We are often asked what the advantages are of having a Private Guide on a safari. We consider the biggest advantage, is being able to choose the guide and his particular skill set that are important to you, and knowing that you will have access to those skills for your whole journey.
A guide can make or break your trip, and once you have had a great guide everyone else won’t measure up. Picture this if you will, travelling around in the game drive vehicle for hours and the animals have been sparse, a few impala and zebra and not much else. An average guide would drive around desperately searching for the animals that don’t want to be found. A great guide would look out for tracks on the road, explaining what they were, which direction they were heading and a bit about the animal. He would look for the ant lion hiding in the sand, or the termite mound towering above the bushes, or the plant which can be used as a toothbrush. There is always so much more to the bush than just the four legged creatures.
Anyone who has read a book or looked on the internet can tell you the facts about how much an elephants eats in a day or their Latin names. But an experienced guide can give insight into his experiences of the animal’s habits and behavior, being able to read the bush and translate it for you. Also respecting the animals personal space is a very important aspect and comes with experience.
A private guide who travels with you through your whole journey also provides continuity to your safari, without having each guide that you have at each camp you visit, telling you the same information. A private guide that has traveled with you from the beginning, will know that he has already imparted that gem of information and will have another fact or figure to impress you with, creating a complete and seamless story for you to take home. They also provide you with reassurance, he is there with from the time you step off the plane until you step back on to it again, and can avoid or deal with any issues that arise. Your guide will likely have a relationship with the camps and lodges you visit and can work with them to provide you with better service delivery. It also allows you flexibility, enabling you to stay out on a drive all day if that is what you would like.
An experienced Private Guide should have diverse specialist skills like photography, reading the bush on a guided walk, astronomy or birding, and provide you with that value added dimension. He will ensure that your interests are a priority to him and he will strive to exceed your expectations. You will know that your priority for your safari is photography for example, and you choose your guide on this basis. He will then know the best angle to stop the vehicle to get the best use of light or give you tips on what has worked for him in the past.
Ultimately a great guide is a story teller, a lover and appreciator of nature, who wants to share his passion and appreciation with you, so that you can feel it too.