Our Blog

Your guide makes all the difference.

July 11, 2011

Last week I talked about a life changing conversation I had with one of our guides while on safari and this week I’d like to talk more about safari guides.  I truly believe that your guide can make or break your entire safari experience. Guides act as more than just wildlife guides, they are also your ambassador, translator, teacher, entertainer and host.

A good one can make a day without wildlife one of the best days of your safari.  My teenage son would still tell you that his best day on safari didn’t include any wildlife at all … well they may have spotted a few birds.  His favourite day of a two week safari, that included seeing the big five, flying in a biplane, horseback riding with giraffe and many other exciting experiences,  was they day he spent learning the art of the bow & arrow with Letilet, a guide at Ol Seki Mara Camp.  Letilet made Daniel his own bow, gave him some of his personal arrows and after a few practices aiming at targets in camp, they headed out to the bush together.  Daniel learned all about making poison arrows, how to track the wildlife and best of all got some time away from his parents!

A good guide will teach you about their culture and may even take you home to meet their family.  A great guide will make sure you don’t offend the elders during a blessing ceremony at least that is what Hussein at Ol Malo did for my husband.  Ian and I had a Samburu blessing ceremony at Ol Malo to celebrate our marriage and this included all sorts of intricate and complicated rituals that have extreme significance in the Samburu culture.  Literally, one wrong step and Ian could have upset the elders who had so graciously allowed us to partake in this ceremony in the first place.  Hussein was with Ian every step of the way and made sure that he did everything correctly, even helping him find a pregnant ewe to give to my Samburu mother – the traditional gift for one’s new mother-in-law.

Finally, a good guide will make sure that the most experienced safari goer learns something new and that is the case with Salaash at Acacia House.  I am lucky enough to go on safari to East Africa 2 or 3 times each year and have probably gone on over 25 safaris to date so I would call myself a bit of a veteran and know a fair amount about the wildlife, plant life and bird life.  But when I was over in Kenya in April, Salaash took me out on a game drive one afternoon and he managed to teach me 3 new things in less than one hour!  Who knew that the bottom front teeth of an impala are shaped like a comb which they use to groom themselves or that after a young Masai boy is initiated he wears a special headdress that he has made with the feathers of up to 40 different species of birds or that elephants are the only animal that can’t jump.  I sure didn’t but I do now thanks to Salaash.

So when you are next on safari at any of our properties, make sure to ask lots of questions of your guide and pay attention to what he or she says – they have lots to share and I know you will learn  or experience something very special.