Learn about who we are.
 

My Moments / Stories and Memories

These are my stories and experiences during my so many trips.

This is me
My tour guiding start
My moments / Stories, my experiences
My panties or my life
An electrifying experience
To baboon or not to baboon
Listen carefully or pay the consequences
If you dont listen, you will be punished
Time to take a nap
Rhino mound is the only choice
Giving happiness is the most rewarding thing
My first official tour
Tanzania, my first encounter
A safari too close for comfort
Another wildlife experience to cherish
Elephants elephants everywhere, not a sky to see
Calamity can also strike a tour
Too close to my Baby
Beautiful people, Beautiful land
Bias ideas into one's head
Water is the only currency
A special Kitty cat
Leave them all up there
Crazy is an understatement
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 Yogurt
You are early, or going nowhere
I have done something terrible
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 me. 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 mistake; 100km.
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 this:http://www.polepoleman.com

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, piña colada".
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 Tanzania.
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 fantastic lodges.
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 activities.
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 me.

So, I invite you to My Moments / Stories, to Africa.

Marcos Solis-Peralta
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 moment.
Now, the boat had a balcony upstairs that one could go and stand to have a better view.
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 life.
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 did not!!!

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 Drakensberg.
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 summit.
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 and sunshine.
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 beautiful weather.
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 my trips.
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 the sides. 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 baboons. As we got closer to the cave, I realized that the baboons were actually in the cave where we were supposed to spend the night.
There were about 40 of them, with a few quite large individuals. 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 before dark. 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 night.

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 together.
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 through.
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 slow.
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 crazy). 
I called emergency and they dispatched a helicopter immediately.
While we waited, i change the dressing and kept an eye on the patient and the rest of the family who were in total shock.

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 leg.
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 been waiting.
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 one.
I got so many compliments from everyone and the family treated me for the next remaining 3 days to scrumptious meals etc.

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 Town.
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 rational manner. 
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 Botswana. 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 warned him.

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 harness.
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 with crocodiles.
There is a reason why Tour Guides are there, to Guide and advice for every situation, and ignoring their advice can cost.
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 Guide.
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 Route tour.
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 gone.
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 disappeared.
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 to handle.
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 trip.
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 line.
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 my life!

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.

After what 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 waiting ahead.

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 dance. 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 Caves.
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 helped us.
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 come true.
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 their hearts.
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 hour.
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 times.
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 reconnaissance.
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 street.
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 the streets.
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 warning me.
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 there.
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 sit on.
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 him.
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 road.
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 unstuck.
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 safety first.
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 should envy.
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 water.
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 moment.

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 remain calm.
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 aged guests.
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 away.
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 alright.
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 circumstances.
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.
We found 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 mistake!.
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 for it.

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 ways.
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 hair.
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 their camps.
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 starry sky.
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 ex-General!.
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 world’s miseries.
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 person.
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 shoulders.
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 with people.
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 African landscape.
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 it.
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 trick.
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 me.

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 good bye.
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 cleansing.

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 exes.
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 their statements.

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 ladies!! 

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 the road.
Of course, me being who I am, I agreed to it, and met the lady who was in her late 30s.
Upon 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 her mistakes.
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 experience.

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 aid skills.
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.
She started 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 screaming.
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 on tours.
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 has happened.

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 to it.
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 Himbas.

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 again.
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 ok.
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 like these.
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.
Beautifully 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 original setup.
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.

As I 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 happiness.   

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 in Namibia.

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 left.
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 nature.
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.

It has 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 trip.

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 lives. 

Death everywhere, but not a dead one found.   Back to the Top of the Page

Sometimes, a simple situation can be transformed into something completely different just by the nature of it.

While doing a Flower tour with a group of amateur botanists, I was given the task of finding the black orquid which is endemic only to the area where I live.

Before embarking on this tour, of course I did my homework and took it upon myself to get as much information as I could on these plants. I studied many essays and got a more or less good idea of where these flowers could be found.

We started the tour and started travelling to areas where the famous Namaqualand flowers were blooming.
This is a spectacle that one must see it to believe it. You get only for 2 to 3 weeks of the year, a landscape covered with multicolours of flowers of the Namaqualand.
Kilometres upon kilometres of colourful fields and amazing colours that overseas visitors come here to experience.
Now, the Namaqualand flowers are easy to find, as there is an area for them and a town called Darling which is the capital of the flowering season. And they have all sorts of official call hotlines to report on the status of the flowers. All you have to do is call and they will tell you where to go to see them as the season goes on.
But nobody knows anything about the black orquid.
As we carried on with the tour which was now on day 3, I started to get quite worried as I took the people to the areas I had researched, but could not find the ghost flowers.
On the 4th day, I had run out of places to visit and decided to do a final trip more to the north of the areas where the flowers were supposed to be present. Yes, I did make sure that the time of the year we were doing the tour, was correct for the time of the flowering of these flowers.
We went about 120km further north and although we saw some amazing species of succulents and desert vegetation, the orquids in question were nowhere to be found.
Guests were very happy so far with what we had seen, but I could feel the disappointment that they could not see these flowers.
I was getting very despondent as I could not deliver what I set out to find for them.
On our route back, we were travelling on the highway and as we started to travel along a flat piece of landscape, I saw a few very distinct black spots on the ground in front right next to the road.
I decided to stop the vehicle to investigate and as I walked into the landscape, I saw a few of these plants and to mine and my guest’s amazement, they were the famous flowers.
Now as you look into the landscape from one direction, you can almost not see them, but if you walk into it, and look back, then suddenly you see these black flowers staring at you.
Now, I know that when you think of orquids, you immediately think of delicate, large flowers. But this is not the case with these ones. They are tiny, not taller than 10 cm from the ground and they are not pretty at all. They actually look like the flowers of a weed. Very uninteresting and unimportant.But as you study them, you start to get amaze at these little plants. Their flower is pentasymmetrical and are almost black in colour, with a slight yellow tint in the middle.The petals of the flowers are almost flat against the ground.
I learned that the black colour absorbs lots of heat and the reason for the flowers to be so flat against the ground is to cover the rest of the plant and not to allow the moisture of the plant to escape from it. So keeping it humid in areas where there is little water.

So we got off the vehicle with everyone so happy with the find. Because these guests were amateur enthusiast, they were here to study and document these plants. And because the flowers are so low in the ground, they all lay flat on their stomach to take photos, and make drawings.

Now picture this: a vehicle right next to the highway, 16 people lying all over the landscape on their stomachs, not moving.
Cars started suddenly to stop and people were running towards us, as they thought there had been an accident. Much to their amazement to find out that there was no accident and it was just a bunch of people studying plants.
I had to intervene a number of times to explain cars that stopped, that nothing was wrong.I kept on having so much fun that afternoon, watching all these dead bodies spread over the landscape.I also got my moment of satisfaction, knowing that I had been able to deliver what I had promised.
Although I did not know the exact spot where to find them, my systematic search had paid off and my instincts (which I use quite often) guided me to the area.
It is always a big satisfaction to see the smile of my guests being happy and satisfied with the trip.

 Wet Hole of Death          Back to the Top of the Page

I am not a person that can be scared easily. As a matter of fact, I do not recall even in my childhood being scared of something. People always find me cold because of this, as I am not always giving the expected reaction when someone has tried to scare me for some reason.

However, I have been really scared only 2 times in my life. In this story, I will tell you about the second time I was scared.

I was chosen to be the tour guide and leader of an expedition of a group of Russian river rafters that came to Zimbabwe to do all the zambesi rapids.
I was very exited at the prospect of this trip when it was given to me, as I was told that the people coming were the world river rafting champions, so I knew this was not going to be a standard type of adventure.

When I went to receive my group at the airport, I saw 8 couples, strong men with very thin and almost needle like women. I thought to myself, oh, the river rafters came with their wives or partners.
They had a lot of luggage that included their unique rafts, specially designed for them.

We departed on our trip to Zimbabwe the next day and I was amazed at how organized they were with everything. We arrived there and were picked up in a truck, we loaded all the gear and got on our way to the river, where we were met by our river guide.

They had all the food, and everything needed for the 6 day trip ready by the edge of the river.
The guests then started assembling their unique rafts which had to be put together on site. It took quite a while and everyone helped, including the ladies who were in their bikinis hoping to get a good tan while doing so.

The rafts were quite something. They consisted of 2 large inflatable tubes which were held together by an aluminium harness that held them in a mini catamaran fashion. The passengers or paddlers mounted the tubes just like you mount a horse and they tied their knees and legs to the tubes by means of a stripe. Two sat on each tube on each side, so 4 people were on the raft.

Now you have to see these people and what they are able to do with them. To my amazement, the thin good looking ladies, who I thought had just came along for the trip, were actually part of the river rafting crew. And my jaw dropped many times as I saw them performing on the rapids. They were as strong as the men and they were NOT afraid of ANYTHING.

I was allocated a spot on the supplies raft together with the assistants and with the main guide who was a large african man, very confident and someone you don’t mess with. So, after everything was setup , we got going and it was a fantastic feeling. Here I was, in the Zambesi, accompanied by the river rafting champions and starting an adventure that was first in my life.

I had heard of the white waters of the zambesi, but only when you navigate them, you feel the power of nature.
The first 3 days we went through medium to not so medium rapids, and every time I saw my guests go through them expertly. Sometimes their raft would capsize and their bodies were submerged under water for what seemed an eternity, but they always managed to use their oars to tilt themselves up. Remember that they were strapped to the tubes, so if the raft capsized, they were stuck under water.

At the end of the 3rd day, the leader gave us a talk about the next day. Referring at all times about the “death hole”.
He explained that we were going to fall into a water hole and we would need to wait until he instructed, for us to paddle out of it. And when he says paddle, we would need to paddle as if it was the end of the world. This did not make us feel at all at ease. But we listened and joked about it around the campfire. My stomach was already in butterfly mode, after hearing about this “death Hole”.

Next day we picked up camp, and we departed on our next river day. Round about mid day, and after tackling 3 major rapids (which I thought every time it was the famous “death Hole”), the leader then told the 6 of us in the supply raft that “here it comes”.

I need not tell you how this words put us all in adrenaline mode. I looked to the front of the raft looking for a hole and all I could see was water. Suddenly my eyes could not believe were I was going to fall into, as we approached the edge of a huge waterfall.

My heart came to a total stop as I thought: my gosh we are going to die here!. The raft fell about 5 meters into literally what is a Hole in the water. After the fall, the raft was just floating at the bottom of this wet pith. As I looked all around the raft, all I could see was WATER, water streaming up and down the walls at very high speed and a noise that could only be described as the end of the world. We were stuck here, not moving and the guide kept on shouting, WAIT, WAIT , WAIT; while all you wanted to do was to paddle out of here, but you knew that no amount of paddling was going to help.
I was soooooo scared that for a second I really thought, this is it!!. But then my experience with people came to my senses and I realized that the tour leader, although was shouting, he was not in panic mode, but simply in action and waiting mode. He was in control, and I hoped with all my soul that he knew what he was doing, so I waited and waited for his instructions.

After what seemed forever, the raft started to rise up the hole slowly and almost made it to the rim of the hole.
This is when our leader used all his bad language dictionary repertoire to shout to us to paddle and paddle and paddle like men not like sissies, to paddle for your life etc. etc.
And let me tell you, we paddled for our lives like I have never paddled before. While doing so, I kept looking at the edge of the raft and the edge of the rim of the hole, and slowly, the raft was starting to move forward, out of this insane place.
We eventually came out of it, and I have never screamed so loud in my life, realizing that we had made it alive. It is a feeling that you can describe but you have to live it to understand it.

So, what was all this about?. To understand it, you need to know a little bit of physics but put in simple language; the reason why the zambesi is called white river rafting, is because the river is very deep, and although the water is turbulent, the rock that cause this turbulence are very deep under water. So deep that if you fall in the water, you will be flushed away but you will not hit the rocks at the bottom. All you do is let the water carry you with your life vest which keeps you afloat and the rescue kayak will come get you after the rapid. The spot where the hole of water is, has a large circle of rocks at the bottom, which creates this water hole as the water passes over the rocks at very high speed.

The water is not always constant and the flow changes every so often, changing the profile of the bottom of the hole which raises every now and then. The river guides know this and that is why you wait at the bottom, for the change in that profile to get out past the hole to the other side.

Now, your mind does not care about theory and physical facts and about logical explanations. Your mind just sees DANGER of the highest nature when you approach this place and all your senses tell you get out of there. Your body goes into mental shock before you even fall in the hole, so, no amount of preparation makes it any easier. You shake the whole time you are under in the hole, and all you can think is that you are going to die.

Even after you successfully get out of there, your body then tells you: Hey man, that was not cool!!! This, I must say has been one of my scariest moments.

I take my hat at the guys who tackle this on a regular basis. And I respect their actions, guidance and total knowledge and control of such situation. Bearing in mind that everybody’s life are on their hands, and they had never had a single incident where they lost anyone’s lives due to negligence or bad judgement.

 

I’m first. Are you kidding me?     Back to the Top of the Page

In my journeys, I sometimes get surprises that are totally unexpected and leave you with your mouth open.

I deal with a lot of Indian groups during our winter, which is their summer. So, South Africa has become a very popular destination for them, Specially the adventure type Indians. They come here in large groups, and even come with a chef to cook their meals.
The type of indus that come, are generally families, that include from the baby to the granny, and they just love any type of adrenaline adventure and sport.
I also do the more private Indian groups, and in one of my trips I got to take around the garden route, an Indian family which included husband, wife, son, daughter, niece and granny. They were really very nice people, and most importantly, very bonded as a family. I enjoyed so much seeing how the grandchildren looked after their granny with so much love and care. They always made sure that if there was a step or even an uneven path, they would hold granny by the arms making sure she would not trip or fall.
The granny was 85 years old, but so full of life. We started our trip and along the route, I was asked to organize some adventure activity such as quad biking, zip line, sky dive etc.
So I arranged for all these activities for the family, excluding the granny, who I thought, no, she is not going to do them. Big mistake!.
As we arrived at the first activity which was zip line, everyone was given a harness, and when the granny did not get hers, she asked me what was going on?.
So I explained to her that this activity is very intense and that I was not sure it was a good idea for her to be hanging from a steel cable while zipping through the air on it.
She told me it was total nonsense and she was doing it!. So I complied and arranged for her to get her harness.
I was very apprehensive at first, but then I thought, if she wants to do it, why not. When they started with the zip lines, the first one to go was her, and she loved it. Not only was she strong enough to hold on properly but she even managed to wave while she passed on the zip line.
After this first activity completed, I then realized, that the granny was part of the adventure package, so we continued to the quad bikes, which she tackled almost like a pro.

The last activity along our 4 day route was sky diving, and here I thought, she will draw the line.
Another Big Mistake, the first one to get kitted was her, and even the instructor asked me if she was going to be ok.
I told him that she will not take no for an answer as I knew if they refuse her she would put up a fight.
So, she was ready and when asked who wants to go first, her hand was up before everyone else.

Now, let me tell you that this is no joke. They fly up to 4000mt and do a tandem free fall for about 30 seconds before opening the parachute. Then they glide all the way down until they do a hard land on sand.

The granny jumped and we heard her laughing as she came down for the landing. The instructor told me that she even asked to do pirouettes in the air while they were free falling.
This lady, made all the other sky divers look like sissies. The main thing was that she was the adventure spirit behind the entire family, and this made the family a very special one.
I loved seeing this old lady enjoy herself as if she was a teenager. I guest age is only a number!!!

Not without my yogurt!   Back to the Top of the Page

Sometimes you get to deal with unreasonable people. And no matter what you do, you can not change their ways. For a tour guide this is a real challenge.

When you do a long trip with a group of people, you get to see the real them, and you get to deal with their mood changes and also become stuck with their dynamics, which can become quite complicated.

I started a 22 day road safari from Cape Town to Victoria falls. This trip takes you through amazing Namibia; from south to north and then east across the Caprivi strip.
I had 16 people with me and the whole trip was in camping style. Some people get into these adventures knowing exactly what it would be like, but other have had this dream about camping, but have never done before.
The first 2 days is quite a challenge for you as a guide, as you have to teach and assist them on how to setup their tents and how behave while at the campsites. Well, on this particular trip, I had a mix of people that ranged from the joung to the elder and from the very fit to the not fit at all.

As we started the journey, and up to the 3rd day, I noticed that one of my guests; an old lady was not having any breakfasts in the morning and she had become very abrupt and moody.
I approached her to find out if she was ok (because people sometimes get sick but will not mention it). When I asked her if anything was wrong, her reply was “there is no yogurt”. I could not really understand her answer so I asked her to explain what she meant, and she replied “there is no yogurt, this is unacceptable, I only eat yogurt in the morning”.
I then asked her if she had filled in the special dietary requirements on the form prior to her tour, to which she replied, I don’t care about forms, “I only eat yogurt for breakfast”.

Now this is an easy thing to deal with if you are in a city where there are shops for you to quickly run and buy the needed yogurt, but we were on the road, in the middle of the Namib dessert. Not a shop to be found.
So , although it was not my fault, I apologized to the lady for the lack of her desired food. Her attitude did not change.
And not only did she make sure I knew she was upset, she kept on telling me how unprofessional this was, that no one bothered to have yogurt for her.

After another 2 days, we reached the town of Swakopmund, on the coast of Namibia. Here I went to pick up provisions and I made sure I bought enough yogurt for Africa (although I did not have to).
So, for the next 3 days that we stayed in this town, the lady was ecstatic because I had her desired yogurt for her breakfasts. It was time to leave again and I, again made sure I bought enough yogurt to last me the next leg.
The rest of the group by now found it very funny that this woman was demanding yogurt on a camping trip through the desert, but every one took it with humour and we got on with the trip.

Unfortunately on the second day, due to the heat of the trip, the small fridge we carry on the vehicle, was not strong enough to hold the yogurt fresh, and 2 litres of it went off and became uneatable.
When I told the lady in the morning, all hell broke loose, and I was told how incompetent I was, and how disappointing this trip had become because it did not cater for her desired yogurt.
She screamed at me for at least 5 minutes during the breakfast session until two of the other guests approached her and told her very strongly to please “shut Up” and take it easy.
They told her: “lady, if you had a special dietary requirement, you should have said so before the trip. You are making Marco’s life impossible and now you are making Our trip impossible too”.
They commanded her to sit and eat what there was. This was a very intense moment which I tried to dissipate by explaining that normally the fridge is able to hold things fresh but due to the excessive heat we had the last two days, it was not strong enough. Everyone understood perfectly what had happened and told me not to worry any more about this.

For the next 3 days, they implemented the ice law on the lady, and she was isolated from all their doings and conversations. I felt really bad and also had to cater for the rest of the group and then try to integrate her by trying to talk to her also.
I was pulled by two sides that did not want to interact with each other. You as a tour guide can not take sides, and although the lady was in the wrong, she was still my guest, so I tried by all means to make her still feel part of the group.

On the 3rd night after the incident and still with no one but me speaking to her, she stood during dinner and apologized to the group for her behaviour and apologized to me also for her demands.
We all forgave her and lots of hugs and handshakes were given, which turned the trip around. We carried on like a happy family until the end of the trip, and her yogurt story became a joke among all of us, Including her. I in turn made sure that every time we got to a city she got her share of yogurt.
She became the “yogurt queen of the desert” among us.

Now, let me tell you that experience teaches you many things and one thing I have learnt is that when an issue as petty as this arise, you need to cover yourself.
I wrote a factual report on what had happened and asked everyone in the group including her to read it and tell me if it was accurate. I explained that this was important in order for this not to happen again to any visiting guest.
Everyone read it and signed it, including her, who was very happy with the whole thing.

3 months later after the trip, I was called for an enquiry, and it just so happened that a formal complaint had been launched against me for my lack of understanding and for mistreating her during the trip.

Lucky for me, I had the written report signed by everyone including her, and this showed the panel that I had acted in a professional manner and at no time did I do the things she accused me of doing. So the case was dropped and that was it.

My only regret is that I really hoped that the lady had enjoyed her trip and that she had used the opportunity to admire the wonders of Namibia, but she kept her anger about the issue inside her and this somehow made take away the wrong memories of the trip.
I just hope that my “yogurt queen of the desert” lady one day can sit and remember all the wonderful things she did with us even though the yogurt was not there.

You are early or going Nowhere!    Back to the Top of the Page

Many times your experience counts even if it means doing things in a really ridiculous way.

On one of my many adventures, I was travelling with the River Rafting World Champions (see Death water hole).
After our adventure in the rapids of the Zambezi river in Zimbabwe, it was time to depart on our flight back to Johannesburg.

I know the Victoria Falls airport very well and the way things work there. Very very slow is an understatement, and also no one there cares about your problems. So, you have to cater for this type of modus operandi and make sure.

Our flight was at 13:00 but I decided to get there really early, seeing that we were carrying all the heavy equipment (the rafts). I explained to my Russian gests that it was important to get to the airport much earlier, or we would risk not getting seats on the flight. Luckily they agreed and they accepted the fact that they would have to wait at the airport quite a while, so we left at 7:30 and we arrived at 8am. To everyone’s surprise, the airport was closed. Closed?, yes closed.
We waited outside until about 9:15 which is when the personnel started arriving and then the airport was opened.
Apparently the earliest flight coming in tat morning was at about 11, so they did not see any reason to have people at the airport in the early morning.
In any case, we had a good giggle about this fact and we proceeded to the check in counter.
We were the first ones to check in. All 18 of us got our seats, and we were all set. Now it was just a matter of Waiting.
The airport is really tiny, so there is really not much to see. We sat on the chairs which were very uncomfortable and everyone did their own thing.

At about 12:00 people started arriving to check in for our and another flight that morning. we saw the queues getting busy and we all got the satisfaction that we were ready, and that we had come in early.

A Group of 15 people then arrived and got on the queue. We watched them reach their turn to do the check in as a group and as their Tour Leader presented their passport, I saw the lady go “whoa, you are very late”.
She checked her computer for a while, called another colleague and between both of them checked their system and got to the same conclusion: there were no more seats available on that flight!.

Now, let me explain how things work over there. Flights are oversold sometimes by up to 30%, so if you don’t arrive early, there are chances that you will not get a seat and you will be put on the next available flight to the same destination.
I Know, I know, this is ridiculous, but this is Africa, and this is the way it is done over there, and only a guide with experience will know this.

I need not tell you the amount of arms up in the air, the amount of shouting and screaming that went on for quite a while, the amount of officials that were called to the desk by the passengers. But all this to no avail. There were NO MORE seats left in the flight and the only thing they could do was to put them on the next flight, which was that evening at 8PM.
Some of these people had connecting flight which they would miss, so the pandemonium was amazing.

My guests were quite amazed at what was going on and after I explained to them what was the issue, they all thanked me for the early arrival, as we saw that had we not arrived early as we did, we could have been the group standing screaming and shouting at the ridiculous of the situation.
We saved the day by getting there early.

I have done something terrible.    Back to the Top of the Page

It is always nice to get to fly around the country and see the different places. But sometimes flying for the wrong reason is not a very nice thing.

Once I was travelling with a large group of guests around the country, after which we were flying to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

I always ask guests just before departure from hotels two questions: Have you settled your bills? And Have you taken everything out of any safe you might have put, Money, documents, passports?. This I do Always, because I know what can happen if you leave it behind, specially if you are travelling. It is part of my routine in order to avoid delays or even unexpected returns.

Well on this occasion, my guests (who were from different parts of Europe) were quite use to my instructions upon arrival and departure fro hotels. I even have a way of handling the luggage, so as to make sure that no one is missing their luggage upon arriving at hotels or even upon boarding a plane.

After 10 days of road trips from city to city and visiting some very spectacular places, we arrived in Cape Town and we dedicated the next 3 days to doing local Tours. People got very relaxed and enjoyed themselves very much with what the city has to offer.

On the 4th day it was time to leave the hotel and take a flight for our next leg on the tour. We Loaded all the luggage on the bus, and all was set to depart.
Just before leaving of course, I did my usual routine and asked the questions : Have you settled your bills? And Have you taken everything out of any safe you might have put, Money, documents, passports?. The reply was about 90% yes, a few people had forgotten to hand in their room cards, which I collected and before going to return them I repeated the questions, specially pertaining the money and documents, as I knew we were going to fly to another city and then another country. No One then reacted and I then went to return the forgotten cards.
Got on the bus and we left very happy for Johannesburg.

We did a group check in, in which case we normally present peoples passport copies that the tour leader generally carries (which as you will see is not a very good system). We all got our seats and went through security check and waited for our flight. Lots of laughter and talks about the nice time we have had so far. The flight was uneventful.

We landed and were picked up by our bus driver and taken to the hotel where we were staying just one night. There had not been any connecting flights that day so we were forced to do a stay over for the night. We arrived at the hotel and after handing the keys to the people, I was ready to go to my room when one of my ladies (very shy and timid one) came to me almost in tears.
I asked her what was the matter and she then told me she had done something terrible. I thought she had broken something in the room or something like that. But it so happens that she had left her passport in the safe of her room in Cape Town. I asked her if she did not hear me asking specifically this question in the bus TWICE before departing from the hotel in Cape Town, and she told me that she heard it but never clicked in her mind.

So, what to do. Need the passport urgent. I called the tour operator, who immediately sent someone to the hotel and managed to get the Passport from the safe. The operator then went to the airport and tried to send the document with one of the airlines, but not one wanted to accept responsibility for it.
The lady had to have her passport the next day at 8am as we were departing for Zimbabwe. So, without further hassling, I then had to take a flight to Cape Town at 7:30PM, arrived at the airport at 9:12PM, collected the passport from my waiting operator representative and took another flight back to Johannesburg at 9:45 arriving back there at 11.20. Phew!!!.
I think I should be given the Guinea book of records for the shortest visit to a city ever!!.
I returned to hotel quite exhausted and handed the lady her passport to which she thank me eternally for it.

Of course she had to pay for my flight and she even gave me some extra Tip for the trouble at the end of the trip.
We departed next morning for Zimbabwe and everyone clapped when they were told by the lady via the microphone what had happened and what I had done to fix it. So I was the hero of the saga. We continued our tour of Southern Africa without further glitches, but at all times when there was time to leave hotel, I implemented the rule that everyone must show their passports to me in the before departure. This became a laughing matter from then on.

Now, remember that I told you it was a bad idea for the airlines to accept a copy of the passenger’s passport when travelling in a group on a domestic flight?. This is the reason why.

Going blind, going blind!   Back to the Top of the Page

On my many trips I have never felt so incredibly stupid as this one.

This was actually my first attempt to climb Kilimanjaro. It was a dream of mine that I had ever since I was told we were emigrating to Africa when I was 12 years old.

My life changed completely coming to this continent. And we went through many stages in our lives, including the very good stage, when I had my own IT business which was doing very well for about 12 years. After this time, I though to make one of my dreams come true, and I decided to go and climb Kilimanjaro.
I booked a ticket to Dar Es salaam and I left.
On arrival, I walked out of the airport with 38 degrees and decided to get something to eat. I got a pie and cool drink and sat on the side of the road, to the amazement of the people around me, I was the only white person in the area, and was acting like one of them. This made a few guys come to sit next to me, and a friendly man asked me what was I doing there?. I told him, I came to climb Kilimanjaro.
With a big smile he told me: that is very nice, but you know you are in the wrong city don’t you?.

To be honest with you, I never did any research about the climb. I put in my mind that I wanted to climb Kilimanjaro, and all I knew was that it was in Tanzania, and therefore I got the first flight to Dar es salaam. That was it. The total plan. I decided I wanted to do it totally free, no bookings, no preparations etc. So, I discovered that afternoon that I now needed to take a flight to Kilimanjaro airport, which I did later that day, thanks to the information given by the good man on the road.
This sounds silly, but I wanted to improvise the trip. Nothing pre planed, no schedule to keep up with.

I arrived at Kilimanjaro and then took a cab to Arusha to look for a hotel. While wandering through the busy streets, under the scorching sun, I met another very nice character who also asked me what was I doing there. So, I told him I was there to climb Kilimanjaro.
Coincidence has it that he was a freelance guide that knows the routes to the climb. I was very happy to hear that and I asked him if he could then guide me up, to which he agreed.

The deal was that I did not want to go up in a group, with porters and the whole paraphernalia that the companies organize for the climbers. I wanted to carry my own stuff, setup my own camps and cook my own meals, so I wanted to be just me and the guide.
So, the next day, we bought provisions, I had already a 3 man tent and sleeping bag and my guide (who had never carried his own stuff up the mountain was very keen on the opportunity.

We started our 6 day climb (you can do it in 5 or 6 days, depending on your level of fitness) and I enjoyed the scenery and the mountain. I am a keen climber and camper , so for me this was perfect.
My guide was not in his best zone, as I could see he struggled with his rough sac every day. As a matter of fact on the 4th day he was so exhausted that I took his rough sack, tied it on top of mine and carried on to the next base like this. Of course, he was very ashamed of himself, as his guest was carrying the load for him, but I reassured him that it was not an issue. We were a team and this is what team mates do.

We started the summit climb, on the evening of the 4th day , starting at 11pm. This is done so that you reach the summit by about 7am which is when you see the spectacular sunrise over Africa.
The night was cold, very cold. And I was amazed at how many people were attempting the summit that evening. Right through the night, you could see a line of lights all the way ahead and behind, as you climb in single file through the contour path leading to the summit.
Right through the night, I took it easy, as I knew we were entering high altitude and I was very well aware of the altitude sickness issues. I took one step at a time, and as we went up and up, I felt my chest getting tighter and my breaths deeper. Legs were aching with each step, but we climbed on.
Eventually at about 5:30in the morning, it started to get light and I could then start to see the majestic landscape around us. We stopped every now and then to appreciate it all, and each time it got harder and harder to carry on. My vision became slightly blurred, which I though, ok altitude is setting in , so I must exercise
caution.
As time went by, all was ok with my body but my vision got slowly at first more blurred. So, I took longer rests to counteract the altitude effects. As the day got started, and the light came out, my vision got really bad, and I started to get a bit scared, because I was not feeling any symptoms other than a blurry vision. I tried carry on but could not see where I was going, so I told the guide that I needed to sit for a while to catch my breath.

I was really scared because I really could not see. Everything was blurred and all I could see were shadows of things moving in front of me. I found this really strange as I grew up in the Andes Mountains in Chile, walking up really high mountains. I never had any problems at all.
I decided I had to let my guide know what was happening and he told me to rest. I sat on a rock and rubbed my eyes in dismay. As I took my hands off my eyes, suddenly everything was perfect. No more blurred vision and I could see clearly. I looked at my hands and realized how stupid I had been about the whole thing.
I was wearing a balaclava over my face which only allowed my eyes to be exposed. So as I took breaths, the steam came up the balaclava and left via my eye opening. Now, I must tell you that I have very long Eyelashes, and the steam got to them but because of the extreme cold outside, it condensed on my eyelashes and it became icicles hanging from them, therefore forming a curtain in front on my eyes which did not allow me to see.
When I showed my guide and told him what was happening, we laughed out so loud that people though we were loosing it because of the altitude.
I felt so stupid, but relieved that nothing was really wrong and that I was going to be able to get to the top without problems, which we did 2 hours later.

We reached UHURU peak, which is the tallest place in Africa reaching 5890 mt. The view from the top of Kilimanjaro is amazing, and the feeling you get to enjoy a view of Africa 360 degrees around is indescribable.
After our photo session and enjoying the summit for about 30 minutes, we started our descent which was very fast, back to base camp.

So we did the climb in 5 days and I felt on top of the world with my achievement but also totally stupid with my so called blindness which until today, my friend guide mentions every time we write to each other.

You are not invited!   Back to the Top of the Page

Seeing nature at its best is what I love the most. No matter what it is, from a small beetle to a large animal, from an ant carrying a leaf to a large animal kill, they all give me a sense of magical purpose that I respect and try to understand.

On my trips, very often I have to undergo walking safaris through the bushes. This is very exciting thing to do, but at the same time a big responsibility and it can be dangerous at times. So, as a guide, here is where you have to use all your instincts, knowledge and experience.

We undertook a safari in the Kruger National park with 12 guests. After instructing them on the things to do and not to do, we started out trek through the landscape hoping to have some sort of encounter with wildlife.
The format of the walk is normally one rifle up front, one rifle at the rear and the guide in the middle. Riffles are there only to look and check at all times, they do not interact with the guests at all. Only the guide is the one that talks an gives instructions. It is very important that the guests follow every instruction for the safety of the group.

After walking for about 1 hour, and seeing a few antelopes and some giraffe a distance from us, we got into an area of dense vegetation, which I instructed the riffles to keep a look out for.
As we were to come out of the bushes I signalled everyone to stop, kneel down and rifles at the ready. I heard a distinct chewing and cracking of bone very close by. We crawled slowly out of the bush and to our amazement there were 6 spotted hyenas, eating a baby elephant carcass. We were in the upwind side of the kill, so the hyenas could not smell us but we could, and the sweet smell of blood was all around us.

They were breaking pieces of bone as if they were made of flesh. We could see the power on their jaws and also why they have the reputation of having the strongest bite in the animal kingdom.
The hyenas saw eventually our presence but they stood their ground by their food. They all made like a wall between them and the carcass and started showing us their teeth and making very loud shrieking noises.
It was clear that they wanted us out of there, and although they did not charge, we got the message loud and clear and after a few photos and intense minutes of observing them, we decided it was time to carry on and not push our luck any further. We walked carefully away from the site, and we could already see other scavengers in the area.
Jackals, Vultures etc, and if there are those, then there is a good chance that the big cats might be close too. So it was very important to get away from the site as fast as possible.

Standing there, looking at the blood and at how the hyenas were covered from head to tow in blood, and how they tore and the flesh and broke bones so efficiently was an incredible scene. My guests were so happy to have had the opportunity to see it and experience it live.
After we walked a few minutes, we decided it was far enough and we stood on top of a slight hill, watching the landscape and at how lucky we had been.

Nature allows you to enjoy such events but only if you do it with respect and without going over the boundaries. It is up to the tour guide to know when and how to do it.

I am lucky that I can read nature in many ways, and although I do not profess to know it all, my experience and what I have learnt from other field guides has always helped me make informed decisions about these kinds of sightings.

No seat belt, no go.     Back to the Top of the Page

In Africa, you have to be patience and sometimes we have to endure the most of people’s stupidity and corruption.

I was doing a solos transfer to go and meet my guests in Windhoek Namibia. I was driving the Land cruiser and got to the border with Namibia at about 6pm. I went through the South African border post without any issues. Then I proceeded to cross the bridge over the orange rive to reach the border post on the Namibian side.
Now, the drive across the bridge is only a 200mt long and then you get to the Namibian border. I got on the vehicle and just drove across as I usually do. Upon arrival at the Namibian Border, an official stopped me and told me that “there was a big problem here”. I asked him what was the problem and he pointed towards my seat belt, which I had not put it on after leaving the South African side. I explained to him that all I did was cross the bridge, but he told me that it was a big problem and that he would need to write me a ticket. I then realized that arguing with him was going to be futile, so I apologized and told him to write me the ticket.
He took his time in doing so and then handed me the paper, saying that this was going to be a big problem now. When I asked him what was the problem now, he told me that he could not let me pass unless I paid the fine immediately. I said to him that it was not an issue, he must just tell me where I must pay it and would do so.

My question came as a shock to him as I don’t think he expected me to ask where I must pay it, He probably expected me to offer him a bribe. He then showed me a path where I should go and I will find there the officers where I can pay the fine.

I knew that he was making my life difficult just to see if I could offer him something, but I played along with his game and went to the place he showed me, which was still within the border post of the Namibian side. I drove to the place just to find everything closed and no one in side. By this time it was already 9:30.
I went back to the man and he then told me that the problem was still very big. I then asked him if there is any other office where I could pay the fine and he then told me that he was the only official on duty.
I then asked him if he was the only official on duty, why did he send me to a useless place and asked him why was he wasting my time like that. I asked him if I could not pay him the fine as he was the officer on duty, to which he say it was ok. So, I asked him for a receipt of proof of payment before giving him the money, to which he replied he had nothing to give me a receipt.
I told him it is impossible for an official to be receiving money without giving a proof of payment so I told him that I was sure we could get a receipt book from the office and I decided that I had enough of this man and went into the office of the border to ask for an official I could talk to.

The border officer followed me very scared. A captain came out and I was asked what was the problem, I did not reported the officer at the border but I asked him if he had a receipt book available as the officer had given me a fine and had told me that I needed to pay it immediately to him, but when I asked him for a receipt, he did not have a book.

The captain immediately picked up what was going on here and after speaking to the officer very sternly in their language, he told me that the officer had made a mistake. I could pay the fine at any police station in Namibia while traveling.
I did not need to pay anything to the officer. I was then allowed to proceed to border control and after getting my passport stamped, I then managed to carry on with my journey.

I must confess that I walked out of there tired, frustrated but with a smile on my face as I managed in a very elegant manner to accuse the officer of corruption, without actually accusing him directly. It gave me a pleasure to expose these individuals that try their luck with the visiting tourists, who come into their country and bring income to them.

Moral of the story: Wear your seat belt, specially when crossing a border.

 

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