 other female lions trailing
her, and as soon as she came down, they all went for her
throat and held her tight for what seemed an eternity.
When they made certain that she was dead, they
then rested (the lionesses) and they started tearing pieces
of skin and feeding.
This was one of those spectacles of nature that
only if you respect and understand the way it must be, you
will enjoy it. The efficiency of the bite for suffocating,
the strength of the felines at holding on, and the way they
feed, was an awesome sight.
As soon as the animal was killed, we saw all sorts of other
animals gather close. Vultures, Jackals, even a zebra came
to see what was going on.
And they all knew their turn too. A completely purposeful
killing, where nothing was wasted.
We stayed watching all this for about 4 hrs and then we had
to go. Next day we decided to return to the site, and we
were impressed at how little was left of the giraffe. Some
of the bones were cleaned white.
Nature is most amazing and most powerful when left
as it should be. This experience has always been in me, and
I thank Nature for providing me such incredible opportunity.
Elephants, elephants everywhere, not a sky to
see..Back to the Top of the Page
During my travels, I have come across incredible
wildlife, and needless to say that it is awesome to be able
to experience it at close quarters, I had more than a close
encounter once with my family.
We were sitting quietly at a water hole in the
Addo elephant park. Playing chess and reading (because this
is the only way to see things in the wilderness), when i
looked into my rear mirror and saw a cloud of dust. I said
to the kids, wow there is a dust storm coming!, just as a
comment, not that it would inconvenience us as we are used
to these kinds of natural things. We then carried on with
our games and reading.
A few minutes later suddenly everything became
darker, in all sides and when we looked, we realised that
the dust storm had turned into a grey wall all around us.
You see we were facing the water hole and I think
most of the Elephants of Addo decided to come and drink
water. But we were in the only path there was for them to
access the water from the area they came from. So, they went
around us and started queuing for their turns.
You see, elephants are very sociable and sometimes
many families and their matriarchs gather at the water hole
without any problems.
So, we were at the gathering. And to say this was
a scary experience is an understatement. There were at least
200 elephants all around us and even if we wanted to move,
there was no place for us to run through or out of the
herds. They of course were not interested in us little
humans, so mostly we were left to our own devices. But we
were able to watch the interaction between them soooooo
closely. Babies got very inquisitive and tried to sneak
their trunks into the open windows, teenagers were playing a
mere meter from the car, moms kept a watchful eye over their
youngs all the time, and when one of them got annoyed and
blew from her trunk at one of the aunties, we thought the
world was coming down on us.
The power of these gentle giants is incredible,
and their caring ways, and the way they all take
responsibility for their young is something we as humans
We stayed surrounded for about 3 hrs, and we saw
how each family took their turn patiently to approach the
water hole and have their drink. We also saw how babies were
helped to the edge and looked after by all the family while
they tried very comically to use their trunks to drink
Eventually, one by one the families dispersed and
stayed in the vicinity of the water hole, saying hello to
each other and touching trunks, and making all sorts of
noises. 4 hours later, we started to see an opening on the
gray wall and we stayed put the whole time until they left.
We were so overwhelmed by the experience that we
did not say a word for about 5 minutes. Eventually I decided
to break the ice and made a huge scream to which my kids
almost had a heart attack. We had such a good laugh at it.
And let me tell you, we discussed the details of what each
of us saw that day for weeks to come.
This beats any movies, games or television series.
My family still talks about this wonderful opportunity that
Nature gave us to share such an intense and beautiful
My kids have been going with me on all my
adventures ever since small, and they have learnt to
appreciate and admire nature for its power, beauty and
simplicity, and this is better than anything any school
could teach them.
I am grateful to have them with such open mindness
and willingness to enjoy nature and life the way I do.
Calamity can also strike during a tour.
Back to the Top of the Page
Tourists are like 3 years old children. When you
tell them not to do something, they will go and do it on
purpose. If you tell them not to go there because it is
dangerous, they will do exactly that.
In my trips, I have all sorts of emergencies too.
And this is where you as a tour guide must be prepared and
In one of my trips, we stopped to see the highest
bungee jumping in the world in the garden route. You have a
fantastic view point from the cafeteria, where you can see
the people jumping off the bridge which has a 289 meters
fall below it.
We arrived at this place with my group of middle
There was someone getting ready to jump and so, we all went
to the view point, and although the view is great, one of
the ladies in my group, decided to have a better vantage
point and climbed onto the seat of a wooden table bench.
As she stepped on it, I warned her that it was a
very slippery surface and this was not going to be a good
idea. Nevertheless, she got onto the bench and unfortunately
she slipped off and fell very badly onto the floor, hitting
her head against the sharp corner of the table.
She managed to get a big cut in her head which
started to bleed heavily.
I immediately went into action and got everyone to
move away and treated her bleeding with pressure from my
hand. Everyone around was screaming and panicking, so I had
to shout orders to a few bystanders to help me. I got them
to contact 911 and report the accident and request urgent
assistance as the lady would need to be stitched up.
The emergency unit gave me instructions on the
phone as to how to treat the bleeding and i concentrated on
doing this first. We then got the lady moved to a better
spot waiting for the ambulance.
Meanwhile the rest of the group was in shock to
see all the blood spilled and some of them even freaked out.
I had to calm 4 people and asked others to help them.
A Helicopter arrived at the scene and I had to fly
with the patient to the hospital which was about 150 km
I instructed the bus driver to take the rest of
the guests to the end of day destination, and to make sure
all were accommodated properly.
I stayed at the hospital that night as the lady
was operated and she got about 30 stitches in her head.
Fortunately she was ok. In a lot of pain but otherwise
Next day we were flown by helicopter back to our
group who were very anxious about their travelling friend.
On arrival there, we had a big reception from them and I was
thanked many times for all the trouble I went to, and for
managing to organize all the things under pressure.
The lady gave me a huge hug in the morning and
thank me for helping her, and for keeping everyone around
me, calm and for acting so professionally under the
This is the moment where you as a tour guide need
to shine. And if you think tour guiding is an easy job, let
me tell you it is not. And the reward you get from the
knowledge that you did good in helping, is the best and
stays with you forever.
Too close to my baby!!!
Back to the Top of the Page
Animals have no mercy when it comes to defending
their young. And I experienced this first hand.
During a safari in the Kruger Park, we were
driving on an open land rover and I, as the tour guide, was
sitting in the rear sit, which slightly overhangs from the
vehicle at the back.
Normally the main guide drives the vehicle and
finds the animals, and the secondary guide assists and
complement the comments.
So, that day, I was the secondary guide.
a family of Rhinoceros; mother, father and baby, and the
guide took us right next to the family. It was awesome to
see and feel these great creatures right next to us.
The main guide was telling us all about the
behaviour and life of these amazing animals, and we got to
tell the clients a lot of information on them. Unfortunately
we both focused on the mother and the cute baby, and we lost
sight of the male, which had disappeared from view. Bad
We were busy telling the clients how powerful
these animals were, when we heard what sounded like a
locomotive approach. We did not have time to react in any
way. The male rhino charged our vehicle from behind with all
his might, and hit the bottom of the wooden plank where I
was sitting with his horn. This broke the plank where I was
sitting, and I literally flew forward to the front of the
vehicle with the impact. The male rhino then charged again
from the side and the driver then had to make a quick run
After the second charge, the male stood there like
saying: have you had enough yet?. We certainly got the
message and moved away from the family.
My flight was so out of a comic book, that
everyone packed up laughing (me included), and they all took
photos of their guide having been thrown around by a rhino.
I tell you, I went down in history.
On our return to the lodge, we checked for the
damage to the vehicle and we were astounded by the strength
of these animals. The vehicle looked as if it had been hit
by a truck or something. The side of it was completely bent
and the back was all dented in. The rhino had not a scratch
on him afterwards.
Moral of the story: when babies are involved, in
the wilderness, stay away and respect the space that the
animals give you.
Beautiful people, beautiful land!!!
Back to the Top of the Page
My trips have taken me to places I would never
have dreamed of visiting, and I have been able to meet
incredible cultures and learn so much about humans and their
One of the most beautiful people I have met, are
the Himbas of Namibia. These are the ochre people, covered
completely in a red cream from top to bottom including their
These people live a semi native type of life, and
they are still semi nomads in and around Namibia. The men
are cattle herders and the women are the ones that maintain
Women take pride in their looks, and for 3 hours
every day, they get together in the village and they groom
and make themselves beautiful.
To them, the body is part of the ornament and they
are not shy in any way with it. They bear their breasts
completely bare, and they let them grow to enormous sizes as
a token of beauty. They are shy people but you cannot walk
over them as they very soon pick up anyone that tries to
abuse their looks or presence.
In one of my trips, I was doing a 28 day Safari
through Namibia, and the one route that I was given was a
4x4 track along the river bordering Angola.
Our truck was heavy and I was travelling with 26
Spaniards. The road they gave us to take, was a single
track, and there was no way to turn a vehicle around. After
put putting for about 2 hours, we came to a stone bridge
that had been washed away by the current, so we were stuck
right there and then. We could not turn back and could not
go forward. So, I decided that the best was to make an
adventure of it all, and after talking to the guests, we
decided to camp there and then and we decided to rebuild
part of the stone bridge to get across.
We worked for about 3 hrs that day and another 1.5
hrs the next morning and eventually we got it done.
What made the whole thing amazing, besides the fact that the
guests were very keen on it all, was also that we were
visited by a group of himbas during the night, as we had
been stuck in a spot very close to their village.
They in term called a number of other men and
helped us with the bridge fixing.
At night, we made a big fire and they came to join
us for supper and showed us their beautiful dances and
shared with us some of their customs.
We learnt that Ladies are very skilful in their
tasks of up keeping the camp or village, and untidiness was
not in their vocabulary. We were offered Mopanie worms to
eat as an offering. This kept us laughing for a long time as
every one of my people almost threw up trying to eat one of
these creatures. The Himbas thought it was hilarious, to see
these city slickers unable to eat such delicatessen.
Their dances were so powerful and had so much
grace that we were all taken aback by their performance.
Children danced around the fire with such freedom and
beauty, that we forgot where we were completely.
The women then sang for us under the stars and
this was the most beautiful choir I have ever heard under a
Seeing the men and women dance so freely, their
bodies moving and forming amazing shapes with the shadows
created by the fire, was an experience that left us all
touched. The fact that all women were topless and that the
men were wearing just a simple cloth to cover their groins,
was completely forgotten, and we all blended in this moment.
Two groups of people so different in customs, culture and
ideas, and yet so much the same as human beings.
The next day we slowly and carefully got the truck
over the bridge, and we all cheered to out achievement. The
whole Himba village came to greet us good bye, and gave us
such beautiful simple good bye presents such as a thorn, a
twig from a bush and a calabash of sour milk.
This is Africa at its best, and this is why I
always urge people to come and visit it’s beauty, it’s
people and it’s cultures. My guests were so happy that we
had gotten stuck, or we would have never been able to
experience this moment.
Bias ideas into one’s Head.
Back to the Top of the Page
My travels have taken me to many destinations and
I have been honoured to meet incredible people.
Most times we have certain ideas about groups of people that
are not really positive, and unfortunately are based on what
the media makes it to be.
In one of my trips to Namibia, I was given the
task to carry with me an ex General from the cold war and
his partner. When I was told about this, i thought: wow, an
I must admit that I was very bias about it and I
resented the task. I thought, these are the guys who keep
the world on their toes and are some of the cause for the
Anyway, I decided that I must show my
professionalism, and also that I am better than them, so I
would do it well.
When I saw my guest arrive at the Airport, I was
really taken aback. I was expecting a despot looking man,
with a serious face and no sense of humour at all. Instead,
my guest was quite an ordinary man, in his sixties, and his
partner, a girl of no more than 25. Very pretty, but also
very young. His face showed a life full of sadness and
stress, and his body language was that of a beaten up
I met them and the next day, we got going on our
15 day trip through Namibia.
The man was very pleasant, very gentle with his
partner, and also a very well educated one.
Every night, we would sit at dinner and talk about
the day’s activities and discuss some of the issues in the
world today. And these conversations are what made me
understand that I was completely misinformed about the
world, specially his country and the Cold War.
My guest explained to me that he was an Ex-General
during the cold war, and that they were forced to do duty in
the Nuclear Silos. Yes, you read it right. This man had 6
silos under his command, each with a nuclear missile that
could be launched at the push of a button (his).
He also explained to me, that although this sounds
bad from his side, they had no option but do it. His family
was taken prisoner by the government and they were told that
if they did not cooperate, their families would be executed.
Now, they had a very stressful time. They would be
at the silos for 6 months at a time, away from their
families and any contact other than their government. They
had to make contact with their superiors on a daily basis,
and their order was, that if they could not establish
contact with their superiors within any 24 hrs period, they
were to assume that a nuclear war had started, and it was
left up to them to decide on the release of the missiles.
Can you imagine the responsibility?. He told me that many of
these people went mad because of the pressure. Some of them
even run away because they did not want this on their
The pressure they underwent during these times,
was too much, and his family could not take it. So they left
him and he never saw them again.
This is a sad story, told by one of these affected
persons who I always thought were monsters, hungry for war
and for killing people. But it was not always so.
His partner also told me how he suffers from
nightmares every night, and how he has to get away from
everything every now and then because of his inability to be
They met in hospital while both undergoing therapy
and this is how they came to be together.
This experience has told me that in every
conflict, no matter how bad it looks, there is ALWAYS two
sides to the story, and even on the bad side, there is a
different story than the one portrayed by the media.
Our political and religious ideas cause nothing
else but pain and miseries in this world.
Both profess to unite people, but both excel at
doing exactly the opposite.
I was so humbled at having met such a person, who
although was not a hero, or a celebrity, was this ordinary
person, who went through very rough times, and who managed
to stay sane and pulled through it, and was able to share
his experience with the world.
I know that maybe you will be saying: yeah, that
is what he tells you!, but deep in my heart, and deep in his
eyes I saw that he was being honest about the whole thing.
And this is what makes tour guiding a rewarding experience.
Meeting with people, learning their life experiences and
having that human contact that otherwise would be tampered
with by the media and what they want you to see and know.
He explained to me that now they are all retired
individuals, most of them with shattered lives and trying to
pick up the pieces of their lives left.
Water is the only currency
Back to the Top of the Page
There are moments in life that make you realise
how materialistic we are, and how we measure everything in
terms of money, without realising that some things are more
valuable than any money available.
During one of my visits to Tanzania, while
travelling on the Serenguetti, I came across a group of
Masaai men. Real Masaai men, walking in the plains of the
This was my opportunity I thought, of getting a
fantastic picture of them. So, I stopped and approached them
to ask if I could take a picture of them, expecting to be
asked for some money in exchange. I offered them a few
dollars, and to my surprise they did not show any interest
in the money. I then thought, ok, maybe they want more. So,
I offered them double the amount, to which they did not
flinch at all.
They then pointed towards my vehicle, and then I
though, I am now in big trouble, they want my car!.
So I tried to convince them again to take the
money, but one of them approached the car and pointed inside
When they saw that I was not getting the message,
the man then pointed at my 2lt coke bottle which was filled
with water. I understood then what they wanted. It was 41
degrees in the heat, and water is nowhere to be found. So,
for these people, water is precious. So it was there that I
got my wining shots with the amazing Masaai by using my 2lt
of water as currency.
Let me tell you, I offered them initially 5
dollars, then 10 dollars, and only 2lt of water did the
When I gave them the bottle with water, they all
drank just one sip from it, and immediately put it in a bag
which was then covered by a masaai blanket and hang over one
of the warrior’s shoulder.
I, in my stupidity and ignorance, then offered
them 20 dollars for the trouble, but they ignored it
completely and walked off.
A special Kitty cat
Back to the Top of the Page
In one of my trips to Tanzania, I was travelling
alone through the Serenguetti and I decided to go down to
Ngorongoro Crater, which is one of the most spectacular
places on earth.
The crater itself is about 20 km in diameter and
you drive up to the rim of the crater on the outside and
then you go down into the crater itself, where you will find
the most amazing wildlife.
On this particular trip, I saw a Cheetah standing
next to a tree on my way down to the crater.
I stopped the vehicle next to it and decided to
wait and see what the feline would do. After waiting for a
few minutes, the cheetah stood there watching me as if
asking: How is it going?.
I decided that he was relaxed enough for me to get
out of the vehicle, and I then got out slowly and went to
sit on the roof of the land rover. After sitting there for
about 3 minutes, the animal decided that if I am going to be
there, he might as well come and join me. So, to my big
surprise, he walked towards the car, jumped with one single
leap to the roof where I sat, and came to sit right next to
In my teachings about wild life I learnt that they
are actually very scared of humans and that they could never
tackle a human. So I decided to trust my knowledge, and not
panic. I was very relaxed and I even talked to the kitty
while he was approaching me, and when he sat next to me, it
started to Purr.
This moment for me was one of the most rewarding.
Nature talking to me, and trusting me that I would not over
react or harm this beautiful animal. I must admit that I was
a bit scared but my love for the moment gave me the will to
enjoy it without making a fuss about it.
It was wonderful to feel this animal next to me,
watching the landscape, sniffing the air, and hearing it’s
purring as if to say; cool man, you are very cool!.
After sitting there for what seemed an eternity,
the cheetah decided its time to leave, and stood, paused for
a while and after licking his lips, jumped off and
disappeared into the bushes after looking back at me to say
Nature has unique ways to show you it’s beauty,
and this was a sign from it to me. I blended into wild life
for a short moment that I will not forget.
Leave them all up there.
Back to the Top of the Page
My trips are always a new experience
of something new or special.
On one of my trips, I was asked by a
group of 6 ladies, all divorcees, to take them on an
excursion up to the top of Africa. Yes, of course I am
talking about the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.
People climb this awesome mountain for
many reasons. Some take it as a challenge in their life,
some just enjoy the beauty and scenery (which is quite
spectacular), others like the challenge of getting to the
highest mountain in Africa, and others like my ladies,
decided it was a good idea to go to the top of this
grandiose mountain and leave their exes up there.
So, off we went, on a special climb.
Ladies met at a counselling session for people that have
divorced, and they all completed their session to learn how
to cope with their divorce.The last task in their session was to
confront their exes and tell them to leave them finally
alone.So, the whole trip was an actual
We climbed for 5 days, struggling day by day,
step by step as we went along.At night, while we camped on the
slopes of the mountain, the ladies would talk to each other
and told their unique saga in I don’t need to tell you how awkward
this is for a guide, who barely know them, and needs to make
them feel ok about something he knows nothing about. Well,
that was me. 6 Ladies having an emotional breakdown on the
slopes of Kilimanjaro for 5 days in a row. It was quite hectic, but at the same
time an eye opener.
On the 5th day, we had to
do the summit night, and we started to climb as usual at 11
at night, with the idea of reaching the top by about 7am.
I need not to tell you how my ladies
struggled this last stage, as we were reaching the stunning
5890mt above sea level.At dawn, we eventually got there, with
the sun just teasing to come out, and with minus 12 degrees.
Ladies were exhausted but amazingly,
they all gathered their strength and pushed for the last leg
which is to reach Uhuru peak, the highest part of
Kilimanjaro.After reaching it, and celebrating,
they formed a circle and each took out a photo of their
They each in turn spelled their heart out to the man
in the photo and told him to leave them alone. Each one
ending in tears and sobs.As each spoke to their exes, they held
each other and gave support to each other. It was so intense
a moment, and then I realized how important it was for these
people, to let go of their emotions, and how important this
trip was for them. I felt the pain for each of the ladies,
and felt how difficult their separation had been. To be
quite honest, I cried as much as they did, just listening to
When each had had their turn, they
stood up and let me tell you, I have never seen instant new
people before in my life.
The ladies that stood and celebrated
were not the same which I helped get up there.They were ecstatic and full of vigour
and energy and they all thanked me for the effort I put to
get them there, and for the encouragement I gave to those
that almost did not make it.
After watching the sunset, and taking
a moment to enjoy the 360 view of Africa from the top, we
started our descent, and these ladies were in Turbo mode.That night, as we camped on the slopes
of Kilimanjaro and made our last fire, the ladies sat
laughing, giggling and having a great time, reminiscing
their left love as if it was a long ago story.
It is amazing to see people transform
so much from pain to happiness. And this taught me that some
things in life require closure for some people.
It taught me
that one must find a way to deal with pain in a way that
will bring happiness.
This is what my ladies did and I was
and I am so proud of having been there for them.
I will never forget my divorcee
Crazy is an understatement.
Back to the Top of the Page
So, sometimes you are asked to help a
new trainee guide get a bit experience and also show them
how and what to do.However, you never expect to get what
I got on one of my shadowing occasions.
I was asked if a new lady guide could
shadow me for a while, for her to get a bit of experience on
Of course, me being who I am, I agreed
to it, and met the lady who was in her late 30s.
talking to her, I could see that there was something wrong
with her. Every 3 to 4 words, she would twitch her body and
her eyes would open really wide. I got a bit off when I
experienced her for the first time, but then I realized that
no matter what, everyone deserves a chance, so, I decided to
put my stupidity aside, and help her with whatever I could
to make her a guide.
She shadowed me for a few days on a
few local trips and although she had a boasting personality,
every time I asked her if she wanted to give a go to
guiding, she declined the offer.
As a matter of fact, when
we got onto a bus with 46 people and I asked her to
introduce herself, she shut down completely and did not know
what to say. I thought at this point, she needs a bit of
time, so I continued with her for a few days.
As days went by, it was quite obvious
to me that this lady was suffering from something more than
just being shy. She smoke like a factory, every time we got
off the busses and she would disappear when she thought I
would ask her to assist me in any way.
I eventually decided to have a talk
with her and I told her the positive things and the negative
things that she was doing so far, so that she could correct
She took it quite well and I thought,
ok, so she is trying.We carried on for about 2 weeks, until
I had to run an overland tour with 48 people on a bus.Of course I asked her to come along as
this would be a great opportunity to get some real road
We got going and all was ok. She even
started interacting with the guests, which made me think
that finally she was loosening up.
One of the things that I was a bit
shocked, was the fact that very often while talking and
twitching, the “F” word would come out of her mouth. Even in
front of the guests, which was very shocking to them. I had
to tell her what a big NONO that was.
We travelled along the garden route
and stopped at the Bungie jumping site to see people jump
from the bridge.
Now, if you read my stories so far,
you would see that here is where I had a big disaster with
one lady who stood on a table to get a better view, and fell
and hit her head, creating a big open gush in the head.
What I did not mention in that story,
is the fact that besides me having deal with the severely
injured lady, I had to deal with my shadowing tour guide,
who went into total out of control mode.
The moment the lady fell and started
bleeding, the shadow guide started shouting and screaming
and swearing at everyone to move away and she started to
scream that she was now in charge.
She grabbed the injured lady and
started to shake her wildly asking her if she was ok and why
had she been so stupid etc.I immediately asked her to move away
as I could see that she was doing everything wrong,
specially by shaking the lady from her shoulders, while she
was bleeding badly.
The more I asked her to move away, the
more she refused to do so and eventually I had to get really
cross with her.
I had to ask other passengers to remove her,
which had to be done by force as she did not want to leave
the injured lady alone.
When they took her away, she started
swearing at me and cursing me, but at that moment, my focus
was on helping the lady who was bleeding and was traumatised
by the experience.
Needless to say that I had to call the
ambulance, a helicopter flew in to take her to hospital and
I had to go with her. She received 15 stitches in her head.
Once the ordeal was finished, I then
met with the rest of the group, including the shadow guide.
She was totally out of control with me and started shouting
and swearing at me for not allowing her to apply her first
Had I let her do so, she would have
probably cause some even more severe injury on the lady, as
she did not know a thing about patient first aid care and
how to remain calm on such situation.
The guests reported that she was
screaming at them the whole trip to the hotel until the bus
driver toll her to sit down and be quiet or he would ask her
to leave the bus.
So, I decided to call the operator who
asked me to take her, and reported her behaviour. I asked
them to remove her from the tour, as she was causing very
bad stress for me and now with the guests.
They then told me to drop her at the
nearest bus terminal, give her money and send her home.
Well ladies and gentleman, this is
easier said than done.Next morning I asked the driver to
take us to the George bus terminal and I asked her to come
with me. We got off the bus and I had already put her
suitcase handy, as I knew this was going to be a major
scene.I then explained to her that her tour
operator wanted her to return home. Gave her money and
opened the luggage compartment to hand her, her suitcase.
All hell broke loose.
screaming at me, swearing and even pushing me and hitting
me. I tried to explain to her the reasons but she went again
totally out of control and started kicking the bus, got onto
the bus and swore at the guest, at how ungrateful they had
been etc. etc. etc.
We had to forcefully get her off the bus
and eventually left while she was still kicking and
The people in the bus gave me a big
clap when we eventually left.
I then apologized to them
about the whole thing and although we ended laughing about
the craziness of it all, I knew that deep in their minds,
they were not ok with it. After all they had paid for a
holiday to enjoy and not for some crazy woman to get on
their bus and act as she did.
I knew there would be repercusions
about this, so I wrote a factual report, which I then passed
around the guests, and asked them to read and tell me if
they agree with what I was reporting. They all did and
signed the report off together with me.
When the tour ended, I then went to
the operator, to find out what was the lady’s problem.
It turned out that she never completed
her guiding course or even her fist aid course, which is
compulsory for all tour guides. Her mother was a very
connected person in politics, and managed to convince
someone to try and get her into a tour guiding position
without the completion of her trainings.
The lady in question had had a very
bad car accident 3 years ago and the result of it was an
injury to her head, which caused her to be slightly mentally
handicap. Her mom, was trying to get her to be independent
from her and this is where the tour guiding came about.
I was shocked at what I heard, and
told the operator that it had been a very irresponsible
thing to have asked me to take someone with that background
She could have cause permanent damage
to the injured lady and she definitely caused some damage to
the touring reputation of our country.
Needless to say that since then, when
I am asked to take a shadow guide with me, I ask first for a
full background, and I meet with them previous to any tour.If I see even a slight problem, I turn
them down, as I do not want a repeat of this ordeal in my
storis to tell.
Our kitchen is running away from us!!
Back to the Top of the Page
Many times, you think back at what
happened and you realize how lucky you are that nothing bad
On one of my many long road safaris
through Namibia, I was sent with 11 guests to travel along
this incredible country.
I was supplied with a 12 sitter Land
Cruiser, which is one of the best vehicles for this kind of
trip.The guests sit comfortably in it and
we pull a special trailer which is your total camping
support solution. This trailer is fitted with a full kitchen
kit, tables, chairs, gas stove and compartment for all the
food needed for the trip. It even has a fridge.On top of it you then put all the
guest’s tents and sleeping matts. So, all in all, it carries
your entire camp.Guest’s luggage is then put on roof
rack on top of the land cruiser.
We got on the road and you know, the
first two days are the most difficult and taxing for a
guide, because you have to teach the guests how to setup the
tents, and mainly how to setup camp. And not everyone is up
So, after 2 days, everyone sort of
gets into the mode and the mood, and from there onwards
everything starts falling into place.
We continued our road safaris,
visiting spectacular places in Namibia, including Fish River
Canyon, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, Walvis bay, Brandberg,
Etosha and then we headed north towards the land of the
On this route, you have to climb a
very steep uphill. And when I say steep, this pass has an
angle of about 30 Degree.
So we started the uphill and the land
cruiser was straggling a bit with the power. I decided to
engage the Hub for 4x4 traction, and this has to be done
manually at the hubs of the wheels. So we stopped, and put
stones behind the wheels, to make sure car was secured on
the uphill.We then got in the car and carried on.
Suddenly, the vehicle was booming up hill and as I looked in
the rear mirror, I saw that the trailer was rolling down the
hill. There goes out kitchen!!, I said out loud. The guests
thought I was joking, but when I stopped and got out the
vehicle, they realized that it was by no means a joke.In the process of starting up again,
it got disengaged from the vehicle and of course the laws of
physics demanded that it must roll down the hill.I watched for about 5 seconds how this
trailer was getting away from us.
Lucky to our fate, it went
against one of the sides of the road which was a wall of
mountain and it stopped against it.
We stopped and walked back to the
trailer, which had rolled down about 200mt in total.
We all had a nervous laugh about it
and I then decided that we would need to take the stuff up
the hill by hand, as it was clear that the vehicle was not
going to be able to pull the trailer without getting
disengaged again.So, on we went with the carrying of
the goods up the hill.
We had to do a number of trips and
eventually after 2hrs, we managed to get it all up.We joked and laughed all the while and
everyone got into the spirit of things. We all felt like we
were better than any land cruiser we could have, so we felt
pretty good about ourselves.
Eventually I had to tie the trailer
with ropes to the car in order for it not to get unhooked
Upon inspection, I discovered that the
piece of metal in the hooking system that keeps the ball of
the tow bar in place, had gone, so the trailer was sitting
on the ball without any way to secure it.
For the next 12 days we carried on
with the trailer like this and we had to check on the
connection every now and then to ensure that it was still
I invited the guests for dinner that
evening just to thank them for the help and the good spirit.
These are the things that can happen
on a tour like this, and it is up to the guide to turn it
into a fun or an experience that the guests can see as
special.You also learn a lot from experience
I learnt that although you are given tools by a
company that is supposed to have checked everything, you
need to recheck it all yourself.
That is how I am now, even
though I am told everything has been checked, I recheck
everything to the annoyance of the people that I work for.It might be annoying, but in the end,
I go with confidence into a tour.
I am not staying here!
Back to the Top of the Page
In life, you come across different
people from different walks of life, and specially as a tour
guide, we get to know some type of people that we don’t even
know they can exist.
We get annoyed at sometimes petty
little things, and sometimes we make a fuss about it, but we
don’t realize how lucky we are for having so little and
being able to enjoy the simplest things in life.
I was asked to be the guide for a very
wealthy family from Argentina. They arrived in their own
private jet and I had to climb on their plane and take them
around the country. Very smart I thought and wondered at how
is it possible for people to have sooo much.
We left Cape Town and landed in George
and we were picked up by limousines and were taken to the
only 6 star hotel in the country: Fancourt.
Upon arrival we were welcomed as
kings, and we were taken to our rooms.Now, let me tell you that these were
not just rooms.
Each ROOM, was a fully furnished house with
kitchen, bathroom, lounge, dining area, etc.
furnished, and decorated with exquisite ornaments and
original Rembrand paintings.
The family consisted of Husband, Wife,
Daughter, son and granny.
Upon arrival to the rooms/house the
first one to get off the courtesy cart was the granny, who
walked into the unit and 10 seconds later came out disgusted
saying “This is disgusting, I am not staying here!”.
Now you must know that as a tour
guide, when you get a guest making a comment like this upon
arrival to an establishment, all sorts of explanations pass
your mind ranging from dirty toilets, to unfinished beds and
even a room not cleaned after the last occupant, so, I run
into the unit checking what had she found wrong.
I looked everywhere and all was
spotless, so I came out and asked her to please tell me what
was wrong so I could fix it. Her reply to me was simply: “I
am not staying here”, so I could see that she was really
annoyed, so I ran into the unit again and decided, it must
be the toilet, I checked it and it was once again spotless.
I was really at a loss here, so I came
out and asked the lady to please be specific as to what had
she found wrong so that I could rectify it.She then told us: “the paintings on
the walls are horrific and I will not stay in a place with
such bad taste”.
At this point, her daughter rolled her
eyes and her son in law also rolled his eyes and said: “here
she goes again”.
While they tried to convince her that
the paintings on the walls were not that bad, I contacted
the hotel manager and explained to him the issue.
He came promptly to see what could be
done for the old lady, and decided that if she does not like
the paintings, then he would remove them all.
We therefore went ahead and took off
all the original Rembrandt oils paintings from the wall, and
left the unit with plain white walls instead.
The daughter then asked her mom to
check and although she did it with apprehension, the old
lady was now more relaxed but still sulking about the
We ordered tea on the stoep to make
her feel better, after which she thanked us for the effort
and we all got on with our lives.
Needless to say that I then went to
reception and thanked the manager who told me exactly what
he thought of this petty lady and her ways. We had a good
laugh about it.
We then carried on for the next 12
days and visited many places in South Africa, all the time
staying at really very expensive hotels and eating in luxury
most of the time.
But at all venues, they found something
not quite ok, or something that they disliked, for which I
had to make special arrangements for them.
On the final day as we were on our way
to drop me off back in Cape Town, I was thinking of what was
I going to say to them to apologyze for all the
“INCONVENIENCES” they encountered during their trip.
was getting off their plane, they thank me eternally for the
trip and told me to my amazement that this had been the BEST
HOLIDAY they had had in their life. My jaw almost dropped when I was told
this, as I immediately though: if this was their best
holiday, what were their worst holidays like.
This made me realize that I was so
lucky to be what I am, and to have whet I have. I am lucky
to be able to appreciate things in life no matter how they
come. And I also realized that there are people in this
world, that although they have everything, they cannot find
Water animals in a sea of sand.
Back to the Top of the Page
My trips have given me lots of
pleasures, of things that I have been able to see,
experience and visit that otherwise I would not have been
able to do without being a Tour guide.
You might not know it, but I am a
wildlife person. I love everything about Nature, animals and
vegetation alike. I respect the natural world and I am
always amazed at what Nature is able to do and provide.
I had heard many times about the
famous Desert Elephants of Namibia, and I always dreamed of
seeing them one day, knowing that this was a dream that was
probably never going to come true, because of the scarsity
of these animals and the almost zero chances of seeing them
along the routes of my trips.
I am a believer that if you are
connected with Nature from your heart and soul as I am,
Nature will always reward you with some amazing moments, and
I have had a few of those which I cherish.
One of those moments came when I was
travelling with a group of people along the skeleton coast
We had already stopped at the Diaz
colony of seals, which was an awesome spectacle, seeing
thousands of these animals grouped in one place. We thought
that nothing could top that.
But as we turned inland towards
the more desertip part of the area, we were travelling
through somehow surreal landscape, with flat grey landscape
on the right and almost red orange dunes of sand on the
The landscape was so hostile, hot and
inhospitable that we thought “Nothing could survive it”. But then we suddenly saw some very
black dots on the red dunes, that were totally out of place.
As a guide, you learn that when something does not look
right anywhere, there is an opportunity for something
special, so I slowed the vehicle down to take a better look
at the black dots.
I carried on slowly and as we got closer,
I realize with much amazement that what we were seeing was
the Desert Elephants that were so contrasted against the
dunes that they stoop completely out of the landscape.
We stopped and got out of the vehicle
and the guest could not believe what we were seeing. 8
elephants walking on the dunes in single file. And to top it
all, they were heading towards were we had stopped.
I instructed them all to lay down and
stay low, so as to not interfere with the animals path and
We watched them walk slowly and every
now and then they would stop and lift their trunks pointing
them in our direction.I know that they were aware of us and
so they were very cautious. They came to a stand about 30
meters from us and I could see that the matriarch decided
this was a bit too close for comfort and she then took a
slight deviation to the left. We saw these incredible
creatures walk peacefully pass us and as they walked, the
only sound we heard was their breathing.
Their foot steps
did not make a sound against the sand, and although they
were heavy animals, to my amazement, their legs would not
sink into the sand.
After what seemed an eternity, we
stood up and saw them leave just as they came, and within 15
minutes they became dots against the dunes again and
vanished into the landscape.
It was such a surreal moment for all
of us, that no one made a sound or comment.
We stood there
simply just absorving the moment of what we had seen.After a while, we all came out of the
spell of the moment and we celebrated it by shaking hands
and hugging each other in happiness.
I can only share this with you in
writing, but nothing compares to the actual moment.
stayed in me and I often stop and thank Nature for allowing
me and my guests to share that unique moment.
My guests also could not thank me
enough for that moment and it became the highlight of the
This is what I, as a tour guide live
for. Beeing able to find sometimes such a moment and share
it with people, who will remember it for the rest of their