The Rugged Profile of a Safari Guide
by Gregory Hudson
What is your ideal image
of a guide? Do safari guides need more than just a dark tan, a khaki shirt
and a hat like Crocodile Dundee? Could there be more to being a guide than
telling gripping fireside tales and downing hearty swigs of Jack Daniels?
There is, and you can bet
your life on it. Serious safaris demand guides with a bold character and
the following rugged profile:
Firstly, where has he
lived his life?
Has he actually had first
hand experience on the ground in Africa? Was his grandfather a warden?
The best guide I ever had was a third generation professional guide operating
throughout Botswana. He was born in Tanzania and, together with his grandfather
- who was a warden - they migrated to the Kalahari Desert and started their
own safari operation. This is how he lived his life; he grew up in the
is his area of expertise?
A knowledgeable guide should
possess a wealth of knowledge including the cultures and traditions of
the area. Can your guide take you to very remote villages that are rarely
visited by travellers?
To ensure your guide has
knowledge on a broad range of diverse subjects, it pays to ask specific
questions about his or her credentials. Questions like:
How would you track the elusive
desert lion of the Kalahari?
How much do you know about
Can you ride a donkey, operate
a boat, fly microlight aircraft, transport tag and track lions and conduct
tours via bicycle, canoe and 4X4?
Your guide must have “ The
A first-class guide, when
on a walking safari, goes out in front of the group in search of big game.
The guide must have a combination of well honed instincts that include
cunning, stealth, and a good sense of smell, coupled with pinpoint-accurate
eyesight. Not to mention being quiet and unassuming.
His instincts should be as
close to an animal's as a human can get, while at the same time being very
A relaxed nature
More specifically, can he
or she relax in nature? A nervous guide cannot focus on the task at hand.
Your guide should have a friendly, relaxed demeanor and enjoy taking guests
walking in the bush.
Also, an excellent relationship
with a local Bushmen tribe and the ability to act as an interpreter are
all signs that your guide is regarded as being charming and cordial.
Lastly, is your guide
a real leader?
A safari guide should be
a born leader with a tour leader qualification, combining experience in
leading expeditions with a wealth of knowledge and excellent organisational
These are the prerequisites
for leading varied itineraries in Southern Africa and surrounding countries.
Make sure your guides fits the rugged profile.