Africa is the mother continent. She guards her secrets closely. I see my role as a safari guide, not just to choreograph your precious vacation time but to open your eyes to the infinite complexity of our planet, our heritage, and our responsibility.
What are you passionate about?
In a word, History.
I love learning about where we have come from and how we got here. l find it fascinating, for example, to explore ancient pyramids in Merowe in the Sudan and to discover that Nubian Pharaohs ruled Egypt for nearly a thousand years, or to walk in the Cradle of Mankind outside Johannesburg and see the fossil evidence of four hominid species that lived in the same place at the same time.
I love getting my guests excited about the history and anthropology of Africa; teaching them through informal lectures and showing them rock art that outlines our evolution as a species. How and why we have the physical attributes we have. How we migrated across Africa and the planet, and the lessons we can learn.
How did you start out in guiding?
As soon as I left school I started working for my father in the safari business in Kenya. It was trial by fire. I was driving the legendary “Turkana Bus”, billed as the toughest bus ride in the world, it was also one of the most popular adventure safaris in Kenya for two decades. We would drive through the northern deserts of Kenya in ex-army 4×4 trucks all the way to Lake Turkana on the Ethiopian border and back to Nairobi in a week. A round trip of 1000 miles on some of the most hostile roads in Africa. I have very fond memories of that time in my life.
What’s your favorite place in Africa and why?
Africa is so diverse, it is a very difficult question to answer. The Okavango Delta in Botswana would have to be top. I feel fortunate to be able to leave the hustle of the 21st century with just a short drive or boat ride from my house, and witness nature living out its daily routines in an area that is as close to unspoiled by man as it is possible to get.
Have you ever been really scared on safari?
A few times. It usually involves deliberately putting myself between guests and something with claws, tusks or teeth to defuse a dangerous situation. The preferable habit when being charged by an elephant matriarch is to use the adrenaline to stand your ground. Even though on one memorable occasion, my gun had jammed, I was sufficiently vocal to be able to stop her. If you spend enough days on safari, something will come along to jolt you out of your sense of complacency. It’s like flying my Cessna across Africa; 99% immense pleasure, 1% sheer terror.
What three books do you recommend your guests read before going on safari?
I try to infuse a sense of the enormous history of Africa to guests on my safaris. My recommendations are therefore histories or biographies:
What are the three most important pieces of kit for guests to bring along?
A sense of humor, the patience to observe nature in real time, and willingness to accept Africa without bias.
What is your motto in life and what concepts are sacred?
Everything in moderation… including moderation. Darwinian evolution.
Which rules have you made, which ones do you follow and which rules do you break?
Royal Air Force WW 2 ace Douglas Bader said: “Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools”.
I do, however, follow the rules of the air very closely when I fly. All others are negotiable!
What's your most embarrassing or comical moments ever on safari?
Losing a camp in the Maasai Mara then getting badly stuck while looking for it on my second safari ever. You will have to wait for the book or come on safari with me to hear the expanded version.
My work with rhinosMore