Thursday, May 6, 2010

Khaki Fever

I really admire African game rangers. Having said that I should reassure my wife that I have not come down with Khaki fever – an unfortunate affliction which makes game lodge guests (mostly female, but not exclusively) fall headlong in love with their guide. It doesn’t matter that the object of their affection resembles the favourite in a Quasimodo look-alike contest or that he has the personality of a clam. As long as he’s wearing khaki, can recite the gestation period of a warthog, ( 160-170 days for those of you who are interested) and can instantly recognise the dung of a giraffe. (It’s surprisingly small by the way.) Jealous? Me? No, I’m always this attractive shade of green.

In truth these guides are an admirable breed, well trained, professional and totally dedicated to educating their guests about the wildlife and its habitat. They certainly don’t do the job for the money. Actually they have to put up with quite a lot. For example at many lodges if their guests want to stay up drinking at the bar until 4.30am the ranger has to stay with them to escort them back to their accommodation and ensure that some unfortunate leopard doesn’t die of alcohol poisoning when it eats one of them. Then there are the stupid questions. “Which animals get mad when you take their photo?” was one that I heard. And “Do those tiny rhinos (she meant warthogs) breed with the really big ones?”

I recently stayed at a lodge in the Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa. Here there was a direct telephone link between the guest rooms and their guide’s quarters. My guide Andre was telling me that he’d once escorted a guest back to his room after one of the afore mentioned drinking sessions and had just climbed into his own bed when he received a call from his inebriated guest. “I’ve just pulled my curtains back to look out and there’s a leopard staring at me.” The caller said.
“Is it outside?” Asked Andre thinking that it was a figment of the guests alcohol addled imagination.
“I think so.” Said the caller.
“Well, look again and if you’re sure it’s outside draw the curtains and go to bed.” The next morning, out of interest Andre checked around the guest’s room and sure enough found several large, fresh pug marks in the sandy soil.

All I’m saying is be nice to your guide or ranger, they really do know their stuff and if you listen to them they’ll turn a good safari into a fantastic, life changing experience. Oh, and tip them well.

Kariega Game Reserve is an internationally renowned “Big-5” private game reserve situated in the Eastern Cape, near Port Elizabeth – a natural extension to Cape Town and the Garden Route.

The 9000 hectare reserve is malaria-free with an expansive variety of game and birdlife and dramatic views, vistas and landscape.
Kariega is family owned and operated and offers guests a truly memorable African experience, unforgettable game viewing and a uniquely intimate experience with the wilderness that revives the heart and inspires the soul.

For more information call 0449 689 447 or email

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