“The cure for anything is saltwater. Sweat, tears, or the sea.” – Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)
How did you start out in guiding?
I started out guiding in the days of apprenticeships in the mid-1980s learning my trade with the African crews that setup up all camps, driving the trucks, and getting it all ready before the guests arrive. It was wonderful days of freedom, Tsavo river walks, Mt Kenya climbs, doing camel safaris on the Galana, I was so lucky to have this experience and learned so much, taught by the best teachers who were the camp staff of trackers, cooks, and the mechanics, all real characters of safari life and our paths still cross thirty plus years down the road.
What’s your favorite place in Africa and why?
I find this question so hard to answer and I have been asked it many times before. I feel that there are ten or so amazing mind-blowing safaris that one can put together on this continent, from the Masai Mara and Serengeti ecosystems to the Mahale mountains to the Zambezi River, the Okavango Delta to the Skeleton Coast in Namibia, each experience totally different and you can’t really compare them. I love them all and they are all favourites each and every one.
Have you ever been really scared on safari?
Yes lots of times, I’ve been tossed twice by buffalo and been woken up by three lions sniffing through my mosquito net in the Selous are two of the most memorable.
What three books do you recommend your guests read before going on safari?
First edition End of The Game by Peter Beard, family bias but definitely one of my grandfather’s books (J A Hunter) probably African Bush Adventures which he co-wrote with Dan Mannix and The Tree Where Man Was Born by Peter Matthiessen who I think was one of the best American writers of natural history. The Snow Leopard is such a classic.
What are the three most important pieces of kit for guests to bring along?
Good pair of binoculars – don’t skim on these get Leica, Zeiss or Swarovski – they will last you a lifetime and you won’t regret it, 8 x 32 or thereabouts an ideal size, a sense of humour and adventure and we are good to go.
What is your motto in life and what concepts are sacred?
Which rules have you made, which ones do you follow and which rules do you break?
I’m not a really a rule follower, broken most of them to be honest…
What's your most embarrassing or comical moments ever on safari?
My very first safari as a young eighteen year old was a three week affair, with a bunch twenty Australians. Mid way through the safari, the father of the professional guide leading the trip sadly passed away and so, I was asked to run the trip till another a professional guide could be found. So far so good. On our way to Amboseli we stopped for a picnic, and doing a quick head count it was suddenly realized with a sinking feeling of embarrassment that I had ‘ forgotten ‘ two of my guests. So I bundled them all into two cars, raced back to Nairobi, collected my equally embarrassed guests and blushing all the way drove them to camp. Not an auspicious start, but in hind sight an easy mistake to make and all is well that ends well.
Alex and his team
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