The Journal

How To Make A Safari Experience Successful

A successful safari experience starts with a guide’s ability to identify and manage the different needs and wants of guests. This is according to photographic safari guide and owner of Track & Trail River Camp, Peter Geraerdts, who notes that a good guide is essential to the process…

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Your Guide is Key To A Successful Safari Experience 

A good guide is essential for a great safari experience, first, he or she will be able ‘to read the bush’ and secondly, your guide must be able to ‘read the guest’ as well. In the end, it all comes down to knowledge and experience.  The more experience the better the ‘reading’. This however comes hand in hand with the genuine ambition of your guide. You can see being a safari guide as a job, but you can also see guiding as a calling. Everybody needs to make a living and so do guides in the safari industry…but it’s not just about the money.

Guides should relate to what they are doing and show the passion they have for their guests. There are guides who would rather guide people from certain countries, for reasons known only to themselves. For others, they are rather enthusiastic about the big “tippers”.  Luckily, tipping in most countries is considered as gratitude to someone for having provided good or even excellent service.

Sometimes I’m a guest myself at a safari lodge and I have to be driven and guided by others. I must say, there are times when the response to a question, let’s say about a specific breed of animal sounds as though it came straight from a living Encyclopedia. It is as if the guide has his textbook somewhere between the steering wheel and his chest! Guides have the power to make the difference between a mediocre trip and that of a lifetime!

Travel + Pleasure & Leisure = An experience

Proper Guiding is the key to success. It’s about informing people what they can and cannot expect. It’s humour. It’s safety. It’s entertainment and excitement, led by a guide with an eye for details. Good safaris are sustainable and unobtrusive, they interact gently and empathetically with the places, animals, and people that they encounter.

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A safari should not just be a lifestyle experience with a list of animals to tick off of a list. There is beauty even in the small details and patience pays off in the end. It’s about embracing those small moments: Going out early in the morning, off the beaten track to where there are fewer vehicles, slowing down and spending some time watching bee-eaters catch their meal on their wings or a troop of baboons interacting with themselves instead of rushing to the next pride of sleeping lions 10 kilometres away from you.

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Players of the bush

A safari should be about the feelings it provokes, the experience of being out there in the wild, experiencing nature just as it is, with no rush and always with a respectful mind to the animal kingdom, whether it’s a dung beetle crossing the road or a leopard on a kill.

As a professional guide in Zambia, I must count myself privileged to take people out in nature. I specialize in photographic safaris, mostly done privately or in a small like-minded group. In fact, the smaller the group size the better for photography, however saying that I have had some groups that had a lot of fun together with very rewarding results.

Track and Trail River Camp

Track and Trail River Camp in South Luangwa, just five minutes from the main gate. We are more focused on photography than most camps in the Luangwa Valley. We have our own purpose-built photographic hide at a waterhole where guests can stay whenever they want. This waterhole is visited on a regular basis by lots of species including Elephants – Giraffes – Hippos – various Antelope and in the evening predators as well.

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